Recently, I was teaching a digital citizenship lesson about digital footprints in an elementary classroom and I Googled myself to show the students my digital footprint (or tattoo) I tend to Google myself quite frequently, so their were no surprises. The students were intrigued by all of the information and pictures that made up my digital footprint. A very powerful learning experience, especially when I had them start Googling themselves.
After the lesson was over, the teacher of the class I was teaching approached me and told me that she had actually never Googled herself before and so she did so while I was teaching my lesson. I was surprised that she had never Googled herself and she was surprised at what she found in her digital footprint. The teacher proceeded to tell me that she wasn't happy with some of the information that was showing up in the results. I sat down with her and looked over her results and there wasn't anything inappropriate at all, just general information about her and some images that she had shared via social media.
Yes, I could sit and wonder why this teacher (or more people), don't Google themselves more often. The days when first impressions started with a handshake are over. You are being Googled, those search results are creating first impressions about you, and you owe it to yourself to know what is being posted about you on the Internet. I would recommend setting up the following to monitor your digital footprint.
Google AlertsI have been stressing to our students in grades 6-12 this year that they need to start monitoring their digital footprints. Last year I encouraged our students to utilize Google Alerts. Google Alerts will send you an email update of relevant Google results based on your queries. Here is what it looks like:
I simply add my name to the search query box. I choose to receive an email from Google once a month with any new results about my name. It's really fairly simple to set up, and very basic monitoring tool.
After a tip from Josh Allen, I recently started using an app named Mention. I know a lot of our students don't utilize their email like I do, so I wanted something that they could have on their iPads that would send out push notifications. Mention is just what I was looking for. With Mention, you can monitor keywords both on the Web and Social Media. I created one for my first and last name. Very simple, and easy to use, and the best part is that I get a notification every time that keyword is used. I am using it in a very basic sense, but there are a lot of options with this app that I haven't even gotten into.