Friday, 15 February 2013

What you say about social media is NOT what your kids hear

Let me start out by saying that is not yet another post about the dangers of social media profiles, and the world of paedophiles lurking out there waiting to scoop up the names, locations and pictures. That message has come through loud and clear. Got it.

Nope, this is about trying to get kids (and especially teens) to understand that NOTHING goes away online. That the "Delete" button is really just an archive or a "don't show this here now to me" button.

And that colleges and universities are using that information (including what you THOUGHT you deleted) to decide who get in and who gets scholarships.

And employers, legally or not, are using it to decide who gets hired and who gets the boot. And did I mention that it NEVER, EVER, EVER goes away???

So here's how it goes. I calmly tell my kids and their friends that they shouldn't post anything online they wouldn't want their grandmother, teachers, future boss or someday boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife reading. Or looking at. Or listening to. (Yeah, dangling participles galore...I can just hear my English degree adviser now!)

They look at me with sympathy. Poor mom has drunk the Kool-Aid. Doesn't get the world of Tumblr or Facebook. Never mind that online content marketing is my profession. Doesn't matter.

And so they post. And they upload.  Nothing truly awful. Nothing criminal or mean. Just stuff that to an admissions committee faced with 200 completely qualified students and one more slot could mean they come across as a slacker or uncomnmited or that person who's going to penny in the other students on the dorm floor. So they get the dreaded thin letter and someone else gets the welcome packet.

I know that the screaming-until-your-face-turns-blue or lecturing until your tongue is sprained won't get the message across. But ignoring it isn't an option.

So I'm asking you...what if anything has worked for you?  What message, what tool, what piece of information worked?

In the meantime, here's a message for future employers and college admissions boards everywhere. Kids say and do stupid stuff. By definition. Because they are kids. So could you please do everyone a favor and just look away a bit more? Scale back the peeking in where you're not invited. It's kind of like reading your sister's diary...none of your business and probably mostly made up.

Because behind the weird videos and talk about putting a cow on the high school princpals roof, they're good kids.  And odds are they would be good students and good employees.

Oh, and one more thing.  That prank you never figured out when I was at UF? That was me. The early-admissions, squeeky clean honors student. Just sayin'

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