In today’s society, teenagers and young adults post anything and everything about themselves online with little regard to the consequences of their actions. Facebook and YouTube are currently some of the most popular social networking sites where young adults freely express their opinions and maybe more information about themselves and their relationships than most of us want to know.

Navigating the slippery slopes of social media can be treacherous and have long reaching ramifications if used inappropriately. Our digital footprints are important and we need to teach our students how to protect their online image. Parents are not teaching their children ethical online behavior, because they themselves may not be technologically savvy enough to understand it themselves. Teachers are also just starting to see the importance of teaching digital citizenship and ethical issues in the classrooms. But our students are often far more adept at using these social networking sites than their teachers, and therefore don’t really listen to their advice.

For individuals who thoughtlessly post their opinions, find out the hard way that once a person has posted something online, he may or may not be able to take it back. Even if that person removes the post, or YouTube video a few hours from posting it. The reason is because once it is published, others who see it can copy it and post it themselves again. It is then out of the original author’s control and if it is sensational enough, it can go viral. Just ask former UCLA student, Alexandra Wallace. Her YouTube commentary about how Asians shouldn’t be talking on their cell phones in the library after hearing about the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis, caused enough backlash that it gained national attention from the media.

via UCLA Alexandra Wallace on KTLA news RE: Asians in the library rants on asian video – YouTube.

As a political science student, Alexandra Wallace learned the hard way, how voicing her first amendment rights, could jeopardized her status as a student at the university and effect her ability to seek employment in the future. What is your digital footprint? How can you have a positive digital presence? Stop.Think.Reflect–before you post!