It’s a pretty daunting question to answer although, most likely, one or two words have already popped into your head. Do you want to be remembered as caring, loyal or strong-minded? For your talents and achievements?

Or are you worried that there might be someone or something that stands witness to a part of you that you’d rather forget?

We’ve asked this question to over 80,000 students in our school-based (cyber) bullying workshops and know that no one wants to be remembered for their regretful moments.

However, if we want to be remembered as caring, then we actually have to be caring both on and offline.

Digital citizenship is when your online reputation matches the person you are proud of offline and is the key to creating a safe digital world.

When it comes to the digital world, we believe that young people are the experts. No one knows more about the fast-evolving world of apps, games and platforms than a teenager.

That’s why we were excited to learn about Telstra’s recent cyber safety report, which surveyed a thousand 18-to-25 year-olds about their experiences growing up in the digital world. Some interesting finding for me are that:PROJECT ROCKIT

  • 82 per cent of people surveyed didn’t realise the long-term impact their posts could have, with more than two-thirds saying they were concerned about their online reputation
  • 52 per cent said they regretted content they had posted with 48 percent admitting that almost half of what they posted was done so out of boredom!

Whether the regretful content was hurtful or offensive, a prank gone wrong or an ‘over-share’, it’s not surprising to learn that the number one piece of advice these 18-25 year-olds would give their teenage self is to ‘think before you post’.

There’s no doubt that our online activity leaves a digital trace or ‘footprint’. In fact, young people are frequently reminded of how their digital footprint can prevent them from getting into university, landing that audition or attaining that dream job. Whether it’s a recently tagged photo or an offensive post, it doesn’t take longer than a glance for opportunities to fizzle.

However, what young people don’t hear enough of is that your digital footprint can create possibilities for you. Just as our online reputation has the potential to damage our future, it also has the potential to create opportunities. This is digital citizenship at it’s best.

In our experience, young people are reluctant to reach out to their parents when experiencing troubles online because they are concerned that the technology will be removed and the interference may make the situation worse.

However, the Telstra report revealed that 85 per cent of young people surveyed said that parents should take a role in educating young people about staying safe online with 45 per cent reporting they had wished their parents had warned them to ‘think before they post’.

Top Tips for Parents in Creating Strong Digital Citizens

  1. Be prepared: Have tough conversations ahead of time. Discuss what sites are ok to explore and what sites aren’t. Establishing trust and a non-judgmental attitude will increase chances of your child approaching you for support.
  2. Protect personal information: If you’re not sure how to enable privacy settings, ask your child to teach you or work it out together. After all, they are the experts!
  3. Promote a ‘think before you click’ attitude or the filter question: ‘Would I be happy for Grandma to see this?’ If the answer is no, then it doesn’t belong online.
  4. Promote positive bystander behaviour: Work together with your child ahead of time to come up with safe ways to stand up to online abuse if they see it happen.
  5. Practice what you preach: Be a role model with your own digital habits.

Creating a positive digital world is not just up to young people and their parents. Telstra is also taking responsibility for the role it plays in providing education around cyber safety and security and has shown, through this research, that it is aware of the impact technology has on young people and families.

So, welcome to the digital age. How do you want to be remembered?