When your teen shares a Facebook post or an Instagram photo with all of their friends, they’re probably not thinking much further into the future than however long it takes to get reactions to their posting. But what your teen does online can last a long time, and it can affect their future. It’s become very common for college admissions officers and employers to Google applicants to find out more about them, and your teen could lose out on their top college or dream job if they aren’t careful. You can help your teen learn how to protect their online reputation with these steps.
Update Privacy Settings
The less public your teen is, the better. Make sure they know privacy protocol.
Your teen’s social media profiles shouldn’t be open to the whole world, even if everything they post is anodyne. Not only will locking down their privacy settings protect their reputations, but it’s also a good safety precaution.
Many social media sites have their privacy settings set to public by default, so make sure that your child knows how to find them and change them so that their information and activity is only viewable by people they choose. Remind your kids that they need to check their privacy settings periodically to make sure that nothing has changed, as privacy settings are sometimes affected by site updates or other factors.
Narrow the Networks
It’s common for teens to expand their social networks by collecting online “friends” that they don’t have any real-world connection with. However, this increases the risks of both privacy violations and the sharing of inappropriate content.
Have your teen do a purge of their social media networks, narrowing them down to only people that they know or have a reason to connect with online. Make sure that they also get rid of connections that post potentially offensive content.
Delete Problematic Material
Encourage your teen to go through their social media profiles and delete images or content that could be construed as offensive or otherwise problematic. It’s not worth attempting to be funny or edgy if it’s going to keep your teen from being accepted at their dream college.
Knowing what’s going to show up when someone searches for your teen can help you strategically manage their online image.
Have your teen Google their name, or do it for them and show them what comes up. If your teen has a common name, you may need to add a location or other identifying search term to bring up their results. It’s safe to say that an employer or admissions officer will know where they live or where they went to high school and will use those terms to narrow their search, so don’t assume that you’re fine if nothing comes up from their name alone.
Whatever comes up in those search results is going to be seen by anyone else that googles those search terms. This can give you a big-picture view of what’s out there. There may be social media networks that your teen signed up for and forgot about, or pictures shared on someone else’s account that your teen is tagged in. This can tell you what kind of cleanup you need to do. Delete old accounts, have your teen untag themselves in potentially embarrassing pictures, and do what you can to add more positive posts that will show up in the search terms.
In a sense, everyone has a brand image these days, and it’s never too early to make sure that your teen’s image is a positive one. Parental monitoring software can help you keep an eye on what your teen is doing and prevent them from posting reputation-damaging material. To find out how it works, get our free trial