YOU are your brand. Your digital persona.

Selfie

Protect your digital persona- think of YOU as your favorite brand.

For the parents of teenagers out there, I think it’s worth pointing out a few key statistics your tweens and teens should know before they post that comment or photo they might regret…

  1. Last year (2013), according to a survey on Education.com that included 381 college admissions counselors from colleges across the country, 30% of the time, there was something in the applicants’ social media profile(s) that negatively affected his/her chance of getting accepted.
  2. Another 2013 study by On Device Research said that 1 in 10 people between ages 16 and 34 have been turned down by a job because of photos or comments on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites.

When I was 12 or 14, my favorite brand was Jordache- yes, there are a few of you who will remember Jordache jeans fondly:). And then maybe Z. Cavaricci in college. But, who would know that? Because any pictures to prove it are either in one of my mother’s photo albums or in an undeveloped camera roll from 1986. As I’ve discussed in prior posts, everything is public now that we capture so many moments online. And, when it’s public, it’s there to stay for everyone in your social network…and for anyone to see who might Google you.

So…combining my experience as a parent of a tween and a teenager with my brand development and marketing background, I’ve compiled a few (hopefully useful) nuggets for you to pass along to your teens. If they won’t listen to you- because the older they get, the dumber you get- the statistics above don’t lie.

  1. Our identity is now defined by what we do and how we interact online. Remember- STOP. See my previous blog post for what STOP means and how to use it.
  2. Make sure EVERY profile you have reflects how you want the world to view you. Ahem. That would include coaches, scouts, college recruiters, prospective employers, your grandmother, you get what I mean.
  3. Project the positive. Ask yourself before posting a comment or photo…is there something good that will come from this?  Will it build someone up?  Will I regret it tomorrow?  Or a year from now?  Or ten?
  4. Pass codes. Pass codes. Pass codes. Did I mention pass codes? It’s up to you to keep your friends from accessing your phone, tablet or pc and using your identity to harass, bully or post inappropriate content. They might think it’s hilarious today- you won’t be laughing tomorrow.
  5. Last but not least- parents. Let’s talk about privacy settings. When is the last time you checked your child’s social networking profiles to insure the most stringent privacy settings allowed by the site are enabled? Want to know what can happen? Tune in for my next post. Teach your kids to protect their privacy like the dog protects his bone. And, while you’re at it, you should check to make sure their location settings on their devices are disabled.

At parents, we are responsible for raising our children the best we can.  These same little darlings truly believe they know more than us from about age 12 through the teen years. This is not new to our era. What is new (besides learning how to keep up with our kids electronically- lol:) is convincing them that we understand the long term impact of their use of the technology they think we know nothing about.  Funny that Mark Twain, who died in 1910 (when I’m pretty sure they didn’t have iPhones) said it best:

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.”

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