What do students understand about digital footprint management? Examining social media education for career guidance

Year: 2016

Author: Buchanan, Rachel, Scevak, Jill, Smith, Shamus, Southgate, Erica

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Social media usage is now understood as playing a role in career access and success, and the development of a positive online presence or digital footprint is an important part of this. However, there is a paucity of knowledge in Australia on how children, adolescents and young people comprehend digital footprints despite social media being amongst the most popular internet applications. This paper reports on the findings of a Delphi survey and series of projects researching how primary students, secondary students and tertiary students in regional location in NSW understood their digital footprints. Using focus groups, students’ understanding of digital footprint and the role of social media in their lives was explored. Drawing on boyd’s notion of ‘networked publics’ we compare and contrast students’ reported behavior and understanding with the responses of 53 digital experts, elicited through a Delphi survey. In analysing the results from each age group we describe the sequential development of students’ understanding of their digital footprints. This sequence is used as the basis for understanding how students can be taught about social media management and the curation of a positive digital footprint in the context of a life time approach to career guidance.