It’s not a surprise for an employer to “Google” a prospective employee. At my Career Center at my undergrad college, one comment they made super clear was you need to be careful what you put on the internet. Once you submit something on the internet, it can’t be deleted.
But we don’t need to start teaching this golden rule during college. We need to start as soon as they are using computers.
Along the same lines, bullying in middle school/ high school is not new. But in the 21st century, it has been taken to a whole new level: bullying on the internet. Far too often we read news reports about teens committing suicide because of bulking (online or not)
One picture texted to one person can be sent to the entire school within hours. And it is incredibly sad we aren’t teaching our kids NOT to take that one picture. (Not to mention, depending on the age this can be considered kid porn).
Regardless of the age you first submitted something to the internet, it will last forever. And it’ll come up during a thorough search from employers.
We need to be louder in defining what is appropriate for social media and what is not.
Francesco Loli’s brilliant blog post points out these techniques to NOT kill your future job opportunities:
- Appropriate Posts
- Grammar Issues
- Appropriate Content
Information on the internet (regardless of platform) is an extension of you. People are very multifaceted beings. We act one way when we are with our families and another when we are with friends. By digging around your social media outlets, you show employers different facets of your person. This is not a plea to act perfect,- by no means, employers understand humans are imperfect-but it is a realization that if one of the many facets to your personality is to get utterly wasted and spread derogatory comments about your current work place, they might think you’ll do the same about a future work place.
Arguably, teenager’s usage on Facebook is declining (source).
Why? Because they are checking out other social media websites.
Although Facebook has had a tough time with privacy settings, I would argue that their privacy settings are much more advanced than any other social media website available right now. To leave a network that has the ability to be so specific with privacy settings to a network that isn’t as strong, may point towards leaking more personal information that could be held against you later.
If you read my post about “Why Most Twenty Somethings are Delusional,” you know how I feel about my generation. But I would also like to stress that teenagers doing dumb things is just not knew, this generation of teens is simply able to better document their stupidity.
When you are young, you think you are invincible. But when we make poor decisions while utilizing social media, we need to emphasize how much it can affect our profession futures.
But let’s be honest: we are not going to diminish teens from breaking rules. I have a strong belief that if you have it set in your mind to do something, you’re going to make that happen. If your underage and you have every intention of finding beer and drinking it, you’ll find it and make that happen. But posting a picture of you intoxicated, in a precarious sexual position, doing something incredible stupid, -or whatever else- doesn’t need to be photographed and held against you 20 years later.
We can’t stop the inevitable.They are going to do dumb things. We all do dumb things.
But we can better prepare teens and preteens to make the right decisions when faced with the hard questions.
- We need to strongly promote more effective use of privacy settings on social media websites. I would argue adding this class in high school/middle school as necessary.
- We need to teach kids about those (Audrie Pott–Rehtaeh Parsons–Jessica Laney– Nigel Hardy–Megan Meier) teens who died because of bullying. We need to teach the hard lessons of what can happen if you don’t protect yourself on social media and how to better handle tough decisions like being offered beer/drugs at a young age.
- Furthermore, I think repeating these horror stories would be the only way to get their attention.
There are simply too many sad stories to think “that won’t happen to my kid”.
Believe me, temptation is everywhere and comes in all forms.