Like so many things in life, getting into college has become a lot more complicated in recent years. Today it’s about more than just grades and school activities. Now you have to take your child’s online reputation into consideration. With kids spending more and more time on the internet, what they say and show on Facebook and other social media outlets can affect
whether or not an admissions advisor thinks your child is a good fit for their school.
According to a recent study, 38% of college admissions directors admit that what they saw on applicant’s social profiles “negatively affected” their views of the applicant. Safetyweb, an online safety monitoring service for parents, was founded to address this problem (along with the many other online safety concerns), however there are also common sense approaches every parent can take to help protect their child’s reputation.
- Inform: Most children and teenagers do not understand the implications that their online postings and photographs may bring since they don’t realize content posted on the Internet remains there forever. It’s a basic common sense point, but kids need to understand that they must think it through before clicking the upload button. If it’s something they don’t want their Great Aunt Sally to see, then they shouldn’t be posting it online.
- Keeping Track: It’s also important to be able to recognize an already problematic online reputation or one in the making. Keep an eye on what your child is doing by checking their Facebook or MySpace page on a regular basis or better yet, become their online friend to see what they’ve posted. Based on what you see, ask yourself, are these normal musings of a child or a teenager? Is the content posted of a positive, proactive nature? These are questions that should be asked and then evaluated to determine if their online activities are acceptable to be on display for the world to see.
- Educating Yourself: As a parent, keep up to date on what’s being done on a public policy level when it comes to online safety. Become familiar with legislation such as The Child Online Protection Act which seeks to protect children from viewing unwanted content, and possibly furthermore associating themselves with it. Internet service providers can also be a good
resource as they are usually eager to work with parents if it means removing inappropriate content involving a minor. At SafetyWeb.com they strive to be a reliable source to find out more about new laws and online resources geared to help inform and educate parents on how to protect your child’s overall cyber safety. Help is out there if and when you need it.
The good news is once you and your child establish good online habits, they’re easy to maintain, and can make a difference in protecting your child’s good name.
Geoffrey Arone is the co-founder of SafetyWeb (www.safetyweb.com), the leading service simplifying online safety by helping parents guard their children’s online safety, identity and reputation. The service monitors the web to deliver reports and immediate alerts on irregularities and dangers associated with kids’ and teens’ online activity.