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Digital Goals for the Summer

Sue is an author and Parent Advocate. She is also the founder of Parents' Universal Resource Experts, Inc.

Everyone has heard of the summer-slump. It’s natural for our kids to want to take a break from learning, especially if it has anything that has to do with school. After all, it’s probably one of the commonalities that different generations can relate to – looking forward to summer break.

But unlike earlier generations who didn't have the Internet to contend with, we have our digital footprints and online reputations to worry about. Today our kids, especially those applying to colleges, know (or at least we hope they do) that their every keystroke and social media post will potentially be put through the Internet wash-cycle, and how whatever spins out can affect their future.

Your digital life never gets a summer break – or any break, for that matter.

Since summertime usually means more screen time, it's wise to encourage our kids, especially teens, to set summer digital goals to help maintain their digital footprint and virtual image.

Tips to polish your cyber-reputation:

1. Your cyber-friends can reflect who you are online.

  • Take time to go through your social networking sites and delete names you don't know. 
  • If you have a close friend that uses profanity or other rude language on your social media pages, ask them nicely to stop – it is your online reputation at risk. The same goes for any photos that others may post on your page. (I encourage everyone to set their privacy settings to pre-approve any photos before they are published).
  • For Twitter, you can visit justunfollow.com to find inactive followers. Keep in mind, it's not about quantity, it's about the quality of friends you have.

2. Privacy is priceless.

  • We have been told a hundred times to check our privacy settings, but do you really understand what that means? This summer make it a goal to fully understand all your privacy settings. Be sure all your social media sites are secured. Remember that your photos set to family privacy are for 'family only' and the ones for 'private friends' are only for those who you select. 
  • Pictures are priceless too. Once they are posted, they may be public and permanent, but they can also be 'lifted' and manipulated by others (which is why we go back to tip #1 about cleaning up your list of friends and deleting those who you don’t know). Make sure your photos are protected with the appropriate level of privacy settings, and only share your photos with your close friends and family. Your online reputation is worth it.

3)  Create your blog or improve it.

  • Get started today on your blog if you haven't already! It's free and it's a great way to express yourself and for college recruiters to review your passion and your goals. Keep it professional, use proper grammar and spelling, and never use profanity or nudity. Wordpress and Blogger are the two popular free blog sites. 
  • Have you started one already? Be sure you are adding to your blog regularly. Chances are you are online anyway, so take the time to add a post. Maybe a movie or book review or even a restaurant review. Are you taking a vacation this summer? Maybe attending summer camp? Share your experiences and add some photos! 

These are a few tips to get you started over the summer. A clean online reputation could set you apart from another college applicant for a college of your first choice.

You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Statistics show more colleges and employers are using the Internet to search names of applicants. Over 70% said that those with negative content were not hired or they accepted another applicant over the one found with negative content.

Encourage your kids and teens to start their digital summer goals today. Their digital footprint can have a big impact on their future!

Cover image courtesy of Flickr.

Sue Scheff is an author and Parent Advocate. She founded Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc in 2001. Her expertise is educating parents that are struggling with their out-of-control teenager and Internet safety for both kids and adults. In her book, Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen, (Health Communications, Inc), Sue Scheff journals her own difficulties with her teen, as well as offers prescriptive advice for parents at their wit’s end.


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