Digital Identity: Who Are You On The Web?

SPECIAL FILE - "Do you have an identity document? Is a question that takes on unexpected importance when it comes to the digital world. Indeed, beyond the fact of having or not an email address or a Facebook account, all the traces that we leave contribute to forging our digital identity.

Published on :


Automated English translation - (sometimes hilarious) mistakes can creep in! ;)

Add to favorites (0)

"Do you have ID? Is a question that takes on unexpected importance when it comes to the digital world. Indeed, beyond the fact of having or not an email address or a Facebook account, all the traces that we leave contribute to forging our digital identity.

Defining digital identity is still inherently difficult. We all know a little about what it is, but we do not always understand the extent of its scope.

In the school environment, it seems particularly important to raise the issue with the students. “As we surf the web, we leave behind a trail of digital data that others can copy, link, analyze, hijack or even sell, often without our knowledge and without our consent. Our students are rarely aware that the information they disseminate could one day harm them. How to help them build a good digital identity? Such was besides the initial context an educator chat session that took place earlier this year on Twitter.

In order to go around the question, we present to you a joint dossier of École branchée and Education hub which will deal with different aspects of digital identity.

To read on this page:

- What is digital identity?
A general portrait of the concept, as well as an overview of yours.

- Why should you be concerned about your digital identity?
The different aspects and the possible consequences.

- How to approach the notion of digital identity with the pupils?
A repository of ideas and resources.

- What are the resources for talking about digital identity with students?
A directory of various resources (documents, educational scenarios, video clips, games, etc.) to discuss digital identity with young people and other stakeholders.

What is digital identity?

@ticdesprofs said on Twitter: Digital identity does not belong to us. It is made up of our data, the traces that we leave. It does not clean itself, but shapes itself.

Our every move on the Internet is likely to leave traces that forge, whether we like it or not, our digital identity. Much like trying to heal your reputation in real life, it is important to know and understand the concept of digital identity and what it involves. Moreover, attached to digital identity, we find the concept of reputation.

First, how do you get a digital identity, how do you get born in the digital world? It's not just about running a daily blog, or being a tech expert! The mere fact of having an email address, a Facebook, Twitter or other so-called “social” media account, the fact of commenting on something on the Web, or even being talked about there, confers a digital identity.

Fred Cavazza, social media consultant, explains on his blog : “(…) User-generated content is playing an increasingly important role in our daily Internet consumption. All this content leaves traces on the sites that host them and in the indexes of search engines, they are also systematically linked to an author. "

But in concrete terms, what does someone's digital identity consist of? First there is the factual data, like his name, age, email address, personal website address or Facebook account address, etc. Then there are all the interventions (comments, “likes” on Facebook, “retweets” on Twitter, photos uploaded, opinions expressed, etc.) which are rather informal, but which serve to characterize an individual.

Even further, the list of Facebook friends or people followed on Twitter also help characterize a person. For example, if you follow 23 yoga teachers on Twitter, we can assume that you like this activity.

Test your digital identity!

Want to know the kind of information that can easily be found on you in public? Here are some ideas:

- Google!
Type your name in Google ( and admire the results! Obviously, if you have a relatively common name, it will be more difficult to find you exactly, but as soon as your name is a little out of the ordinary, it becomes particularly easy ... Add a few terms that describe yourself to improve the accuracy of the results ( as “teacher”, name of your school, city, etc.).

- Type your name on the site:
For more precision, type an identifier that you use often, for example the portion before the @ of your email address. This site will also help you identify other sites you use that distribute information about you. You can then go and change the privacy settings or delete your accounts.

Why should you be concerned about your digital identity?

@alduc said on Twitter: Anonymity on the Internet is often an illusion. It is very easy to find the author of a derogatory comment! Digital identity has become an important part of someone's relationship with society.

It is important to understand that digital identity has many facets:

1. The one you create yourself

It is the easiest to mold. A tip: ask yourself if it would be comfortable to see a publication broadcast on the newscast! If the answer is yes, then it is likely that this trace is positive or has no effect on its digital reputation. If the answer is no, you must then hear the alarm signal and turn your keypad 7 times before pressing "Send"!

2. The one that others create for us

@alduc said on Twitter: You have to learn not only to manage your digital identity, but also to pay attention to that of others!

Like it or not, in real life and in digital, people's opinion of us can work in our favor or against us. Imagine the gossip around a table, then imagine it being broadcast publicly on the Internet. The scope is not the same at all. Fortunately, this also applies to the right words.

