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Understand what it is and protect it!
Some additional tips provided by the Digital Family Summit:

Just like in real life, every step we take online provides insight into our person.  And don’t be fooled, even though you can’t see it, people are watching.  That’s why it’s so important to protect that digital footprint, to somewhat wrap your reputation in virtual bubble-wrap.  There are a few steps you can take to make sure that you are giving off the right impression of yourself.

Social Smarts: Be mindful about what you are posting on your social network channels.  Too much information isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially because you don’t know who it’s reaching.

Longevity: Remember, what goes online stays online.  Forever.  Just because you decided that, once you posted it, you don’t want it live anymore…it’s still out there.  It’s embedded in the social network DNA.  Hitting delete doesn’t ever change that.  So think first.

Privacy IS the BEST Policy: Only allow those people who you know IN REAL LIFE to have access to your personal information.  And even then, be wary because the more people know about you, especially in the written word, the more ammunition they have to use against you.  The best practice for protection management is to keep private things private.

Stay Clean: Posting provocative or inappropriate pictures or posts online is only asking for trouble.  On so many different levels.

Press Ignore: People you don’t know who are making inappropriate requests?  Block them and move on.  There are lots of trolls on the internet, it’s best not to feed them.

In the end, protecting your digital footprint is a lot of common sense and real life experience.  Just like we are told to think before we act, the same goes with internet behavior.  Your reputation, be it online or in real life and, in this day and age, they are one and the same, is all you have.  You want others to think you are as terrific as you really are, not based on some bad moves you’ve made on the internet.  Think first, protect your digital footprint.  Those impressions last forever.

Schwab, Stephanie. "SAFETY: Protecting Your Digital Footprint." Digital Family Summit Teen Tween Digital Influencers Their Families. Stephanie Schwab, 2013. Web. 22 Jan. 2014. <>.