Future Proofing Your Kids’ Social Media

As parents, we all have high hopes for our kids. We have the luxury of believing that they can be anything they want to be, provided that they put in the necessary effort.

As technology evolves, the definition of “necessary effort” is morphing into something that we could never have imagined a few short years ago. Part of the process for selecting Hillary Clinton’s Vice President choice is a stark example of such a shift. According to an article at Politico, which we’ll assume, is factual:

the future“How tough was the vetting [of VP candidates]? Finalists had to turn over every password for every social media account for every member of their families.”

That specific thing – someone demanding your social media login credentials – is already illegal in a lot of jurisdictions, and should be. It is very unlikely that your kids will be forced to give up the keys to their Snapchat accounts any time soon unless the police and courts are involved.

That being said, however, this is an example of how something that can be private could come under increased scrutiny. Actually, it looks like that is exactly the direction in which we’re heading.

Our privacy is being eroded. Your kids’ privacy will be a different animal entirely.

Video cameras are everywhere. Facial recognition databases are compiling millions of photos. Emails are being hacked with alarming frequency. More and more information, personal and otherwise, is being posted online. “Friends” can share your private social media posts and open up your secrets for the world to see. What is private today may not always be.

We understand that you’ll probably never be considered for the VP slot and your kids won’t either. Your kids will, however, be considered for something in the future, in a climate where the privacy that you have come to trust may well be a relic of the past.

The solution here – and the only solution – is to teach your kids to never do anything, or put anything online, that could be interpreted harshly by someone else.

That sounds like a tall order. So is being the Vice President.

 

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

 

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

An Adult’s View of One Teen’ Social Media

You might think you know what your teen’s digital footprint looks like to a stranger (you probably don’t but bear with us). By stranger we don’t mean a troll or predator but especially if your kids are younger, that’s a valid concern; we’re talking about someone who will be making a decision about your teen’s future, like a college admissions officer or a future employer. We thought we’d take a look at what a perfectly average teen’s online persona does look like and what that might mean.

thirdparent-social-score
ThirdParent Social Score™

We generated a Social Score report for an American, football playing 16-year old boy last month and after the results were available we had a chance to have a back and forth discussion with one of his parents. The feedback was great. Without going into any more specifics about the teen, we thought we’d use this example to point out a few things that some parents might be missing.

If you’re not familiar with it, our Social Score is a report that evaluates a subject’s public online profile and activity. When a parent signs up, we don’t ask for user names or passwords, or install any software on the teen’s devices. Based on limited information provided by the parents (name, school, town, age, email address) we evaluate the teen’s digital footprint based on age-appropriate safety measures and conduct.

Here’s what we found:

Facebook – Account found; set to private.

Twitter – Account found; set to public. 539 posts (including 9 pictures and 1 video) over 2 ½ years. We flagged two inappropriate posts (one possibly racist, one mildly homophobic). Both were retweets of other accounts – not written by the subject himself.

Instagram – Account found; set to private.

Vine – Account found; set to public. A couple of dozen video loops were posted. All were reposts – no original content. We flagged one video which included extreme adult content of a sexual nature.

Ask.fm – Account found; set to public (all Ask.fm accounts are public). 3 questions answered over a year and a half. Nothing inappropriate found.

Google+ – Account found; set to public. Nothing there. (That is normal – for a couple of years you had to have a Google+ account in order to have a YouTube account)

YouTube – Account found; set to public. No videos posted. Several dozen videos liked; all video game related. 3 channels subscribed to; all teen appropriate content. Nothing inappropriate found.

No other social media accounts or online identities found.

As you can see above, the teen scored an “A” for safety and an “F”, or failed score, for appropriate conduct.

After receiving the Social Score, the parents had the teen delete the inappropriate posts, which is easy to do since the report includes links to or screenshots of problem content or inappropriate interactions. He also set his Vine account to private and changed his Twitter handle to his real name.

A few highlights from our follow up conversations with the parents:

Were the parents aware of his presence on 7 social networks? – They had no idea.

