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What Trail is Your Child Leaving Online?

Digital footprint or thumbprint

Did you know that every time you go online, you leave a trail—a record of what you casually browse on the web, what you post on social media, or what you discuss in a group forum? And unlike a trail of footprints you may leave on a sandy beach, this trail will never be erased.

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.


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