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Digital footprints & good reputations
Type in someone’s name in a search engine and there is a chance you’ll find out something about that person. That, along with the comments, photos, or videos they or others may have posted about them on a social networking site, are part of their “digital footprint.” It’s the accumulation of what we've left on the Internet from our online activities, including text messages on mobile phones, emails, online chats and even Web surfing. Some people worry that any information posted about a young person online is bad, but positive posts can actually enhance teens’ reputations – as long as they don’t include information that is not safe to share, such as their home address. Web pages, blogs, photos or status updates about their accomplishments in school or sports, for example, could actually improve their image. And, if someone does post something negative about your teen which can’t be erased, it helps to have positive information out on the Net to counter-balance it.
Parents have often heard that posting personal information online is dangerous for children. But according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, simply sharing personal information is not necessarily dangerous. Embarrassing or harassing others or talking about sex in many places online with people they don’t know are what’s risky. Be sure your children aren’t engaging in that kind of behavior. As for personal information, teens just shouldn’t post their address or phone number. General information such as what city they live in is fine.
There is nothing wrong with having a digital footprint – hundreds of millions of people do now – but parents want their children’s digital footprint to be a positive reflection on them. It’s vitally important to be aware that we’re leaving a trail of information and careful about what we say online. It’s also good to be aware of what others are saying about us. The key to having a positive reputation online is being a good digital citizen: behaving civilly and respectfully toward others online and sharing positive information about oneself in blogs, social networking sites and other social media.You can check out the complete guide here.
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