Teens, Online Reputation and Social Media

All BHS students, faculty, staff and administration are encouraged to participate in the Digital Citizenship Twitter chat every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. EST. Chats are moderated by a team of educators who are dedicated to digital citizenship education. Join us as we discuss ways to integrate current technologies, including social media, into the classroom to create a more relevant and engaging learning experience for all 21st century learners.

Sue Scheff-nationally recognized cyber safety advocate 

nationally recognized author & cyber advocate Sue Scheff

Editor’s Note: 

I am pleased to feature nationally recognized author, parent advocate and family Internet safety advocate Sue Scheff as the first Help Desk guest blogger of 2014. Sue has been featured on ABC News, 20/20, The Rachel Ray Show, Dr. Phil, CBS Nightly News with Katie Couric, Lifetime, Fox News, CNN Headline News and more. Her work has also been featured by the Huffington Post, Forbes, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. A complete list of Sue’s articles can be found here. Sue’s guest post emphasizes the importance of integrating digital citizenship education in our schools and comes at the perfect time. Starting tonight, and occurring every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month from 7:00 to 8:00 pm EST, Digital Citizenship Twitter chats are back! I am thrilled to be a #digcit Twitter chat moderator and to be joining a team of passionate educators. I am especially excited to have Sue joining tonight’s chat and discussing this important topic with educators, administrators, parents, and best of all…STUDENTS! I hope you will be able to join tonight’s conversation as we discuss the role of social media in schools and how our students can build a positive digital presence. 

Guest post: Sue Scheff

Teens, Online Reputation and Social Media

We are becoming a broken record as we try to explain to our kids what they post online can potentially affect their future. There is no rewind online, it is that simple. The Internet is a wonderful educational tool but can also work against us if not properly used. A reference that can be used is, the Internet is like a gun, you have to learn to use it responsibly. That statement is meant to be strong — the moment you become a digital citizen, you need to behave with the same respect you treat others offline. The dangers of technology, especially for kids and teens, have been in the media for the years.

Whether it is cyberbullying or Internet predators, our country is not a stranger to horrific incidents that can happen to our youth. For teens looking forward to a higher education and especially those in need of scholarships to help them finance college, they need to think before they post especially on their social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This means being cyber-savvy in social media.

Recently, the New York Times ran a story that probably woke-up many teens about how social media can affect their future college prospects. “They Loved Your GPA, Then They Saw Your Tweets,” describes how your keystrokes matter. Do you know what your digital footprint is saying about you? Social media today is part of life. Learning how to maintain your life both online and off is part of preparing for your future. You are the one that is in control or your keystrokes and what you decide to post or comment on, however you have to also be in control of who is posting and commenting on your social media pages. Learn to control your privacy settings and keep them updated frequently.

Building your online presence starts the moment you are given your first keypad and email address. You are now entering the world wide web – proceed with caution, it is a wonderful place, and can be your best friend and your worst nightmare at the same time. Before you enter into cyberspace, chances are good your parents have given you a foundation of treating people with respect and having manners. This behavior should be the same online –treat others how you want to be treated, whether it is online or off. Whether you are posting a picture or making a comment, pause and think about the long lasting effects. Is it something you are comfortable with your grandparents viewing? Building your online reputation starts early. Maintaining it through social media is what will separate you from the other college applicants.

Where will you begin?

Obviously many teens are already members of the social media world and members of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Now it is all about managing it appropriately to build your virtual image. Your digital real estate should begin with free blogs! WordPress and Blogger offer user friendly blogs with many different templates, colors, layouts and designs. You can create your own personality with these blog sites. Best of all, you can start showcasing your attributes!

What will you blog about?

• Hobbies and interests: Do you have a favorite app or game? Do you love dance or sports? You can tell your readers your  favorite teams.
• Movie and book reviews: Have you seen any good movies? Read any good books? Post a picture of the book cover or a trailer of the movie.
• Community Service work, post pictures of your contributions.
• Visit a local restaurant? Would you recommend anything from the menu?
• Vacations, travels: talk about places you have visited.
• Summer Camps: Did you attend a summer camp or participate in a teen travel event? Share your experiences. What would you recommend and why?
• Won any awards? Share them—be proud.

Final Thoughts for Families: 

Now let’s talk money. Especially in today’s economy many families and students are applying for as many scholarships as they can. Recent reports confirm college admissions representatives are also using students’ social media presence to determine whether they deserve the scholarship, as you read in the NYT’s article above. Facebook is obviously the largest social networking site that many use. Isn’t it time to encourage your teen to sit down and clean it up? Remember, unfortunately all your posts and comments on your friends’ pages are still lingering in cyberspace too. So now is the time to seriously stop and think before you post that silly comment. Is it really worth a scholarship? And remember parents, you may think because your child’s Facebook is set on private you are safe. Don’t be fooled. If it’s online, it’s usually public information – remember your child is friends with friends that may not have their privacy settings set as high.

Remember students–don’t risk losing a scholarship or admission to the college of your choice for a dumb remark online or a compromising photo! Start today building your digital real estate. Own, create it and make it your something that will impress your future employer or college admissions. Pause before your post, you won’t regret it. Keystrokes matter.

Watch this video – it is worth the 5 minutes:

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