Why Your Digital Compass Matters!

Andrew had it made - he was on his way to Princeton University with a full scholarship in hand. The world was his oyster and he felt invincible…perhaps, too much so. In a flash, it was all gone. A few Twitter posts of dubious taste resulted in the university pulling Andrew’s scholarship, telling him his online behavior was not “Princeton worthy”. This was a devastating outcome for Andrew - some might even argue it was unfair. Still, his story serves as a powerful reminder to the rest of us, that our digital footprint only has as much integrity as the very worst thing we ever post. Just ask Anthony Weiner.

 

While some people are their own worst enemy when it comes to online navigation, other adversaries lurk - in the dark web, anonymous message boards, phishing scams and fake news sites. Identities get stolen, people get bullied and misinformation gets appropriated. Despite this, the Internet is arguably the most important invention of the past 50 years and has become a necessary tool for living and working in the new millennium.  Navigating this terrain requires a commitment to be vigilant in protecting our online pathways. Your Digital Compass is a tool developed to help you arrive safely at your chosen destinations.

 

Your Digital Compass (YDC) focuses primarily on youth - helping them develop safe online habits and enabling them with the skills and sensibility needed to stay safe. YDC also serves as a powerful online resource for parents and educators, supporting their efforts to make the Internet a safe space for kids and protecting their digital footprint. At the heart of YDC’s mission is a simple challenge to Internet users…THINK:

 

  • Take time to consider how others could interpret what you post online.

  • Have safeguards in place such as anti-malware programs.

  • Identify the specific goals you have for each Internet session and stay on track.

  • Never provide personal identification or financial information without a secure connection and vetting of the site.

  • Know the risks of what you share online and use your best judgment.

 

The need to implement YDC’s THINK model has never been greater, which is why I bring the YDC message to schools and other organizations throughout Missouri. I also promote the message extensively through my website, yourdigitalcompass.org, and across social media. Nearly 290 million Americans use the Internet in some capacity - not all with desirable results. The latest statistics on cybercrime reveal that more than 16 million people had their identities stolen online resulting in more than $16 billion in theft. Other online crimes, such as blackmail, bullying, phishing and sex crimes continue to rise at alarming rates. Most experts agree that people simply aren’t doing enough to protect themselves.

 

As the founder of Your Digital Compass and, potentially, as Miss Missouri, I will be in a unique position to deliver YDC’s universal message to a much broader audience than I currently reach. In addition to the support I provide through the YDC website, I will have access to key influencers across the state - teachers and lawmakers - who are well-positioned to make meaningful and sustainable changes for improving our digital safety. Over the past several years, I have been an outspoken advocate for protecting the digital footprints of people from all age groups and socio-economic backgrounds. 

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