3. The one whose nature changes time

A student is the "star" of his class because he achieved a feat of questionable taste at the last party. Of course, everything is documented on a Facebook page, with supporting photos. Imagine the same “star” in 5 years, interviewed for the job of her dreams.

More and more employers are doing a little research on future job candidates before making their choice. It is therefore important to ensure that the results of this research will please them! If the recruiter came across this part of the story of this student, it is not impossible that his choice fell on this other candidate who seems more tidy… It is a caricature example, but which can become real.

Or, imagine that you are running as a candidate for a party in an election and you find in your past publications opinions diametrically opposed to your "new" beliefs. Then it will be much more difficult for you to convince people of your good faith.

The first step in preserving or improving your digital identity is certainly the awareness of what the concept involves. However, keep in mind that it is almost impossible to fully control all facets.

Often when we talk about digital identity, it's its dark side. Indeed, it is relatively easy, out of spite or out of desire for revenge, to destroy someone's reputation thanks to the Internet. If you want to know more about this aspect, read the article " The dark side of online reputation ". There are several examples of small gestures with unfortunate consequences.

It is said that words fly away, but that writings remain… With digital technology, not only do they remain, but they are sometimes easily accessible to the whole world and archived in complex computer systems, irrecoverable. It is therefore better to fully assume everything that concerns us!

A staging of oneself

That said, digital identity also has a very interesting side that is worth developing, especially through the digital portfolio. As the item show Use your digital portfolio: build your professional digital identity to enhance your skills, the digital portfolio can eventually become an important factor of employability. To this end, the conclusion suggests working on the development of three skills in students:
- the ability to look back on their experiences, their journey and the ability to give them meaning;
- self-recognition, the demonstration of one's skills, and the summary of one's “skills map”;
- professional self-socialization, or self-development of lasting socio-professional links despite professional changes.

The report also highlights three characteristics of the professional digital portfolio, which are easily reflected in the personal world:
- ubiquity, or the possibility of being present at any point of the globe at the same time and at the same time;
- the extimity, or the exteriorization of some of its characteristics (for example, its interests, its particular skills, its field of expertise, etc.) in the service of others;
- identity, both place and product of the recognition by oneself and by others of the person that one has been, that one is and that one is becoming.

The author considers, in the light of his research, “the publication of a digital portfolio as a self-staging ". Isn't that a nice analogy with personal digital identity?

Where and how to publish your personal portfolio? Several supports are available depending on how you envision it. A personal blog, where one lists his successes, his thoughts and his publications, is a good portfolio if it is fed regularly. At the strictly professional level, a site like LinkedIn allows you to create and update your CV online, in addition to posting news. From their first employment experiences, a young person could create a profile for himself.

How to approach the concept of digital identity with the pupils?

@ticdesprofs said on Twitter: It is better to teach young people to swim than to put up a wall in front of the ocean.

What teacher who uses the Internet in the classroom has not already experienced the classic situation of “daring” advertising that suddenly appears in the middle of a page? Should we ban the Internet from school for all that? On the contrary, it is a question of taking the opportunity to… talk about it. It's the same with social media and digital identity.

As explained previously in the dossier, the notion of digital identity is closely linked to the traces that we leave in the digital universe. These traces are mainly associated with the use of "Web 2.0", ie participatory tools, social media. Moreover, according to the survey Net trends 2012 of CEFRIO on social media, more than 8 out of 10 Quebecers use them, and they are more than 9 out of 10 when only 18-24 year olds are taken. We can therefore deduce that the youngest are also particularly fond of it.

But what strategies can be used to talk about it in class? Here are a few.

Teacher François Jourdain (@francoisnco) has a very special way of reminding his students at all times to pay attention to their digital identity: he has written a sentence above each computer in his class: I am what I write.

Several education specialists, including Jacques Cool (@zecool) and Benoît Petit (@petitbenoit), believe that it is important to include students in the development of a charter for the use of social media at the school. 'school. To this end, the site Search to find suggests ways to establish a “netiquette” for the healthy and responsible use of forums and chat, forms of social media.

Also, Benoît Petit recalls that it is important to emphasize the positive aspects of social networks to have credibility with young people. “We could also start from experiences of students where their digital identity has been or could have been compromised. "

Karine Thonnard, from RÉCIT of private education, so reminds the reach of social media and virtual reputation.

"Hidden behind a screen,
- it is easier to speak with an avatar or a nickname as a shield;
- it is easier to lie about our true identity;
- the embarrassment flies away and the tongues are loosened;

Intimacy is wrong, but people and emotions are real. "

This is a great way to start the discussion on virtual identity with the students, but also on cyberbullying.

