Monday, April 14, 2008

Maybe They Shouldn't Post This Stuff In The First Place

Some 71% of 2,000 14 to 21-year-olds said they would not want colleges or employers to do a web search on them before they had removed some material.

It’s a British poll, but I’m certain the results hold for the US too.

The obvious question that pops in my head is, why the hell did they upload the stuff in the first place? Teenagers seem to be genetically predisposed to do stupid things without thinking through the potential consequences. Luckily for those of us that are parents of teens today, cell phone cameras didn’t exist back when we were teenagers. However, this is a real issue that kids today need to deal with in a proactive manner. The internet is the ultimate realization of the permanent record that Dean Wormer talked about in Animal House.

I think this sort of thing is a far more realistic danger to kids than cyber stalking or any of the scary stories that get over hyped on the evening news. Any parent of a teen should be googling their kid to see what they are releasing to the world. This goes double for any boy picking up your daughter for a date. It might be fun to that search in person with him while your daughter is making final adjustments to her hair. ;) If I were hiring in that demographic I would certainly google every interviewee prior to meeting with them.

As parents, what can we do? I think saying, “No, you can’t have a Facebook account” is the wrong approach. First of all, you can’t really stop them from setting up an account. So as parents I think we are much better off helping our kids learn how to interact online responsibly. It’s not rocket science. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see pretty much much covers it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting parents enact a sophisticated spying program on their kids. Kids are entitled to privacy too. The point you need to get through to them is that there is no such thing as privacy online. If they post it online, odds are good it will eventually become publicly accessible.

written by COD for