Reputation Management: Teaching Kids How To Not Ruin Their Life Online
It only takes one minute to ruin a life. If you have just one good lapse in judgement, it can cost you everything. As kids haven't even really started their life yet, the cost is even higher. Unlike that permanent record that used to be used to threaten us as children, if they add one bad picture, post one bad thing, or trust the wrong person, it can create online devastation that really can follow them around permanently.
For most adults, managing our reputation online is a relatively new concept and easy to do providing common sense is followed. Unfortunately, kids lack the same life experience. They have yet to understand that their college admissions officer can Google them or their future employer can see their scandalous Facebook photos no matter what their privacy settings are. They need to learn about their online reputation and what they can do to manage it, so here are some things to teach your children before they make a mistake that can ruin their whole life.
Know Private is Never Private
If you put it out there online, it is best to just consider it public information. No matter what privacy settings a website has, there is always some way that those photos or secret passwords can get out into the world. What kids also need to understand is that it is not always viruses or hackers that are lifting their "private" information. The more people you share it with, the bigger the chance that things have of making out there. Even if it is a trusted friend, other people may have access to their computer.
Who You Are Online Stays With You
Your child may the personification of good manners and perfection in real life, but sadly it is not who we are in real life that matters when trying to get into college or apply for a job. First we start off as some person on paper, then some person on a screen, and finally after passing those hurdles do they bother with meeting us in person. If your child's online presence is all embarrassing status updates and awkward pictures, they might not get to that third and final stage. Even when deleted, your biggest internet mistakes stick around.
Online Actions Effect Others
Your child may say they are okay with whatever anyone thinks about them if they judge from their internet personas, but one thing they fail to realize is that their actions online can effect others offline. Cyberbullying is a real worry for many parents, but surprisingly one of the biggest effects their child can have online actually effects them. Say that you come home complaining about your terrible job and boss each day, and they post a status that says the same on their Facebook. Your boss might never read it, but if they do, you definitely wouldn't be the first person to be fired over such words.
Your child need it to be aware that what they put online might not effect them negatively, but it can effect others that way.
How to Fix Mistakes
Often instead of telling a child how to fix a mistake, we tell them to never make them. Unfortunately, childhood is all about making mistakes and then learning from them. If your child has shared something inappropriate, here is what to do:
- Delete the item immediately.
- Let your child know why what they put up was inappropriate so they won't make the same mistake again.
- If the item they shared has garnered some unwanted attention, don't be afraid to pull the social media plug for a little while. It will both serve to let the heat die down and to teach your child the consequences of their actions.