We’ve all heard the stories about college recruiters who have dismissed applicants due to unsavory (i.e. drunk, nude) pictures found on Facebook.
By the time your teen is sending in their applications or pounding the pavement for a job, they may have created numerous profiles on sites from Facebook to Twitter, Instagram to Tumblr. You might be worried about what they are sharing, who they are interacting with, and the activities they are involved in online. Any comment, status update, photo or “like” contributes to their online reputation.
And it’s not just teenagers who are over-sharing (just read these 13 examples of adults fired over a Facebook post). Adults need to manage their online presence as well – whether we are looking for a new job or just trying to set a good example.
Monitor your teen’s social media
Even if you are Facebook friends and Instagram followers, you are probably not seeing all of your teens’ activity. One option that can help is a social media monitoring service.
One such service is called uKnowKids, which I first reviewed about a year ago. They have recently added Instagram monitoring – a welcome addition. You can also monitor Facebook and Twitter, and run a “social search” to see if there are other social network accounts they’ve created without your knowledge.
I gave Instagram monitoring a try since my daughter has an Instagram account. After connecting the service to her Instagram (note – you will need their username and password) I was able to see the pictures that her friends had posted. While I do follow her on Instagram, most of her friends have private accounts (one of my recommendations) so I would not normally see those pictures. On the uKnowKids dashboard, you can scan through thumbnail size images for a quick review. If you see any that look worrisome, you can start a discussion with your child. (More about UKnowKids and Instagram).
Another helpful feature is Notifications. You can check whether you’d like to be notified of any potentially troubling situations, like interaction with adults you don’t know, or talk of drugs, sex, depression and bullying.
If your kids use an Android or Blackberry smartphone, you can also monitor texts and locations. There will be iPhone monitoring available later this year, although it is not clear if that will include iMessage.
If you’d like to give this a try, uKnowKids has provided a special sign-up link for Be Web Smart readers. Just use the following link and then sign-up. Instead of the one-month free trial they offer, you will get two months for free.
http://uknow.co/PlyCdn – this will give you two months of the “Premier” service which includes social media monitoring including Instagram. After two months if you can switch to the Essential (free) service which offers fewer features.
Monitor your Own Social Media Reputation
Reppler is another service available for anyone wishing to get a handle on their social media reputation. Reppler is a free service that helps you manage your online reputation. It will scour your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, and Picasa accounts and give you an idea about how others might perceive you. The service then offers suggestions on what you can do to improve your “score”.
Reppler is easy to set up through your Facebook account. Once established, Reppler will notify you of any potential issues or risks – such as privacy and security risks and inappropriate content such as drugs, adult content, and vulgar language. You can even set up e-mail notifications. I did this for testing and when I mentioned “meth” in a status update (talking about one of my favorite TV shows, Breaking Bad of course!) I received a Reppler alert by e-mail.
The e-mail alerts can be a useful tool for parents. You can set up Reppler with your teen and have the e-mail alerts sent to YOUR e-mail address. Then you will be the one notified of any potential inappropriate content. Your teen can log onto Reppler too and get helpful hints for better privacy control and suggestions for making a better impression online.
Learn more about Reppler and how it works. This video from the Career Services department at University of Colorado is a great tutorial and gives you an idea of how it works.
Now you have two more tools in your arsenal for managing your digital footprint and social media reputation. UKnowKids and Reppler are just two available tools. While I have not used it, another similar service is TrueCare for social media monitoring. And as always, these are just tools to assist your efforts in parenting in the digital age; frequent, open and honest discussions with your children are always the most the important tool.