10 ways to pro­tect your child’s on­line rep­u­ta­tion


Llanelli Star - - FAMILY MATTERS -

THE in­ter­net keeps a record of ev­ery­thing shared on­line, from com­ments and pho­tos, to what we buy. This is called our on­line rep­u­ta­tion. While it can be fun to share on­line, it can also be hugely dam­ag­ing for years to come if the wrong thing is posted.

In­ter­net Mat­ters (in­ter­net­mat­ters. org), an or­gan­i­sa­tion that helps par­ents keep their chil­dren safe on­line, warns that it’s vi­tal for chil­dren and young peo­ple to un­der­stand this.

“Par­ents play a huge role when it comes to help­ing chil­dren un­der­stand how to man­age their on­line rep­u­ta­tion and how it may im­pact them in later life,” says Carolyn Bunt­ing, CEO of In­ter­net Mat­ters. “For ex­am­ple, it may be seen by a po­ten­tial em­ployer or their school.

“This is re­ally im­por­tant for their fu­ture as re­search has shown that 35% of em­ploy­ers use so­cial me­dia to screen po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees.”

Carolyn ex­plains that ‘con­tent, con­tact and con­duct’ feed into a child’s on­line rep­u­ta­tion.

“What con­tent are they post­ing? How does it make oth­ers feel? A good gen­eral rule when it comes to con­tent is the T-shirt test – if you wouldn’t wear it on a T-shirt, then don’t post it on­line.

“Who are they in con­tact with? Are they shar­ing pub­licly or are they com­mu­ni­cat­ing with just their friends in pri­vate groups?

“If they’re shar­ing ‘in’ jokes on an open site, do they run the risk that what they’re say­ing may be mis­in­ter­preted?

“Fi­nally, how are they com­mu­ni­cat­ing? Are they con­duct­ing them­selves pos­i­tively and do they help sup­port their friends on­line or do their posts run the risk of be­ing deemed of­fen­sive or po­ten­tial bul­ly­ing?”

Carolyn says par­ents should be aware of the pres­sures sur­round­ing get­ting a mo­bile phone for the first time, and that chil­dren need to be taught to use it safely and re­spon­si­bly.

She says par­ents should have reg­u­lar and hon­est con­ver­sa­tions about what their child is get­ting up to on­line and help them think crit­i­cally about their on­line rep­u­ta­tion and how they may be per­ceived on­line.

She adds: “Stress the im­por­tance of how schools and em­ploy­ers can find any­thing on­line and how a spur of the mo­ment de­ci­sion could im­pact them in later life.”

In­ter­net Mat­ters sug­gests these tips to help chil­dren man­age their on­line rep­u­ta­tion:

1 Teach them the dif­fer­ence be­tween pub­lic and pri­vate in­for­ma­tion on­line

RE­VIEW chil­dren’s pri­vacy set­tings on the plat­forms they use to make sure they stay in con­trol of who has ac­cess to what they share.

It’s im­por­tant to make the point that if it’s on­line there’s the po­ten­tial the world could see it, so think­ing be­fore post­ing is key.


En­cour­age them to be pos­i­tive on­line

AC­TIONS on­line can have real world con­se­quences – share real sto­ries to help them un­der­stand the power of be­ing pos­i­tive on­line and warn them about fake news which can lead us to be­lieve things that aren’t true.

3 Make sure they know how to re­port abuse

SPEND time to­gether get­ting fa­mil­iar with the re­port­ing and block­ing set­tings avail­able on the plat­forms they use to screen out any abuse that breaks a plat­form’s com­mu­nity guide­lines.

4 Em­power them to be them­selves on­line

EN­COUR­AGE chil­dren not to hide be­hind anonymity on­line and be tempted to say or do things they shouldn’t. Use ex­am­ples to high­light the power of be­ing real on­line and de­vel­op­ing their pas­sions to create a pos­i­tive dig­i­tal foot­print. Photo shar­ing sites can put pres­sure on young peo­ple to ap­pear per­fect, caus­ing un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions.

5 En­cour­age them to search their name

MAKE sure chil­dren are aware of the in­for­ma­tion fu­ture em­ploy­ers and teach­ers may see, and agree to re­move any­thing that’s un­pleas­ant or in­cor­rect.

6 Check their on­line rep­u­ta­tion your­self

YOU can re­search your child’s on­line rep­u­ta­tion by search­ing their whole name and other iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion, such as a town or nick­name, us­ing a va­ri­ety of search en­gines and Google im­age search.

If your child is a mem­ber of a so­cial net­work­ing site, con­sider join­ing it your­self and ask to be your child’s on­line con­nec­tion, or get an­other trusted adult to do this.

Shar­ing ‘in’ jokes on an open site is very dif­fer­ent to do­ing so in a pri­vate group chat

Carolyn Bunt­ing

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