Protect Your Child’s Digital Reputation This Valentine’s Day

Talk to your teens about minding their digital reputation.

Valentine’s Day invariably brings creative expressions of love on Social Networking Sites (SNS).  Before your child posts a video of himself singing a love song for that special someone, talk with them about maintaining their digital reputation this Valentine’s Day:

  1. Remind your kids that that what they post online, stays online: Many people, especially teenagers, post before thinking through how the material may impact their reputation.  According to a 2012 Hard Research Associates Study (on behalf of the Family Online Safety Institute), 43% of teens reported that they posted something online that they later regretted. Even if you delete content, it’s possible that someone else had copied and shared it, causing a distribution outside of your control. 
  2. Consider who else is viewing your SNS profile: Increasingly, many job recruiters and colleges are consulting SNS to learn more about a potential candidate.  Depending on your privacy settings, your information may be more visible than you think.  If you are concerned, adjust your SNS privacy settings.
  3. Think about what you “Like”:  This information is broadcast throughout your SNS site, and increasingly, is being used to tailor advertisements both within and outside of SNS.  
  4. Protect your password:  Sounds obvious, but sharing passwords happens more than you may think.  According to a 2011 Pew Internet and American Life Project telephone survey 30% of teenagers who were regularly online had shared a password with a friend.   Frequently teens attribute their reasoning to a sign of affection and transparency, but it can lead to very dangerous consequences, including identity theft and harm to your digital reputation.  Go ahead and change your password now, I’ll wait!
  5. Talk about the digital world:  Your children are growing up in a social media world, and have fewer reservations about what to share. In addition, many teens do not have a mature sense of consequences, so it’s important that you speak to them frequently about the impact of what they share online.
  6. Establish rules: Set concrete rules about what is appropriate to post. Maybe you’re not comfortable with them posting pictures or locations – establish ground rules around this. 
  7. Manage their time:  Keep an eye on the amount of time your child is spending on Social Networking Sites and remember that they can be connected to these sites via their mobile device when they are not with you.  For more information check out this video from Common Sense Media.


Many adults tend to over-share online too and would do well to remember these rules. Technology can do a lot for us, but we need to remember that our security rests on how we use it.   For me this Valentine’s Day, I’ll simply tell my wife (in person) how much I love her, and of course, remember to bring home some Tulips!

Gloucester County resident Jim Janco is Director of Security and Privacy for Comcast and a father of four children.  Read more tips about online safety at xfinity.com/constantguard

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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