It is important for young people to know that cyberbullying is considered a criminal act under the Criminal Code of Canada. Here, according to the website of the Montreal Police Department, the cases where this applies:

Defamatory libel
Example: Using Internet technologies such as websites to ridicule other people by telling stories, jokes or posting pictures.

Example: Send threatening emails to classmates asking them to bring valuables to school.

Criminal harassment
Example: Using Internet technologies to repeatedly communicate with someone knowing they are feeling harassed.

Fake message
Example: Transmitting, using an electronic messaging system, false information with the intention of harming someone.

Utter threats
Example: Using a messaging system to send threatening emails to other people.

What are the resources for talking about digital identity with students?

The Web is full of various resources, ranging from video clips to complete learning situations, including interactive games. We have listed and commented on some of these resources here. We are aware that there are certainly many more. Please feel free to suggest others to add.

Applications, games

2025 exmachina
This serious game revolves around Internet education and the preservation of one's digital identity. The starting scene is as follows: four characters, Fred, Anais, Hugo and Morgane, see their lives turned upside down by information published on the Internet while they were still studying. You are NetDetective, they call you for help… With Fred, we clarify a case related to social networks. With Hugo, online video games are the cause. Anaïs was captured on the spot by mobile devices. Finally, Morgane is trapped by her writings on the Internet.

Internet passport
For students of the 4e year of primary to 2e secondary Internet passport is a web mastery tutorial to help develop critical thinking about online experiences in order to use the full potential of websites and tools offered on the Internet in a safe and ethical manner. Produced by MediaSmarts, it is accessible on school subscription.

Vinz and Lou: Connected Generation
This simulation game was created for 7 to 12 year olds on the occasion of the Safer Internet Day, in 2012. Vinz must find out why he had his father cut off his Internet access by becoming aware of its use.

Learning situations

My avatar
This learning situation aims to make students aware of their digital identity and the rights and responsibilities attached to it. The activities lead them to identify norms, values and behaviors that promote better living together and that allow them to build a positive digital identity. The student creates his avatar and analyzes the rules of online games and social media. Produced by the RÉCIT du Développement de la personne, this learning situation is intended for classes at the end of primary school.

My digital identity
This learning situation leads students to realize that their freedom of expression involves constraints and obligations. Activities allow them to identify the impacts of their online publications on themselves and others and to explore the rules, codes and standards that surround the use of social media. The objective is to make them construct a representation of the digital identity that they wish to develop by creating their own charter of conduct on the Internet. Produced by the RÉCIT du Développement de la personne, this learning situation is intended for high school classes.

Introduction to Cyberbullying: Avatars and Identity
Pseudonyms, avatars, illusion of anonymity… Because of this, it is sometimes difficult for children not to lose sight of the fact that the conversations they have online are indeed addressed to real people - with real emotions. This lesson provides an opportunity for students to explore this concept, and discuss the importance of empathy and common sense when interacting online. Produced by HabiloMédias, the learning situation is aimed at classes from 3e elementary cycle and also addresses the subject of cyberbullying.

Video clips

Series: Vinz and Lou on the Internet
Vinz and Lou are young characters whose adventures and misadventures in cartoon form illustrate the situations young people face on the Internet. This series makes it possible to approach in a clear, constructive and humorous way the big questions related to the Internet, such as: what is private, what is public; The Internet always tells the truth; and I, can I say everything on the Internet; who is behind the nicknames; what can be published online; and more. The objective of each little cartoon is to raise awareness of the issues linked to the different uses of the Internet.

Numeric identity
This capsule was produced as part of a student project. It is a staging in which a young girl accepts a new "friend" on Facebook, even if she does not know him. Skillful with the tool, he shows her in a few lines everything he could learn about her by consulting her profile and her photos. He recommends that she be careful. “You leave traces on the web. Be careful what you write, because you are not alone ”, we can read in conclusion. An interesting starting point for a discussion in high school.

This animated short is a metaphor for digital identity theft. We see a character living on a planet who agrees to meet a stranger who says he wants to become his friend. After gaining her trust, he steals everything she has from her and we see her waking up one morning without a face.

