University of Southampton

Managing your online presence

A student blog post: part of their digital footprint

A student 's digital footprint

Our online activity leaves a footprint - a digital one. Images and messages we share on social networking sites, personal blogs and websites etc are part of this. Collectively, these actions represent extensions of ourselves and become part of our 'digital identity'. What are the implications of this? Is there a need to manage your online presence? Does it matter or could there be unforeseen consequences if you don't?

In these activities you will explore the pros and cons of having a digital identity, investigate your own digital footprint and reflect on whether you need to manage your online presence or not.

Activity 1: Who's looking at you?

Who might be looking for signs of your digital footprint? Even if you're not a celebrity with thousands of followers on Twitter, your online presence may not have gone unnoticed. In this activity you are going to reflect on the aspects of your life where your online presence might have an impact.



Think about how your online activity might affect other areas of your life. Select the tick symbol if you think your online activity could negatively affect any item below and the cross symbol if you think it could not. Then read the feedback.

 How friends might perceive you.
 How family members might perceive you.
 How your lecturers/tutors might perceive you.
 How other students at your place of study might perceive you.
 How a future employer might perceive you.
 Your personal safety.
 Your academic reputation.
 Your personal reputation.

Activity 2: How do others manage their online presence?



Listen to these students talking about what they do and what don't they do online. As you listen, decide whether you agree or disagree with their statements and move them into the appropriate box. Then read the feedback.

Be polite online
Be really careful about what you do
Create an alias to be on the safe side
Don't put up anything you wouldn't want your parents to see
Employers might check your background online
You can't monitor what goes up of yours
You need to separate personal and professional profiles

Activity 3: Searching for your own digital footprint

If you enter a friend's name in Google search engine, it's very likely to generate links to a number of sites in which they are mentioned. There are even web services that locate and collect, for a fee, all the information, good or bad, about a particular person on the internet. In this activity you are going to search for signs of your own digital footprint on the internet and consider the possible impact.



Open an internet search engine such as Google or open one of the 'people search' tools in the help section. conduct a search using your own name and explore any results which produce content about you. Next, answer the questions below, making notes in the text area provided. Then read the feedback.

• Is there anything that you would not wish your lecturer(s) or a future employer to find?
• If so, can you make it private or delete if it is no longer active?
• Is there anything that it would be beneficial for a future employer to see?
• If so, can you add to it? Is there scope for developing your online profile more professionally in readiness for entering the job market?

Activity 4: How to make your digital identity work for you not against you

Of course, not all online activity can lead to problems. Some can be beneficial. In this activity you are going to differentiate between online activities with positive or negative outcomes.



Look at these examples of online activities and think about the kinds of consequences each might have. Select 'positive' or 'negative' according to how the action could make you appear to others. Then read the feedback.

 Posting a picture on a social networking site of yourself (or a friend) drunk or behaving badly.
 Posting a personal and critical comment in reply to another member of a group forum.
 Publishing an e-portfolio of some of your best coursework on the internet.
 Using a Twitter account to post to discussions and follow others in the same discipline.
 Uploading an album of photos from a wild party to Flickr without changing the privacy settings.
 Making a joke about a controversial topic in an open forum or on Twitter.
 Recording a video of yourself presenting on a research topic and uploading it to YouTube.

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