Have you ever done a Google search on your teen? You might be surprised what you find. A positive online image and a productive digital footprint has become a significant screening component for many colleges and potential employers for teens and college students.
Proactive tips families can take to make sure their child is exuding a positive image online include:
- Audit your child online weekly and/or monthly. Google-search their name to see what kinds of content (words, images and news) shows up. Los Angeles-based social media expert and speaker Josh Ochs’ website Safe Smart Social offers parents a specific tool called Footprint Friday to help conduct consistent searches on basic and advanced levels.
- Talk to kids with the Google search in front of you. Discuss which results might look appealing for school applications, what appears to be questionable, and then talk with your child about how the images/texts that come up in the Google search might help or hurt your child’s chances when it comes to applying to schools and/or jobs.
- Use YouTube to control your teen’s image. Ochs recommends taking advantage of Google-owned YouTube to cultivate a positive teen image online. If consistently posted by teens ages 14-17 (with parental approval and supervision), positive videos on YouTube that showcase your child’s most positive traits and skills will eventually push out negative or unflattering posts that others may have posted about your child without him/her knowing it. Thanks to YouTube ownership, Google favors YouTube content. Step-by-step details for how to create and post this kind of positive content safely and effectively can be found at Safe Smart Social HERE.
Ochs is author of the book “Light, Bright and Polite,” which teaches tweens and teens how to impress colleges and future employers, and frequently speaks about safe and smart social media use at schools, organizations and groups across the country.
Jill Simonian is a Parenting Lifestyle Contributor, appearing on CBS Los Angeles every Wednesday on News at 5pm and Friday mornings at 6:45am. Her personal blog is TheFabMom.com. Follow Jill on Twitter @jillsimonian and connect with her on Facebook.