A student’s online reputation matters. Good or bad, it can
have lasting effects on their future. A 2014 survey by Kaplan Test Prep of 400
college admissions officers showed thirty-five percent say they try to learn
more about candidates by looking at their online profiles on social networking
sites. Sixteen percent of the admissions officers discovered something negative.
According to the career advice website "The Muse,” Seventy-nine percent of
job recruiters say they will look at a candidate's presence online before
making a decision. Seventy percent say they've rejected a candidate after
seeing something negative online.
I talk to students and parents all over the United States
about cyber safety and digital reputation management. When you ask a student
for examples of how you can hurt your digital reputation, they can give many
examples, some from personal experience. When I ask them for suggestions on how
they can improve their digital reputation, I am met with blank stares and
uncomfortable silence. Across the board, students have no idea how to build a
good digital reputation, and their parents aren’t much help.
I would like to share one way a parent can help their child
develop a good digital reputation, and it is really easy.
Step 1. Help your child identify a cause or charity they are
or can be passionate about. Then look for an organization that supports that
cause and posts updates on social media. Have your child “follow” one of the
charity’s social media feeds (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc).
Step 2. Have your child share (re-post) the charity’s posts
on their social network. They can include a personal comment about how they
feel about what the charity is doing.
Step 3. Encourage your child to find ways to support the
charity in other ways. If it’s a local charity, go and volunteer with them, or
help fundraise in your neighborhood.
Step 4. When your child’s friends show an interest in their
cause, invite them to help spread the news and volunteer.
I tell students in my workshop, this will do three things:
One, you will look good to anyone on your network and future colleges or business recruiters.
Two, you will be good. Volunteering and serving others has
an amazing effect on who you are as a person. You become less self-absorbed and
begin thinking about others first.
Three, you will help others be better. The beneficiary of
the charity (e.g., homeless people from a food bank, or rescued animals in a
shelter, etc.) benefits when you volunteer your time. And when you recruit your
friends to help, you are multiplying your efforts. It’s a win – win - win,
This tip came from my new book, Parenting in a Digital World. In addition to learning how to help
your child manage their digital reputation, you will learn how to turn on all
the security and privacy settings on all of your child’s devices and social
media apps, how predators use social media to exploit children, and what to do
if your child is a victim of online threats or cyberbullying.
Find out more about Parenting in a Digital World