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One Thing Parents Can Do Right Now to Improve Their Child’s Digital Reputation

Cyber Safety Cop Friday, July 3, 2015

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, situation.

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

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