Does Your Child Have a Bad Online Reputation?

Tori Aiello presented a dose of reality to a large group of parents who came out to learn how to manage their child’s online reputation Credit: R. Zivic.

Ben Franklin once said, “ It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

When you’re young, nieve and logged-on, that one bad deed can be just a snapchat or a tweet away.

On Wednesday night the Junior League presented their first in a series of No Parent Left Behind seminars at the Perrot Library. The theme for the evening was Managing Your Child’s Digital Reputation, presented by Tori Aiello, B.S., M.F.A., Senior Coach and Trainer for The Speech Improvement Company, Inc.

For the parents and guardians in attendance it was cram time. Or, as one mom put it, “the chance to find out how much you don’t know.”

 “You don’t want social media to manage your child. You want your child to manage social media.” – Tori Aiello

There are lots of digital hangouts available to kids. Research shows that most tweens and teens are dividing their time between a large array of apps and sites.

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It’s not just a Facebook world anymore.

Next-generation apps that let users text, video-chat, shop and share pics are attracting teens like catnip. Credit: Rose Zivic

If you want to insure your child is ‘behaving’ appropriately online, you need to become his or her digital partner. The first step in partnering-up is to demystify the whole online experience.

Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Don’t think it will be too time-consuming to learn.

If your child is on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter, then you should be too. You should have access to their accounts. Know what they’re saying, what photos and videos they’re sharing.

Parents can’t expect to hand their child an IPad with access to a world of apps and just assume that he’s going to be able to handle it. He’s not. He needs to learn the rules of the online-road. She needs to know that data lives forever, yes even that snapchat she thinks disappears in 10 seconds…but more on that later

To help your child create an online reputation that won’t come back to bite him in the backside when he’s applying to college or for a job, Ms. Aiello stressed that parents need to engage in baseline discussions with their kids.

Some discussion-starters are:

“How do you want to be considered online?”

“What do you want your online reputation to be?”

“What two words would describe you after you interact online?”

“Do you think what you’ve been doing online represents those two words?”

“Would you be comfortable with your coach, teacher, aunt or uncle seeing what you post online?”

Now about that Snapchat…

“But mom, I can be as crazy as I want, that Snapchat I posted of me doing keg-stands disappeared, in like, 10 seconds!” – Anybody’s Child

Well sure it does, but that doesn’t mean someone can’t take a screen shot of it, save it, then share it with a gazillion of their friends and followers.

Data lives forever. And college admission’s people know how to find it, especially if they’re going to shell out big bucks for a scholarship. Many Ivy’s use retinal recognition software just for that purpose.

Ms. Aiello shared a story of a girl who accepted a scholarship to an Ivy League school. She thought she had ‘out-smarted’ the system by opening a facebook account under an alias. The University discovered it, and the photos of her posing with a Solo Cup, and withdrew her scholarship.

Harsh? Yes, but it does happen.

cyberbullying

Credit: Leslie Yager

And there’s the cyber-bullying aspect of teen online activity with text wars making it easy to target and gang up on one person.

“39% of all tweens report being cyber-bullied online, but only 7% of parents have knowledge of it. Of those being bullied, 59% are girls.” – Tori Aiello

Cyber-Bullying can be as obvious as calling someone ugly, fat, or stupid in an online post. It can take the form of ‘cutting and pasting’ someone’s texts to make them look bad. It can be sharing a photo of a sexual nature, without the person’s knowledge.

If your child circulates a photo with sexual content, he or she may have to serve community-hours, since it is considered spreading pornography.

To report online cyber-bulling log onto http://cyberbullying.us/report/

Social Media has given teens a totally different set of challenges than their parent’s had to deal with. Back in the day, a child would come home from school and leave all the drama behind her. “Today,” Ms Aiello said, “It follows you home.”

On-Line Facts/Tools To Help Parents Manage Their Child’s Online Reputation:

  1. Do not prohibit your child from having online accounts or apps. If you do he will open one up anyway (without your knowledge) Guaranteed!
  2. Keep your child’s settings private. If your child uses her computer at school, make sure to reset the settings.
  3. Ask.fm is a very popular site for middle-schoolers. It allows your child to answer anonymous questions asked of him. Is your child subscribed?
  4. Do your child’s bios on one site offer access to his other sites? If so he may be inviting potential bullying or stalking or unwanted followers.
  5. Explain to your child what a ‘Digital Footprint’ is.
  6. Do NOT allow your child to “block’ you. They are ‘renting’ the computer from you. Take control!
  7. Like a GPS tracker, the app Yik Yak hones in on your child’s location.
  8. When posting photos online take precaution not to ‘advertise’ personal info via t’shirts…Greenwich Softball, etc.
  9. Anything of a sexual nature goes viral in a nanosecond.
  10. Google-search your child. Search under ‘images’. See what pops up?
  11. To manage a reputation online visit: reputationdefender.com
  12. Google will remove images of you online via Google Image Helper. It takes time.
  13. Two years before applying for college is the time to become ‘squeaky clean’. Prepare!
  14. Canceling a facebook account only means your name will not show up as a facebook user. Photos of you will still live on the internet.
  15. Do not allow your child’s friends to use her accounts and post. If she posts something bad…it’s got your kid’s name on it.
  16. Kids create multiple online accounts to get around parent-monitoring.
  17. “Search History” is your friend!
  18. Do not choose ‘facebook’ to log onto other sites. Doing so broadcasts to your facebook friends what you are engaged in online. “Susie just listened to Beyonce online.”
  19. Using a #hashtag compromises your child’s ‘private’ setting, since it connects with thousands of others using the same #hashtag.
  20. Children need to be their own PR Agents online. Help them understand the consequences of their actions. Partner with them to keep them safe … from themselves!

Related Stories:

Bullying in Greenwich Schools: Is it Getting Better?

Internet Safety: Cyberbullying, Spyware, Parental Controls

Come Adversity or Tragedy, Resilient Kids Cope Better


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Email news tips to Greenwich Free Press editor Leslie.Yager@GreenwichFreePress.com
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