Digital identity & wellbeing

This topic will assist in your understanding of the ways to be safe and responsible online and how to improve your wellbeing when using technology.

Learning outcomes

This topic will assist in your understanding of:

  • the potential positive and negative effects of your digital activities
  • ways to be safe and responsible online
  • how online technology can affect your wellbeing
  • the support and services available to improve your wellbeing

Digital identity

If someone were to do a Google search on you, what would they find?

The results are part of what is called your digital identity or digital footprint.

Your digital footprint is anything and everything that can be tied to you from the digital environment. Pictures, emails and social media profiles are all things you knowingly contribute. You may not know that your Google searches, online shopping, that news item you clicked on last week, that ad that caught your eye and now won’t leave you alone… all contribute to your online presence or ‘footprint’ as well.

What does your digital footprint say about you?


  1. Google yourself by name:
  • Can you find yourself?
  • Are there a lot of other people with your name?
  • Is there any content that you definitely don’t want to be linked to you? Such as old social media profiles or accounts for services you no longer use. If so, spend a few minutes deactivating or tidying up your digital footprint.
  1. Try a Reverse Google Image Search:
  • Using Chrome as your browser – pick an image of a person (you can use yourself if you like), right click on it, select “Search Google for image”.
  • How many other times has the photo been used?

Although there are many positives to sharing on social media, Nicola Osborne points out why you should demonstrate caution when posting on social media and the internet.

It’s important to think about how your posts will portray you in the future. What will your digital footprint look like to you in ten years’ time? Think about what the internet might know about you. Are you easy to find? If you were to apply for a new job, what would your potential employers find out about you? Your digital footprint is your digital reputation.

Here are four reasons to care about your digital footprint:

Your digital footprint isn’t something set in stone, but it is something to be mindful of. You can edit it, reduce it, and limit it, but will never be able to get rid of it entirely. Indeed, a recently coined concept “social cooling” proposes that as we become aware of the threats our digital footprints may pose to us, we are changing our digital behaviours – not necessarily a positive effect on individuals or society as a whole.


If you would like to learn more about digital footprints, you can register and participate in the short 3-week Digital Footprint MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) run by Louise Connelly and Nicola Osborne.

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