In the current digital age, 95% of all teens are online and 80% of them have had various opportunities to share their personal information and create content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Many of these kids don’t realize the importance of maintaining a positive online reputation. Their focus is the present and they usually don’t consider the consequences of their internet activities. If careless, a teen’s digital footprint can have long term negative effects ranging from lost job opportunities to denied college admissions.
As early as 2006 reports began to surface indicating that colleges were conducting internet searches to learn about potential applicants. A simple Google search provides all kinds of information about an individual’s reputation including everything they’ve posted about themselves on websites, blogs or Facebook pages. In addition, a search will turn up information that others have posted about them. If a teen’s online reputation is less than positive, it could have severe consequences on their future aspirations.
It takes planning and time to develop a solid online reputation and only an instant to lose it. Parents can help their teen develop a positive image by raising awareness and teaching them to create and maintain the kind of online profile that will present them in the best possible light.
Tips To Help Kids Manage a Positive Online Reputation:
- Monitor – As a parent your role is to be a gatekeeper. Monitor privacy controls and be aware of your child’s online environment.
- The Power of First Impressions – Encourage your teen to explore social networks before jumping right in and connecting with others. Check it out first to see if this a positive place where you’d want your teen to make their presence known. If not, search for another network that’s a better fit.
- Posting Pictures & Videos – Tell your child that if they wouldn’t want Grandma to see it, they shouldn’t post it! This doesn’t mean they can only post pictures or videos of puppies and kittens. Most likely your teen has enough common sense to know what’s inappropriate and what’s not. Also advise them not to post inappropriate pictures or videos of anyone else.
- PR Activities To Manage a Personal Brand – When your teen is online, have them emphasize their accomplishments and other positive information such as artistic achievements or talents, hobbies and community service projects. Have them write blog posts on these accomplishments or provide links to extracurricular activities. Besides building a positive online presence, this will provide a way to interact with others who share the same interests. When done correctly, age-appropriate postings emphasizing your teen’s strengths can help distinguish their job or college application from the pack.
- Google Alerts – Set up a Google Alerts subscription. This free service sends you updates whenever Google finds a new link related to the search terms you provide. Enter your teen’s name and any nicknames as well as other terms connected to relevant activities and organizations.
Before your teenager does something foolish that might ruin any future prospects, be a proactive parent and give them the right tools to express themselves in a positive light to create a future that you can both be proud of!