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Hey Mom and Dad, What Does the Internet Say About You?

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

Let's face it, kids can be more tech savvy than their parents and it is time we switch that around.

Facebook was originally created for college students. It sat quietly in cyberspace, neatly and comfortably informing students of campus activities, homework, parties, as well as other personal insights to their lives.

Fast-forward today when not only parents and grandparents are on Facebook, potential employers as well as college recruiters are scanning social networking sites including Twitter, LinkedIn and others.

Students may have been pioneers of Facebook, but parents need to be their digital role models today. Never has it been so important to lead by example. What goes online --- stays online, no matter what age you are.

I sat at a professional luncheon recently and was intrigued by a conversation. A business owner who actually hired employees through Facebook said that he meet an employment recruiter who actually suggests that recent college grads deactivate their Facebook and Twitter accounts when they are looking for employment.

This business owner felt this is poor advice, and I agree with him. As he said, in today's digital world, if you aren't online and don't have a digital footprint -- what exactly are you trying to hide? Again, I agree.

With this example, parents need to put their leadership caps on and think about how they can encourage their kids, and especially their teens, to create a positive digital footprint that will build their bright and prosperous future.

  • Think before you post. Yes, it is a cliché, however, it can never be repeated enough. Waiting 24 hours before sending a questionable email or posting debatable comment takes maturity. Letting your kids know that this is even difficult for adults, is a great place to start. Remind them (and yourself occasionally) to take a breath and count to 10 before hitting “enter.”   
  • Picture this....Parents love posting pictures, so why can't the kids upload their pictures? Well, they can, but show them what is acceptable and what isn't -- and why. If they watch you posting pictures of dad having a bit too much fun at a New Year's party, it may give them the green light to post questionable pictures of a party they attend. Talk to them about putting photos into an online scrapbook.
  • Create a Blog! Encourage your teen to create a space where they can express their hobbies and interests. It is free and fun! Why not do this with them? Parents can have a great time blogging too - and it makes for great dinner conversation. Communication is the key to a better relationship with our kids - that is communication via speaking....
  • Avoid Digital Drama! Should I say more. If we expect our children not to cyber bully and be kind online, we as parents need to walk that same line. Always know you are the role model for your kids both in real life and virtually.

These are only a few ideas. I encourage parents and everyone to share more in the comment section below.

Remember parents, you are their role model. Your kids are watching you - one keystroke at a time. 

Bonus thought for day:

If you are texting and driving, don't expect your teen not to text and drive. You may say you are more experienced, however your teenager believes they are invincible. Be the role model - put your cell phone away. Lead by example, it speaks volumes.

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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