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What Is a Harmful Digital Footprint?

by editorial team

 

Everything that a child or teen posts online leaves a trail. This digital footprint can impact their reputation—and personal and professional status—now as well as in the future.

The internet is an extensive database of information on anyone who has ever posted anything, or had someone else mention or reference them online. There are positive and negative digital footprints. Both can influence a person's—including a child's—current and future reputation.

How Are Digital Footprints Made?

While every computer records websites that have been visited, there are other behaviors that are also recorded: 

  • Search history
  • Purchases
  • Downloading content or videos
  • Online forums
  • Sending E-mails

How Can A Negative Digital Footprint Impact A Person?

Search engines are designed to catalog information ranging from social media posts to blog posts. They also include other peoples' posts regarding the individual. A person's online reputation tracks all this.

Many recruiters and professionals consider potential employees' online presence in hiring decisions. This is easy information to find, even if an individual has the right privacy settings on their social media platforms (particularly if the person is tagged in negative posts on other sites, or has posted in a public forum_.

A negative online reputation can also impact college applications, scholarship awards, and even military acceptance.

  • Employment
  • Military
  • Sport Scholarships
  • College Applications

In addition, pictures and information posted online can be stolen through identity theft.

Protecting Your Child’s E-Reputation

Teens sitting in front of their computers at night in the privacy of their bedrooms often feel anonymous and safe. But others can view their online activity easily. Once posted, information is difficult—sometimes impossible—to erase.

Many teens use social media to document their lives without any thought of the future. Ideas once kept private in a diary are now posted online for the world to see, and can lead to future regret. A spontaneous posting in youth can cause trouble years later.

A social media presence feels necessary in today’s world, and a positive one accelerates opportunity and success. However, we should frequently explore with our children how to create a mindful digital footprint.

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