Internet safety: How to manage your child’s online reputation
Nine out of 10 children now own a mobile phone and have access to all sorts of social media. Discover what you can do to protect their personal data
With nine out of 10 children owning a mobile phone and having access to platforms such as Facebook, instant messaging, e-mail, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, blogs and forums, concerned parents may wonder at which point they should intervene.
While this form of communication is for the most part positive, there may be negative consequences in the long run, according to online reputation experts.
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 - commented: "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 is 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."
GotJuice.co.uk recommends parents pass on four basic lessons to help better ensure their children stay on the correct digital highway.
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 it won’t disappear. 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.
2 Your child's activity and what they share online becomes their permanent record
The information your child shares online, and content that mentions them, 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.
3 Play nicely, children
It has never been easier to communicate and there are many advantages to this, 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. In fact they 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 your child’s actions online affect others should play an important part in their social media education.
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.
Educating your child early on about positive steps to take will put them ahead of many adults who still assume that their reputation online isn't important.
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.
To find more free information on how to manage your personal or business reputation go to www.gotjuice.co.uk/blog
Get more inspiring reading
Our print magazine for INSPIRE is currently on hold while we explore new funding options for a relaunch later this year. If you'd like to be kept up to date with developments, ready to order the new title once it's available, email firstname.lastname@example.org