Harmful Digital Footprint Impacts That Parents Should Know About

July 29, 2015

Growing up, most of us have made an error in judgement at some point. The difference between most current parent’s teenage years and youth today is a digitized footprint. Mistakes aren’t as easy to erase as they used to be because so much of our lives are shared online.

Most teens utilize some form of social media tool that enables them to effectively document their life. However, as we know life is full of mistakes. While social media has many positive attributes, teens and their parents are often not fully aware of the potential danger. This extends from maintaining a positive online reputation to protecting your child’s identity from being stolen.

Parents now have the burden of providing guidance to their teenaged children in educating them on how to properly manage their digital footprint as well as driving home the serious potential harmful implications it could have on their future in terms of college admissions, employment, overall reputation, and safety.

5 Potential Harmful Digital Footprint Impacts For Teens

1.) College Admissions & the Military: College admissions officers can and do read your teen’s online profile. If your son or daughter is applying to college and is on the bubble against another applicant, the difference between them gaining acceptance, and receiving a rejection letter could be something immature that was posted on social media. This extends to moral aptitude requirements in the military if your child is planning on enlisting.

2.) Scholarships: Scholarships often ask applicants to share their social media profiles as part of the process in applying online. Any immature posts, cyber bullying, or generally distasteful material found on your child’s profile could prevent prohibit them from gaining a scholarship.

3.) Sports: Is your son or daughter planning on playing sports in college? Recruiters and coaches surely will want to know about your teen’s conduct on social media.

4.) Employers & Internships: Employers will Google your kids. Even if it’s just a job they are applying for to make some extra money while going to college. Additionally college internships are now becoming a prerequisite for gaining employment post-college. Internships are competitive enough. The difference between your son or daughter and another applicant could be their digital footprint.

5.) Identity Theft: Your teen’s identity is at risk. Any photo that is publicly shared is fair game for identity thieves. Posting personal information is a serious liability. Identity theft is on the rise and is a serious problem with very damaging consequences.

The good news is, there are resources available to help you. Use our Clean Your Digital Footprint Checklist as a starting point.

Not sure how to get the conversation started? Watch our video: Digital Reputation

In addition to the great advice on Good Digital Parenting, you can find resources such as Cornerstone Reputation to help you work with your child on maintaining positive online presence. Remember, it is best to be proactive. Think not just about what NOT to do online, but also about ways to create a positive online profile.

Written by

Anthony Fani

Anthony is a policy research intern at the Family Online Safety Institute and a senior at The George Washington University majoring in Political Science and History. He has previous experience working on Capitol Hill and the British Embassy.