My youngest daughter’s online school, Laurel Springs, recently had Josh Ochs present as a guest speaker. He was fantastic! He spoke to parents about social media safety and to students about building a positive online image. I highly recommend you check out his website, Safe, Smart & Social, where he posts a plethora of valuable information, and you can go to Go.SafeSmartSocial.com to sign up for his newsletter. Better yet, get him to speak to your own school!
He doesn’t deny that social media is a fact of life these days, but he gives very informed and practical guidance about:
- appropriate ages for students to begin using social media
- good apps to use and bad apps to avoid
- ways to build a positive online resume
Whether or not you have school-age kids, the last point is applicable for both adults and teens. As a former college Dean of Enrollment Management, I can not stress to you enough how important it is that you have a positive online image. Yes, college admission counselors will Google their top applicants. Almost no organization will give out scholarships to students unless their online images are positive, and employers also perform internet searches on their applicants to aid in their decision-making process.
One point Mr. Ochs stressed was to audit your child’s online image. Even if your sons or daughters aren’t on social media yet themselves, it’s likely that your own posts or references from outside sources are inadvertently creating a digital footprint for them. When I Googled my 10-year-old daughter’s name, a news article with her picture came up from several years ago when she was in the local newspaper in another state. For my 13-year-old daughter, one of my own nonfiction books came up because it had since become available on Kindle (which makes every word in the book searchable), and she was cited in a community picture at the age of two. While I’ve been careful to keep from mentioning my kids by name on this blog, I had forgotten about other sources where their names had been mentioned. Fortunately, in these cases, they were positive references, but it just goes to show that people can have digital footprints and online images at the age of two or younger, whether it was intended or not.