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Tracking Your Digital Footprint Activity (Teens and Adults)

Get teens and adults to start thinking about the digital footprint they leave behind whenever they’re online. This is a great classroom activity to get conversations started about digital literacy. This activity is best suited for teens and adults who have multiple online accounts.

  1. How many online accounts do you have? This includes any websites that require you to log in, such as your email account, social media, online shopping, etc.

  2. Let’s think about online shopping accounts - Amazon is a popular one. If the students don’t have an Amazon account, ask them to pretend they’re using their parents’ account. List as many types of personal information Amazon might have from your account. Here are some helpful starting points: - Full name - Email address - Shipping address - Credit card details

  3. Now let’s take Google as another example. Google won’t have the same kinds of personal information like Amazon does, but it does keep a different list of information about you. Websites like Google will use something called “cookies”, which is used to remember your search history and store some basic data. Companies will then use this information to suggest relevant advertisements to you that they think you’ll like, based on your searches. Think about the last five things you’ve searched (that’s not school related), and write them down. Under each search term, list the types of products and companies that would want to advertise to you.

    1. Example: the last thing I searched for is “golden retriever dogs”. These are the types of products and companies that might want to sell something to me: - Pet stores - Dog food - Dog toys - Dog grooming services - Dog walking services

  4. Let’s look at a popular social media site - Instagram. Social media has another set of information on you - behaviour analytics data. This means these platforms are analysing your behaviours and how you interact with their app. Let’s break down the types of data you’re leaving behind for Instagram to find.

    1. Can you think of the basic personal information Instagram might have on you? - Full name - Email address - Facebook profile (linked) - Date of birth - Phone number

    2. Can you think of what types of behavioural information Instagram is keeping track of? - Your followers and following lists - Which posts you like - Which hashtags you search the most - What time of day you log in to - How long you spend on the app - Which day and time you like to post stories - How many people interact with your posts and stories - Etc

    3. Besides advertising, social media apps will use your behaviour, along with the other millions of users, to design a better app that will keep you scrolling for longer periods of time.

  5. Pick another social media app and repeat #4. Discuss as a class or group how everyone feels about their digital footprint.

  6. Cyber safety tidbit: since you have created an inventory of all your online accounts in #1, count how many of those accounts you’ve used the same username and password. Imagine if someone got hold of one of those passwords - would they be able to get into all your online accounts? This is a good reminder to never use the same passwords twice!

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