Your child’s digital footprint can have repercussions in all areas of his or her life, potentially resulting in missed job opportunities, rejected college applications, and public sharing of personal information. Recently, Harvard revoked the acceptance letters of 10 students after discovering they had posted offensive memes to a Facebook group chat.
“One of the things the Harvard example highlights is a lot of kids do things online that can come back to bite them,” said Patrick Ambron in an article for Mashable. Ambron is the CEO at BrandYourself, an online reputation management firm that works with students. “It’s important to realize that it happens on a much regular level.”
While these stories are concerning, remind your teen that their digital footprint is 100 percent within their control. Making smart choices when online—such as turning on privacy settings, not disclosing personal information, and thinking before posting—can lead to a positive digital footprint down the line that can help them succeed in college and in their career.
According to the Family Online Safety Institute, the following are things that can be impacted by your child’s digital footprint:
College admissions and the military – College admissions officers can (and do) read your teen’s online profile. If your son or daughter is applying to college and vying for a spot 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 applies to moral aptitude requirements in the military if your child is planning on enlisting.
Scholarships – Scholarships often ask applicants to share their social media profiles as part of the online application process. Any immature posts, cyberbullying or generally distasteful material found on your child’s profile could prohibit them from earning a scholarship.
Employers and internships – Employers will Google your kids, even if it’s just for a job they are applying for to make some extra money while attending college. Additionally, college internships are now becoming a prerequisite for gaining employment post-college. Internships are competitive enough, and the difference between your son or daughter and another applicant could be their negative digital footprint.
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