Online Reputation and Teens

It’s the holidays and that can mean more time online.

We are becoming a broken record as we try to explain to our kids what they post online can potentially affect their future.

The Internet is a wonderful educational tool but can also work against us if not properly used.  I like to use the phrase, “the Internet is like a gun, you have to learn to use it responsibly.”

The dangers of technology, especially for kids and teens, has been in the media for the past several years.  Whether it is cyberbullying or Internet predators, our country is not a stranger to these horrific events.

For teens looking forward to a higher education and especially those in need of scholarships to help them finance college, they need to think before they post on their social networking sites such as Facebook.

According to a 2011 Kaplan study, 80% of college admissions are using search engines and a students’ social media presence to screen their applicants which means your college application aren’t the only papers being reviewed about your child.  Do you know what your digital footprint is saying about you?

Now let’s talk money.  Especially in today’s economy many families and students are applying for as many scholarships are they can.  Recent reports, like college admissions, are also using students’ social media presence to determine whether they deserve the scholarship.

Facebook is obviously the largest social networking site that many use.  Isn’t it time to encourage your teen to sit down and clean it up?  Especially with the latest Facebook Timeline, it is simply a click away to see pictures or comments that simply just don’t need to be there.  Remember, unfortunately all your posts and comments on your friends pages are still lingering in cyberspace too.  So now is the time to seriously stop and think before you post that silly comment.  Is it really worth a scholarship?

You may think because your child’s Facebook is set on private you are safe.  Don’t be fooled.  If it’s online, it’s usually public information – remember your child is friends with friends that may not have their privacy settings set as high.

Don’t risk losing a scholarship or a college of your choice for a dumb remark online or a compromising photo!

3 Tips to maintain your teen’s digital resume:

  • Set up your Google, MSN, Bing, Yahoo, Twilert alerts (always know when there is something online about you so you can address it immediately). It only takes a few minutes, it is free and can save you a lot of reputation repair later on.
  • Buy your own URL in your teen’s name.  This can be less than $10.00 through GoDaddy and you can own your own online real estate.  Building a site can be easy and if you can do it with your personal interests, it sets the tone  for your future.  Weebly.com is a free service to build your website.
  • Create a Blog about you and your interests.  This is free.  Use your name as the URL.  You can use Blogger.com (Blogspot) or WordPress.com.  Both are user friendly and again, create it about you and your interests.  Keep your grammar and spelling in check.

Check these examples out!

Should You Snoop On Your Teens Online?

When safety trumps privacy--parents need to know.

When safety trumps privacy–parents need to know.

When safety trumps privacy–yes, a parents responsibility is to be in the know!

Let’s face it, our kids crave their privacy just like adults–but they are not adults.  We want to give them their space, and trust them, however it is the outsiders that we worry about.  Especially when it comes to virtually strangers!

How to snoop on your kid when they are online?  It sounds very sneaky, but their safety is always a priority.  When you understand that it is not about invading their privacy as much as it is about insuring their security you will find the sense of comfort.

How would you feel if your son or daughter ended up meeting a stranger offline they meet in a chatroom since you felt it was too invasive to glance into their cyber-world?  Remember, you are a parent first—you have the rest of your life to be their friend.

As kids approach adolescence, their need for privacy and insistence upon keeping parts of their life away from the prying eyes of a parent can make it difficult to monitor their activity. With the advent of smartphones that allow your child to carry the Internet around with him in his pocket, the need to make sure that he’s not getting into online trouble can feel even greater. While it’s usually more effective to attempt an open dialogue about what is and is not considered appropriate online behavior before resorting to spy-level surveillance, there may be times when snooping feels like the only choice.

Monitoring Software

Even less than tech-savvy parents can learn to navigate parental monitoring software, which is designed to run in the background and be undetectable by users. There are several varieties of monitoring programs, all with different features and levels of functionality. One thing that they all have in common is an ability to reveal all the things your child is doing online when you’re not there to look over his shoulder.

Limit Computer Use to Common Areas

If you’ve opted not to give your child a web-capable smartphone or a laptop, then you may find it easier to snoop while he’s online if the main computer is located in a high-traffic area of your home. When your child knows that a simple glance his way could reveal questionable web content he’s viewing, he’s more likely to think twice about what he looks up. Not only will you be able to keep an eye on what your child is looking at, but you’ll also be able to influence him into making better choices based solely on your nearby presence.

Check Your Browser History

Older kids with more advanced computer knowledge may be savvy enough to delete their browser history, but younger kids and tweens may not yet have the required know-how. After your child uses the computer, take a moment to scroll through the browser history. You’ll be able to access all of the pages your child has recently viewed, allowing you to get a good idea of what areas need to be addressed most.

Fake Social Networking Profiles

If your children haven’t deleted you from their Facebook friends list yet, there’s a strong possibility that they’ve learned to manipulate the safety and security settings so that they can block what you’re able to see. One way to make sure that you’re seeing everything posted on your child’s timeline and every interaction he has is to sign up for your own fake profile and use it to add your child. Unless he’s naturally suspicious of strangers, he probably won’t block the visibility of his posts to a new friend.

Keystroke Recording Software

Every email, every message and every web search can be recalled with a keystroke recorder, along with your child’s passwords. If you have a serious reason to believe that something is wrong and you’ll need to be able to confront your child with concrete evidence to make a difference, keystroke software may be the way to go. Be warned, however, that a child who’s not actually involved in questionable activities will almost certainly feel that she has no privacy or grounds for trusting her parents. In the event of an emergency, these programs can be quite valuable tools for parents.

Webcam Monitoring

There are ways to remotely view everything the webcam in your child’s computer sees, but it’s wise to think long and hard before resorting to such things. No invasion of privacy is as personal or as upsetting as being actively watched when you’re not aware of it. Furthermore, there are some sights a parent just doesn’t need to see.

Smartphone Apps

Do you want to track your child’s movements with an online GPS service connected to his phone or block content he’s able to view with the device? There are a slew of kid-monitoring apps available for smartphones that can help you keep tabs on your child when he’s away from home.

These methods will help you track and monitor what your kids are doing online, but there is no app or program to replace the trust that is almost certain to be lost when your child discovers the depth of your investigation. Before resorting to underhanded means of finding out what your youngster is up to, you may want to attempt having an open, judgment-free conversation about boundaries, appropriate behavior and the implications of being careless on the Internet.

Reference:  Nanny Background Check

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