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Digital Reputation


All internet users will have a digital or online reputation; this is how others view them online. This is based on the traces left by a user’s activity online—their ‘digital footprint’. For their privacy and safety, it’s important for children and young people to be aware of where their personal information is available on the internet, who can access it, what others are doing with their information, and the impression they are leaving for others to find.

The following general tips will help parents protect their child’s digital reputation.

Young children

  1. For young children, the concept of a digital reputation is probably too complex for them to grasp.
  2. General internet safety tips are a good start in helping children to develop appropriate online etiquette and to learn appropriate ways of responding online. These are described throughout the Cyber C3 web site.
  3. As a starting point, it can be useful to help young children understand that they should behave the same way online as they do offline. Help them to understand that other people can see what they are doing online. So they should take care with what they say and do.

Older children

  1. At this age children’s internet use should still be closely monitored. To help with this try to keep the computer in a shared or visible place in the home.
  2. Explain to your child that the internet is a public place and that the information they share may be online for a long time, so it’s important to think carefully about what they post.
  3. Help your child to develop the skills they need to interact safely and respectfully online. Sit with them and guide their use online and help them learn to communicate appropriately with friends and family.
  4. Check whether websites your child uses allow them to post information and images. Many social networking websites enable children to post personal information, comments and images which may have an impact on the way others view them. Monitor their use of these websites and be aware of the age guidelines, privacy policies and terms of use.
  5. If your child is engaged in social networking help children understand and use privacy settings to limit who can see their information.

Teenagers

  1. Talk to your teen about managing personal information on social networking sites.
  2. Encourage them not to put any personal information on their profiles. This includes their phone number, personal email address, home or school addresses, or the name of their school.
  3. Encourage your teen to be careful when they post photos and to consider how what they post might be viewed by others.
  4. Talk to your teen about the potential social, academic, employment and legal implications of posting inappropriate material of themselves or others online. Encourage them to think about who might see the content and what the impact might be now and in the future.
  5. Remind your teen that much of what they do online can be made public, and may go beyond the group of friends they intend it to reach. A good general guide is for teens not to post photos that they would not want strangers to see.
  6. Help your teen understand that information they provide online or via SMS can be shared more broadly than they might think. Even if their profile is set to private, they can’t control what their friends will do with the information hey post. Encourage them to think carefully before sharing images or controversial messages online or via mobile.
  7. Remind your teen to take care with others’ digital reputations. They should not post images of others without their permission and should take care with comments about others.
  8. Ensure teens understand the features and terms of use of social networking sites in particular how to set their profile to private.

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