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Today’s teens have grown up connected to the Internet, and they practically live on social media. This makes them experts on how to behave online, right? 

Wrong. While young people might understand how to use the latest apps and online games, they don’t realize that what they do and say on the Internet can negatively impact their online reputation—or why they should care.  

Why teens need a good online reputation 

Today, people make their first impressions online. This means that what the Internet says about you can help you or hurt you, depending on what people find when they search for your name.  

And they are, in fact, searching for you. College admissions officers, insurance companies, even potential dates routinely look up individuals online to judge what kind of person they are. Hiring managers are checking out job candidates on social media too, and over half are finding information online that convinces them not to hire someone. 

Unfortunately, teens don’t have the natural caution that older people, who aren’t digital natives, tend to possess regarding their online interactions. Moreover, their developing brains haven’t matured enough to connect their actions to future repercussions. This results in a lack of inhibition in online behavior, which can lead to serious real-life consequences. For example: 

Merely “liking” a social media post got 20 students suspended from their high school in 2017. 

In 2017, 10 Harvard freshmen had their acceptances rescinded after the university discovered some rude memes the boys shared on a Facebook group chat. 

A profane tweet cost a high school basketball player his state’s Player of the Year award. It was only online for 15 minutes. 

As parents we have to set the stage for guidelines in protecting our children’s digital imprint. It only takes a click to change their life. For more tips on digital safety, grab the Digital Etiquette issue.

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