There is another rite-of-passage talk being added to the parental roster.  A talk that can affect a teen’s ability to get hired or even attend school.  We’re talking about your child’s use of sites like facebook.

While it may seem silly, it’s more important than ever to talk to your kids about their behavior online, particularly on online social sites.  Google’s recently retired CEO, Eric Schmidt, actually said that someday kids may even contemplate changing their names at age 18 to wipe the “online” slate clean.

While most of what teens post online is pretty innocent (for teenagers anyway) it only takes a few inappropriate photos, offensive comments or even a simple public misunderstanding to turn a fun site into a problem-causing, online nightmare.

Here we break down some of the more compelling reasons why kids, teens and, well, everyone needs to watch what they are putting online.

33% of employers have decided not to hire someone based on their online profile –

Most people know how to present themselves as an ideal candidate at a job interview.  That’s why employers around the nation are now taking to facebook and Google to see what candidates are really like.

Pictures of wild parties, tons of typos and slang language or (and it’s happened) negative comments about your current or future employer?  Don’t expect to get a call back.

Schools care too –

While it may be a bit of an extreme example, the young woman who recently left UCLA after creating a YouTube video complaining about Asian students using their cell phones in the library on the same day the tsunami hit, is a telling example of how school’s view student’s social media use.

High Schools around the nation are also taking note of what is being said online about their schools, their faculty and their student body.  New stories are coming out around the nation about students who have been suspended or expelled for status updates that threaten to defame a teacher.

High schools are also cracking down on cyber-bullying, which consists of making offensive and/or hurtful comments about someone online. Even comments made in the heat of an argument can be construed as bullying and cause a student to be disciplined.  Teens need to be reminded that unlike a fight between two friends, which tends to be relatively private, a fight on facebook can be seen by the hundreds of friends each person has.  The written word also has no “tone” so misunderstandings are far easier.

It never goes away –

Every single post, photo and other media uploaded to facebook is kept and is being archived permanently in the Smithsonian.  Everything posted on the Internet is there forever.  Even if a student takes down an offensive post or video, there is a chance that someone has already duplicated and shared the content and the original creator will have very little chance of getting it removed.

You can help your teen –

It’s important to talk to your kids and let them know that their words have consequences.  If they wouldn’t say it in front of their principal, it’s good idea not to put it on facebook.

Remind teens that the internet is a public forum no matter how private it may feel to them.  It’s also important to talk to them about friends vs. facebook friends.  Chances are they can’t count on hundreds of facebook friends to be discreet or understand the context behind the occasional angry post.

Have any more questions?  Let us know in the comment section below.

 

 

 

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