In today’s Internet-centric world, there is no end to the barrage of information hurled at us on a daily basis. This is likely to continue to increase as time goes on and technology continues to evolve. As someone who attended high school before the days of Facebook, Twitter, and texting, I am often grateful that some of my past transgressions were not immortalized in embarrassing detail on the Internet. We all see the images and hear the stories of humiliation, bullying, and potentially damaging information being published online while kids and teens are still too naive to realize that what they do now can follow them for a very long time –what can we do to help these kids learn to play and interact in the Internet world without jeopardizing their futures?
A Kaplan study recently revealed that 80% of colleges and universities check applicants Facebook profiles before considering them for recruitment or admission. I highly doubt that the average 16 year old is considering this when posting about their most recent love woe or what happened at the party they attended last Saturday. The Internet has a long memory; how far into their adult life will a transgression follow someone? Teens are known for periodic lapses in judgment. My guess is that as “real life” becomes more intertwined with “Internet life” people will become more tolerant of online blunders made in one’s youth. Right now, however, the shock value is still great.
You can help your teen prevent their now from negatively affecting their future by offering some quick advice. First, be sure that Facebook profiles are marked ‘private’ and any photos that your teen is tagged in are appropriate for public viewing. If they are fighting you on this one, a quick Google Image search of embarrassing photos should help them see the light. Teens have a tendency to be a bit more impulsive in what they post on Facebook and Twitter. I often recommend people follow a pretty simple rule for posting to social sites: If you wouldn’t say it in front of your mother, child, or boss, you probably shouldn’t say it on the web. It will come back to haunt you. If you’re concerned about your child’s online activity, consider setting up a free Trackur account with their name as the search subject. Show them how quickly their words can spread.
Have you made any embarrassing blunders online? How did you save face?