We all know our identities, but with the word “digital”?

Andy Ding
3 min readOct 4, 2020

What’s your identity? Obviously, this is not a question to be asked directly a lot in our daily life, but for most people, I believe they are aware of their identities in different social frameworks. What about adolescents? At this period of growth, adolescents are learning everything about identities. Well, that is a difficult thing since their mind is not as mature as adults. So, what would happen? Let’s leave this question for a minute, and think about another thing, which is do you ever think about your digital identity? Now I believe a lot of people would be confused. Of course, people all have their digital identities, even the most basic ones I talked about in the last week, such as digital immigrants and digital immigrants. That’s it? Well, I hope things could be that simple, but even just talk about myself, I use Yifan Ding on this site Medium, but on Twitter, I use Treeman Ding. They are both me, but somehow they are my two different digital identities. See, even for adults, there is a lot to say about digital identities. So, for adolescents?

Adolescents are in the age of identity exploring, and it is no doubt that aspects of that are limited in the physical world, and online contexts would provide more chances. Why? Because there are no traditional physical barriers such as time and distance in the digital world. In addition, one thing we could not forget is anonymity and disembodiment. These two features could be a double-edged sword because they have more trail-and-error turns, but risks also included. What’s more? Private space! Adolescents need private space to do a lot of things such as exploring new abilities (Wängqvist & Frisén, 2016). In my opinion, what I’ve just talked about holds for adults as well. Such as Youtubers, without YouTube, how many of them would still figure on what their identities are? And how many people would directly use their real names online? How many things that are on a highly demanding because of the rising of the digital world? See, even for adults, identity exploration never stops.

The digital identity formation plays a role in social networks impacting learning as well, and Bozkurt & Tu (2016) did some research to show that. Basically, the social network has influence since people are connected for reasons. And learning is never restricted in the classroom. So basically, it is a question of what I want to be in front of others. As a result, it is a good opportunity to explore and develop new identities, in order to make your values and beliefs more persuasive, or achieve benefits for you more easily.

Alec Couros asked a question at the end of his TED talk, which is “How do we help … kids discover and experience the many emerging possibilities [of the Internet] for networked, human connection while allowing them to safely grow and share their identities and the identities of others?” Personally, to teach them digital literacy skills are important, and strong support offered by both parents and different institutions is the most significant factor. Nevertheless, parents are people who had the experience. Although when involves in the factor of being online is still a new thing to them, or they are even discovering as well, they could still offer some basic suggestions. Actions from different institutions serve the function of regulating behaviors online are necessary as well since they are the first guarantee online. Right now, in China, websites and applications must have a teenage mode to ensure that young people could have a safe place to explore themselves. This is a good example of support.

Overall, we are still on the way to discover the digital world, and we have to remind ourselves that there are problems that we are not familiar with comes out all the time, maybe the next second.