Remember ... once posted, it's permanent!
Another short metaphor to start a discussion about digital identity: we see a young girl posting a photo of herself on her school bulletin board. A student walks past the bulletin board and picks up the photo to take it with him. Immediately afterwards, a new copy of the photo reappears on the bulletin board, and another student takes it, etc. In the end, the young girl at the beginning wants to remove her photo from the bulletin board, but she cannot because she is constantly duplicating herself. The final message: "Think before you click"

Share the party (in French)
“There are evenings when you'd better not share everything. "Series of short capsules from the National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) in which we see different situations that can arise during" parties "of adolescents. At the end of each capsule, we ask if this moment should be shared (on social media) or not. There are 11 possible endings, depending on the choices you made, with different consequences. Be careful, there are delicate elements there, but which can happen for real: someone who dances badly to the taste of the filmmaker, a girl who kisses a boy who is not her boyfriend, a teacher who talks to a student , but who seems to be receiving sexual favors because of the camera angle, etc.


Teens, Web 2.0 and Social Media
Support on Prezi for a conference given by Dominic Gagné, RÉCIT facilitator at the Val-des-Cerfs CS, for parents, teachers and professionals.

Social media: teachers in the spotlight
Historically, students have played bad tricks on their teachers, or formulated criticisms, founded or not, against them. As long as it stayed within the walls of the school, it didn't matter too much. But today, with social media, young people have powerful dissemination tools that the previous generation did not have access to, and a simple Facebook page can seriously damage a teacher's reputation. How do teachers experience this sometimes violent intrusion into their professional practice? Can schools be equipped to deal with this new situation? Here is a guide published by the CSQ on the subject.

Webography and commentary on digital identity
Patrick Giroux, professor at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi and author of PédagoTIC, created this wiki in order to gather links and comments about digital identity in order to facilitate the understanding of the concept, its scope and of its importance by teachers or teaching students at the university.

Digital identity, a lever or a burden
Karine Thonnard, RÉCIT facilitator for the Federation of Private Education Institutions (FÉEP), shares her PowerPoint presentation in support of her conferences on social media at school. It can also be seen in context in the video of a virtual workshop offered on the subject by Karine Thonnard, Judith Cantin and Pierre Lachance, all RÉCIT resource persons. " They proposed a process of reflection and avenues of action on the subject to the participants. Their goal: to ensure that each person is well informed and can in turn raise awareness and train others on the issue of digital identity by having resources at their disposal. The article on the RÉCIT website provides a direct link to the video as well as a more detailed background:

Digital Identity: To Be Or Not To Be On The Web?
A dossier on the question of digital identity approached from the angle of the college level. It sheds light on what constitutes digital identity and on identification and authentication mechanisms. It also presents some courses of action to allow you to remain in control of your digital identity while taking full advantage of the Web: assess your brand image, boost your cyber reputation, present your digital portfolio, etc.

Digital Identity: Don't let your image escape you
In October 2012, the Action Innocence Suisse association launched a campaign with 2 shocking visuals to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults about the protection of digital identity. The objective is to inform and make young people think without moralizing or demonizing the practices related to the use of Internet and social networks.

Dedicated organization websites

Web Aware
National bilingual public information program on Internet safety, particularly at home. It is aimed at parents and wants to equip them so that they can effectively help their children to make informed decisions when they are online.

A door wide open
Resource from the Canadian Center for Child Protection, for parents, teachers and others. In the section dedicated to teachers, there are resources adapted to each cycle of teaching. On the parents' side, these resources are classified according to the age of the child.

Internet Without Fear
Internet Without Fear is the national program to make young people aware of the risks and challenges of the Internet. It is part of the European project Safer Internet Plus which brings together 30 European countries. On the site, there are separate areas for different audiences: parents, teachers, 7-12 years old and 12-17 years old.

Do you know others? We invite you to add them to the list by leaving a comment.

Your comments about this article

To comment on this article and add your ideas, we invite you to follow us on social networks. All articles are published there and it is possible to comment directly on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Do you have news to share with us or would you like to publish a testimonial?

Publicize your educational project or share your ideas via our Opinion, Testimonials or Press Releases sections! Here's how to do it!

Do you like what you read?

Subscribe and receive the next 3 issues of École branchée magazine (print or digital, French or English) in addition to our exclusive online files!

Learn more >

About the Author

Audrey Miller
Audrey Miller
General manager of École branchée, Audrey holds a graduate degree in educational technologies and a bachelor's degree in public communication. Member of the Order of Excellence in Education of Quebec, she is particularly interested in the professional development of teachers, information in the digital age and media education, while actively creating bridges between the actors of the educational ecosystem since 1999. She is involved these days in particular in Edteq Association and as a member of the ACELF Communications Committee. When she has free time, she is passionate about her children, his rabbits, horses, good wine and... Web programming!

Receive the Weekly Newsletter

Get our Info #DevProf and l'Hebdo so you don't miss anything new!

You might also like: