The term “digital footprint” refers to the traces you leave online–your social media posts, things other people post about you, and more. If you’re curious about your digital footprint, you can Google your name. If you have a common name, try Googling your name plus something about you (e.g., “Joe Smith” +Maryland).
While being aware of your digital footprint is important for everyone, teens need to start thinking about the things they post online and how they could be problematic in the future. Colleges and employers do online searches for prospective students and employees and no one wants to miss out on an important opportunity because of a social media post.
Even while in high school, teens should start thinking about their online image and what type of impression they want to create. This could mean starting a public-facing website or social media account to share hobbies. It could also mean locking down social media accounts so they don’t show up in search results or can be viewed by anyone on the site. This kind of impression management is just as important online as it is offline.