6 Tips on Managing Teen Online Reputations

How to manage teen online reputations and avoid cyberbullying

Teen girl in front of a laptop (000024449649)
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Teaching teens to use social media in a way that maintains a positive online reputation is a crucial component of college and career planning. Done correctly, it can open doors to colleges, scholarships, college networks and even a great career. What’s more, it gets teens thinking about social media as a tool rather than a place to post silly photos, share rants about school and engage in digital drama.

But to some parents, managing social media can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task, especially if your teen has experienced cyberbullying. As a result, many parents believe the best option in protecting their teen’s online reputation is to eliminate social media completely. However, research shows that it is actually more effective for older teens to engage with their online persona. Doing so, allows them to be more in charge of their online reputation and push positive content while suppressing negative content.

Here are six tips for managing teen’s online reputation while reducing the likelihood of cyberbullying.

Google your child’s name. Enter your child’s name and your city into Google and then read through what pops up. You also should search Google Images. You may find everything from your child’s elementary school newsletter where she made the Dean’s List to her Twitter account.

Look for things that could be viewed negatively and then see what you can do to remove anything that could reflect poorly on her. You also can set up a Google Alert on your teen’s name to keep track of any new content. You can have notifications sent to you once a day so that your inbox is not overwhelmed with notifications.

Talk to your child about posting responsibly. Be sure your teen has selected the appropriate privacy settings for her accounts. And remind her that she should only post items that she would be fine with “going viral.” Remember, a video of her silly dance moves at the local football game may be fun for friends and family to see, but if the video happens to go viral, this could open her up to bullying from strangers. Additionally, be sure your teen has good digital etiquette and that she knows what is appropriate to say and not say online.

Learn how to use social media to an advantage. For instance, if your teen achieves a goal or reaches a milestone, encourage her to post it on social media. And if it appears to be too much like bragging, then post it for her and tag her in it. The idea is that the positive things she has achieved will show up when colleges and recruiters Google her.

Meanwhile, encourage your teen to keep track of newsworthy events. For instance, if she excels at sports, volunteers for a charity, or makes the honor roll, keep a list of news sites that reference her.

This recognition can be used on applications and promoted in social media.

Join networking sites. Older teens also can look into joining LinkedIn and other professional networking sites in order to develop professional relationships. Many times, they may hear about scholarships, internships and other important opportunities through these networking sites. It also shows that your teen has depth beyond a circle of peers and that she is gearing up for the professional world.

Publish quality content. Encourage your teen to develop a blog or to make videos on YouTube that are of interest to others and are related to your teen’s potential career path. Or, encourage her to find a cause she is passionate about and create content around that. Not only does this show initiative and creativity on the part of your teen, but it also looks great on a college application, especially if her content is professional and gets good reviews. If she gets negative comments or reviews, change the settings to no longer allow comments or require that comments be approved before they can be posted.

According to SEO experts, the more high-quality content your teen publishes, the better her chances of outranking the negative content that can damage your teen’s online reputation. For instance, if your teen has experienced name-calling online or has been a victim of online gossip, her high quality content may push that negative content low enough in the search results that no one will see it.

Manage the content that is out there. Online reputation management can be challenging because there may be a great deal of references about your teen, but neither of you are the original poster of the information. To keep track of what others are posting, do a search once a month and check for any questionable posts. Send requests to website moderators and social media networks requesting that anything questionable be removed. Sites like Instagram and Facebook will investigate posts, especially when they pertain to minors.

Remember, your teen’s online reputation is a valuable asset and if handled properly it can open doors and impact her future. Focus on building a solid reputation now and your teen will have a head start on success. She also will experience much less cyberbullying when you are actively managing her online reputation.

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