7 Ways to Help Your Teen Maintain a Good Online Reputation

Help your teen create a good digital reputation
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Today’s teens have never known a world without the internet. For many teens, electronics have become a big part of their daily lives. Although there are many advantages to their technological savviness, their comfort with the online world can also place them at risk of becoming too complacent.

They may be tempted to share too much information without recognizing how such personal details could be viewed negatively by others.

Or, they may share questionable content under the assumption that it will never be viewed by anyone other than their friends. These types of behaviors can seriously damage a teen’s online reputation.

The Dangers of Bad Reputation

Most teens don’t think about the potential ramifications of their digital footprint. Employers, college admissions officers, and even future romantic partners are likely to do a little online research about your teen. Unfortunately, one inappropriate picture, disrespectful comment, or tasteless video could be quite damaging.

Many teens create an online persona that is much different than their real-life personality. A normally shy teen may feel brave enough to share lots of content when behind a screen. A teen who doesn’t feel attractive to her peers may share sexually explicit photos on the internet as a way to boost her self-confidence. Unfortunately, teens’ online activities may not give others an accurate first impression.

There have been many stories of college admissions officers denying students whose social media profiles are filled with beer-chugging photos and party-animal antics. Similarly, many prospective employers have passed on people who show disrespectful behavior online. After all, why would an employer want to risk hiring someone who is likely to bad-mouth the company in a public arena?

Many teens doubt the negative impact such social media activity can have on their future. The good news is, you can take steps to help your teen maintain a good online reputation.

Assist Your Teen in Establishing a Healthy Digital Reputation

Hold frequent conversations with your teen about how to maintain a good digital reputation. Encourage your teen to follow these guidelines:

  1. Imagine a future boss will read everything. Tell your teen to ask himself whether the information he’s about to post or share would look good to a future employer.
  2. Avoid posting anything when emotions are high. Unfortunately, teens who post comments when they’re upset may say things they later regret.
  3. Consider keeping a journal rather than a blog. Many teens are attracted to the idea of keeping an online blog on sites like Tumblr. They often incorrectly assume that keeping a blog under a fake name will mean their true identities will never be revealed. But, there’s always a chance someone will reveal your teen’s identity.  
  1. Talk about privacy settings. Privacy settings won’t prevent all problems. Tell your teen that it’s important to monitor privacy settings but make it clear that there’s always a risk information will become public.
  2. Educate your teen about various social media platforms. Stay informed about the latest social networking sites teens are using. Learn about the dangers of each and teach your teen about the potential risks of each platform.
  3. Refuse to join the crowd. Social media can lead to a mob mentality rather fast. Political commentary, cyberbullying, and disrespectful behavior can spread like wildfire. Teach your teen to resist the peer pressure and avoid conversations that could damage his reputation.
  4. Spread positive content. Encourage your teen to spread prosocial content. Create positive videos, share fun pictures, and inspirational messages. This can ensure that when others search for your teen online, positive content will surface.

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