Whether we like it or not, we are living in the digital age. Much of life can be done behind a screen. You can literally look up/find anything and everything you want within a few clicks. And that’s not entirely a bad thing, but this type of access can become addictive and unsafe pretty quick. But the truth is, the internet is not going away anytime soon. It’s only going to become more and more a way of life in our culture. And because this is true, we definitely need to take measures to be safe, but we should also take steps to be smart! The truth is, our kid’s future hope and dreams can be affected by what they do and don’t do online. In other words, their digital profile matters. Let me explain:
Is Your Child’s College Future at Risk?
Future college administrators and employers are looking at who you are online. They will look you up on social media networks, google your name, or try and find out things about you on any other website/platform they deem necessary. So in other words, your kid’s higher education and career are affected by their digital profile.
“A 2013 Kaplan Test Prep surveyed nearly 400 college admissions officers and found that 30% said they found something online that negatively impacted the applicant’s chances of getting admitted.” Source: MacAfee
College applications and scholarships are at risk when kids make poor choices on what they post on social media. On the other hand, if they use their social media platform to promote themselves, then that can be a positive thing for their future! Whether right or wrong, colleges and employers are looking up their potential applicants online to see who they are.
Let’s Talk about Your Kids Digital Profile
So let’s talk about your kid’s digital profile in regards to their future hopes and dreams towards a career. Let’s pretend your kid wants to be a heart surgeon when they grow up. They’ll need to start gearing their life towards becoming one. So generally speaking, to get hired as a heart surgeon, they’ll have to work hard to receive appropriate credentials, gain some hands-on experience, and form a good resume that stands out among the rest. A heart surgeon is what your kid wants to become, and this is what a future employee is looking for. So how does this apply to your kid and social media?
Conversation is Important
Having a healthy dialogue about what your kid wants to do or be when he/she grows up can help shape how their social media platforms. After they come up with a few options (or even one) of what they might want to be, start exploring online to see what that job all entails. Also, do the research (or talk to people within that particular field of work) on what you need to do to eventually land that dream job one day. Then after that, work backward …what can I be doing today to start building my resume towards becoming a _____? And because future employers GENUINELY look you up online, it’s smart and wise to start building a good, outstanding, intentional digital profile. You have to choose to be intentional towards building the image/story you want others to see when they look you up. Don’t make them guess; help them to get a good picture of who you are and why you are the best candidate for that job opportunity.
What are some action steps your kid can take now?
- Consider starting a LinkedIn profile. The minimum age to start one is 12+, so why not start early and build their online resume. Regularly update it whenever they gain experience, education, and serve in different ways around their community.
- Be proactive and purposeful: Post things that you want your future employer/college administrator to see. Look for opportunities to do good (serve and support your community, mission trips), be creative and show off your skills (writing, photography, videography social skills), use extracurricular activities for your advantage (always have the posture of learning and gaining a new skill), intern/job shadow somewhere related to your hopes and dreams, find what you’re good at and learn how to serve people with it.
- Research local job postings and what they’re looking for in a potential employee. This’ll help you know what employers are looking for, so you can start building your digital profile to accommodate.
- Google themselves: have them google their name and see what comes up (type in first and last name, “first and last,” first and last and the town they live in, etc.) Sometimes an image of yourself will pop up because someone tagged you in a photo that you didn’t know about. Also, many times another person with your name will pop up, and that’s not great either, because you want people not to have to guess if that’s you or not (so be intentional about posting things that’ll get you noticed in a positive, easy way.)
- Do a digital spring clean: clean up your past posts, pics, comments, etc…make sure they are positive to whoever sees them.
So what’s your kid’s future hopes and dreams? If they don’t know, that’s ok! But you can at least start the conversation and encourage them to take seriously what they do and don’t do (post and don’t post) online. Overall, strive to teach them the future consequences of negative/hurtful posting, as well as how they can leverage their online profile to positively standout among the rest! In other words, teach them how to be socially SMART!