Kids and teens today are exposed to the Internet and social networks. At an early age, they’re starting to leave their digital footprints. When they reach adulthood, all their status updates, comments, photos, and private messages will be their online reputation. Even their online behavior helps form their identity online. Their activities on the Internet are hard to erase which could impact their future. A child or teen’s relationships, credit scores, employment and college applications may be put at risk.
Sue Scheff, a Parent, and Family Internet Expert said that “Drunk driving literally ends lives. But digital drama can potentially end a bright future for your child and their dreams”. As parents, we need to teach our kids about the value of good digital citizenship.
Here are some tips on how you can help your teens and kids manage their online reputation.
Search for their online profiles
Kids and teens are heavy media users, and one of the best ways to manage their online reputation is by searching for their online profiles. Check their nicknames, whole names, and even the town or street they live in. Use Google to search for images about your kids or teens. If you discover negative photos or comments about your child, remove them immediately. Set up Google alerts for web mentions or news about your children. Manage their digital footprint for them until they’re mature enough to manage it.
Keep personal information personal
Identity theft could lead to cyberbullying or online fraud. Teach your kids, especially your teens, about keeping their personal information personal. Remind them not to share their phone numbers, home address, birth date, and even the name of their pet dog. You can also teach them to adjust the privacy settings of their social media accounts to help keep their personal information private. Teach your children to create a strong password which is hard to guess. It should be a combination of symbols, letters, number, uppercase and lowercase characters. Also, they should never share their passwords with anyone – not even with their closest friends. Passwords are personal and it should be kept that way.
Discuss the importance of online safety
Online safety is important and it should be discussed often with your kids and teens. Discussions should be appropriate to your child’s age. The basic safety rules while online would help them spot risks which could damage their online reputation. Listen to what they have to say or share about their experiences online. Let the communication flow freely to build trust between you and your kids. Opening the lines of communication will help them realize the importance of online safety.
There is not “Reset” or “Delete” button for online reputations
All their actions and behavior online will remain online. Ashley, a junior high school student from Illinois, reminds her peers to, “Be smart about what you put on the Internet because you never know who is looking at what you have on there”. She’s careful when sharing photos or status messages online. An inappropriate photo or nasty comment can get someone kicked out of their school’s sports team or be summoned to the principal’s office. There is no “Delete” or “Reset” button when it comes to online reputations.
Let these simple tips help you manage your kid or teen’s online reputation. If you need further help with protecting their privacy and monitoring their online you, consider MomSecure’s premium services. Click here to learn more about our services.