High school can be an overwhelming experience for your teens. Between school and extracurriculars, it is easy for younger generations to forget about the state of their digital footprint, especially now as summer vacations are beginning. As many of your teens enjoy their time off from school, it is important to remind them to maintain positive online reputations, especially around the time that the college application process begins.
Although college admissions are not primarily concerned with heavily monitoring applicants’ social media profiles, admissions officers are relying more on digital reputations to discern the character of their applicants. This overview of social media does not just include applicants, but accepted students as well. Horror stories of rescinded applications can often be associated with inappropriate content that a child has posted online. A notable example of this, was an offensive Facebook group chat that cost 10 incoming freshmen entry into Harvard. Sexually explicit jokes and memes aimed at minority groups were produced from members of a larger meme group.
Thinking twice before posting revealing photos, offensive memes, or lewd comments can help retain clean profiles. For parents, here are some tips that may be useful to ensure that your child preserves a positive online reputation:
1. Have open discussions with your child about positive habits online. This enables you to establish what specifically are positive and negative online practices.
2. Keep an eye on your teen’s social media profiles. It is a good idea to “friend” or “follow” your children. (Remember,being connected in their digital lives is important, but stalking them may be invasive).
3. Be a good digital role model for your child.
As a teenager myself, I understand the ubiquitous role that technology plays in our everyday lives. Your presence online leaves a lasting impression, and when used carefully, can reflect yourself in a favorable fashion. Here are some suggestions that could help promote a positive and safe online presence.
1. Think about how you want to represent yourself to people that are not familiar with you. In the perspective of people that browse your social media (such as your future employers), what is posted online is sometimes the only form of representation to identify your values and moral standing.
2. Before posting online, ask yourself if you are okay with parents, teachers, or future employers viewing what you post.
3. Avoid negative or offensive comments and posts.
4. Only friend or message people that you know.
An online presence is not something that you should be afraid of, and an uplifting atmosphere can be created when you are mindful of what you post. College admissions officers sometimes discover an applicant’s talent, achievement, or unique quality that was not mentioned on the application. When handled with care, the Internet can be a source of opportunity and positivity.
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