Do your kids have a Twitter or Facebook account that you created for them? Maybe you are reading that line and thinking are you CRAZY who would do that? Believe us, it happens all the time. They say one of the challenges our kids will face is coming up with Twitter names and Facebook, or emails with their names as they will all be taken. We know, we shake our heads at that too but it is a reality and people are actually as soon as the baby is born securing them the pages and accounts they want them to have just so they can get the names they want. The parents are then throughout the years posting pictures and filling their social media accounts with milestone moments for their child. Without even thinking these parents are creating a digital footprint for their child.
It’s the world we live in, everything goes online. From wishing our spouse a Happy Anniversary, to celebrating our children’s milestones and accomplishments with our 500+ closest friends and family through social media. We are putting everything online, but are we really stopping to think about what digital footprint we are creating for our children? We use their names, we wish them happy birthday on the specific day, we put great pictures of them online, we share those cute baby milestone pictures. How many of you have seen pictures of your friends kids potty training? We see it all the time. Are those really the pictures our kids are going to want online when they Google their name or when it comes time to start applying for university and they are being searched by the administration office before being accepted into the program. Or what about when they are looking for a job and now potential employers are Googling our kids, what have we shared about our kids that could be potentially embarrassing for them down the road.
As adults we tend to Google ourselves to see what is posted online about us, but have you ever Googled your child’s name? We can guarantee you that they will be searched on Google for their next babysitting opportunity, job or by the college/university they are applying to. The thought of this may seem far away, but you now have the opportunity to help them create a positive online digital footprint by knowing what is out there about them. You may be thinking… “My child has no digital footprint they aren’t on any social platforms”, but you created one for them by sharing pictures of them online and using their name. Have their friends created one for them tagging them in posts and images? You want to know what is out and public for all to see about your child.
If you find negative information, you will want to help them to push that out with the positive. Sit down with them encourage them to start creating a positive digital footprint and online reputation. Encourage them to:
- Know what others are saying and have said about them online.
- Search their own name on Google and other search engines.
- Be positive! If they can’t say anything nice don’t respond, engage, or post mean, hurtful comments.
- Surround themselves online with positive role models and influences.
- If they have a negative online reputation… Clean it up and push out the bad with good quality content. Know that it is there and be prepared to respond to what has been posted.
- Watch what pictures they share of themselves, others will see them and judge them on the content of the pictures.
- Set their privacy settings so that only friends can see what they are posting.
- Keep in mind that anonymous sites are not always anonymous and that what they post, even if you delete it will still remain online.
We not only encourage you to search on Google, but try putting their name in on other search engines, try adding quotations around their name. You will get a different result then just typing in the name. (ie.“Socially Safe”) Ultimately, you want to know what is online about your child and help them create a positive digital footprint moving forward. Start the conversation by asking them if they know what is online about them or how to find out. Do it together and be remember to be #SociallySafe.