In today’s connected world, nine out of ten children have a mobile phone, and are able to communicate with others as never before. Facebook, instant messaging, E-mail, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, blogs and forums, with new platforms cropping up as others fall out of fashion. This can lead to problems for the concerned parent, wandering at which point they should intervene without provoking a tantrum.
While this level of communication is for the most part positive, there may be negative consequences in the long run. Recent research showed that more that a third of under-13s use Facebook despite the site’s age limit, and could be using the site without knowing the risks to their personal data.
Mark Hall, managing director of Gotjuice.co.uk – the online reputation management consultancy said: “The playground has changed. Communication has never been so easy, and we can share our information over multiple platforms and reach thousands of people at the touch of a button.
“It’s all too easy to share that embarrassing party photo on Facebook, or write a shocking or perhaps an unintentional negative comment. However, it’s very hard to completely remove this content later. What your children think is a good idea to post online today stands a good chance of causing regret later on in life,” he added.
GotJuice.co.uk suggest that parents read these four basic lessons to help better ensure that their children stay on the correct digital highway.
Lesson 1 – On the web private information is not so private
Explain to your kids that every time they update their Facebook status, upload a photo, or send a tweet, their private information has entered the public domain.
Even if they delete the photo or remove the tweet, it is more than likely that a problem won’t go away: A friend could have re-tweeted or passed on the information, a photo could have been copied onto another site, and that joke they thought might have gained a couple of new followers might rebound on them.
The end result is the same – things tend to stick around for a long time in cyberspace. What your child may think is private between their friends becomes public.
Lesson 2 – Your child’s activity and what they share online becomes their permanent record
Every school pupil has lived in fear of damaging their permanent record where every little thing they ever did – good or bad – was kept in a filing cabinet in the school office.
Now there’s a new kind of permanent record – the information your child shares online, and content that mentions them, which could be used against them later on in life. University admissions, employers, even potential dates will be able to view this information and form an opinion of your child without their knowledge.
Your child needs to know what to keep private, not only about themselves, but those around them, too.
Lesson 3 – Play nice, children
It has never been easier to communicate. For the most part, the advantages are clear to see, but the information explosion has also seen a dramatic rise in cyber-bullying.
Insults posted on social media sites can be just as hurtful and damaging as saying and doing something in real life. Social media insults can be worse, as the damage follows both the victim and the culprit around.
It will always be in their pocket on a smart phone, and because everybody is more connected, there can be no avoiding it. Understanding how their actions online affect others should play an important part in your children’s social media education.
Lesson 4 – Your child’s brand
It is simple to start monitoring your child’s name and mentions online. There are many free tools such as Google Alerts, Social Mention or even simple searches on Twitter which will both alert you and give you access to anything that is published about your child.
When it comes to your child’s online reputation, taking proactive steps should never be considered a bad idea. Educating your child early on about positive steps to take will put them ahead of the curve against many adults who still operate under the assumption that their reputation online isn’t important.
Most importantly, don’t be devious about what you are doing. Let your child know you are watching their back online, but make it clear you have no interest in invading their privacy. The concerned parent should pay just as much attention to their children’s online life as they do to their welfare in the real world. And no, there need not be tantrums.
School’s out! You can find more free helpful information on how to manage your personal reputation, or that of your business at gotjuice.co.uk/blog
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Shabana Adam @Shabana_FAM
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