It’s never too early to begin talking with your kids about managing their online reputation. As early as high school, what gets posted online can have lasting effects. Not only can it effect their ability to gain admissions to the college of their choice, seemingly harmless posts can lead to school suspension, being kicked off a sports team, and effect their ability to get a job.
Check out these examples if you need something to show your kids
- 20 students suspended over liking a photo about a school shooting
- A profane tweet cost a high school basketball player of the year his award, and it was only online for 15 minutes.
- 10 incoming Harvard freshmen had their admittance letters rescinded after Facebook members in a chat surfaced..
- Former Parkland School shooting survivor lost admission to Harvard after a racist comment he posted when he was 16 surfaced in 2019.
- A Bloomsburg University baseball player was dismissed from the team after he posted an offensive tweet about Little League World Series pitcher Mo’ne Davis
Most parents are concerned about the danger lurking online in the form of cyberbullying or sexting. In fact, 54% of teens report if their parents knew what happened online, they’d be more worried about it. Almost 60% of teens have been bullied or harassed online – and girls are more likely to be victims of cyberbullying than boys. The area of the brain that associates consequences with choices isn’t fully developed in teens, its important parents begin early stressing the importance of online reputation management.
It’s never too early to start
How early is too early? In my opinion, the earlier the better. What’s the best way to get started? It begins by having open lines of communication. As early as elementary school, parents can begin talking with kids about values like integrity, respect, kindness and accountability. One simple way to have this conversation can be having a child talk about what makes a good friend or to describe how good friends would behave. Ask the reverse as well. What makes someone a bad friend? This should open the door to valuable conversation.
As they age, it becomes important to not only stress safety, but also consequences. You also need to reinforce the fact these consequences might show up years later. Just check out these statistics:
- 35 % of college admission officials say the post or pictures they found on an applicant’s page negatively affected the applicant’s admission or awarding of financial aid.
- 94% of grad schools check the on-line presence of applicants when they apply.
- 86% of employers check applicants out through social media before they will offer an interview.
DIfferent types of online reputations
Coaches, colleges and businesses don’t want to form relationships with kids who have bad online reputations. Let’s look at how kids develop bad reputations online?
First, they don’t have a filter on what they post or tweet. They say anything that crosses their mind. Other fill threads with bragging and boasting. It makes them come across as very self-focused. Some use their social media to vent or fill it with angry posts or even go as far as bullying others.
Questionable photos are always an issue. According to CareerBuilder, 46% of employers admit to not hiring someone over provocative or inappropriate photos or videos and 43% used information about a candidate drinking or drug use as a reason not to hire them. These photos could be from as far back as college.
On the flip side, how can you help your teen begin to build a positive online relationship?
Building a positive reputation online
Start by stressing safety. Remind them, it’s important to take their online presence seriously. You can’t rely on the privacy settings of account. You also can’t count on the fact you’re using an app like Snapchat where posts disappear to keep you out of trouble. Never assume only your friends will see your post, they could screen shot it or someone could make a video of it from their phone. Keep a close watch over what others are tagging you in. Make sure you have alerts set up so you can approve this information before it’s public.
Use your social media to show you doing good things like working or being a part of a team, volunteering, participating in church activities. Post shout outs to others who are doing good things. Have a potential major or career in mind? Share articles or information that show you are interested.
Show you can get along with and have a diverse and inclusive friend group. Share awards or congratulations you receive.
It’s never too early for a parent to talk with their kid about their digital reputation. Establishing boundaries for social media is important and parents should remain involved and help them develop habits that will help and not hinder them from reaching their future success. For more tips on how to use social media so colleges notice your kids for the right reason, download my FREE checklist today.