We asked them to ask him why some accounts were private and some were set to public – They did, and he himself had no idea. He doesn’t use Facebook any more and couldn’t remember why it was private. Instagram he does use and didn’t know it was set to private. The others he hadn’t even considered the privacy settings.

We asked them what his reaction was to a stern talking-to – “I think it was a real wake up call for him.”

On why he reposted others’ inappropriate material – It seemed funny at the time.

As we said earlier, this looks like a totally average teen to us – a good kid whose sense of humor tends to be a little racy. There was no cyberbullying and no posts authored by him that were profane or referenced illegal activity. He is also typical in that (a) he doesn’t (until now) give a lot of thought to whether his online activity is public or private, and (b) he hadn’t considered how what he was posting might look to other people.

If a random stranger was trying to evaluate his character based on his Twitter and Vine accounts prior to his parents signing up for a Social Score, we think there’s good chance that the outcome would be less than ideal.

If you’re concerned that your teen’s online activity may be a risk, your can sign up for a Social Score today. You either get the peace of mind knowing that all is okay or an easy roadmap to help fix what needs fixing.

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

What Employers Want To See on Your Social Media

According to a new article at Workopolis, a Canadian online job site, 93% of employers admit to looking up candidates’ social media profiles during the interview process.

Notice that they don’t specify which employees, i.e. not just senior executives. Any employee, including kids right out of high school or college, can expect their public social media profiles and online activities to be scrutinized. The Workopolis article focuses on the positives – what qualities gleaned from social media would make a candidate look like a good hire. The top 3 things according to the article and a related survey:

interviewCultural Fit – 51% of companies want to see whether the “real you” is a good fit with their corporate values and culture.

Qualifications – Are the skills and accomplishments noted in your resume, cover letter and application consistent with how you look online, or are their contradictions? 45% of employers are checking. It is easy to say that you’re a team player, but if your Facebook wall is a long string of arguments, you might be shooting yourself in the foot.

Creativity – 44% of hiring managers are looking for signs of creativity. You don’t have to be an artist online, but learning to creatively use social media could mean that you’ll adapt well to a diverse set of responsibilities in a company environment.

After having hired our share of people, and viewing countless teen and young adult social media profiles, there are a couple more things that come to our minds:

Attention to detail – If the job you’re applying for involves detailed work, or communication with clients or the public, your social media will be a positive reflection on you if your posts are thoughtful, coherent and relatively free of typos and spelling errors.

Discretion – Most companies are looking for employees who put their company’s interest pretty high on their list of concerns. If your social media shows you talking badly about others, or even past employers, you might not look like the good foot soldier that company is looking for.

Philanthropy/generosity – Putting others ahead of yourself can set you apart. All other things being equal, most hiring managers would prefer to hire a “good” person.

According to the Workopolis article, the most common sites searched by employers are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. No doubt that is true for now. Candidates should assume that as employers and HR departments get more social media savvy, those searches will extend to Instagram and Tumblr, and eventually to Reddit, Ask.fm and beyond. If you look like an angel on Facebook, but someone else entirely on Instagram, keep in mind that they are all fair game if they’re public.

We’ve focused here on the positives, but there are many negative things that you shouldn’t post online. The bottom line is that if you’re putting yourself out there publicly, it should be a public image that a company would be proud to embrace in a team member.

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Jobvite Survey – Social Media’s Increasing Role in Job Searches

Recruiting software company Jobvite is out this month with its 7th annual Social Recruiting Survey, which details the current state of how company recruiters are using social media to find and hire applicants.

jobvite-survey-social-mediaThe survey results are directed at employers, but also carry some important messages for those who are in the job market, or will be at some point in the future. Parents – this means your teenage kids, too. Since much of the internet is permanent, what anyone posts today can last longer than their career does.

First, a couple of high level statistics, along with our thoughts:

73% of recruiters plan to increase their investment in and use of social media for recruiting. Just as social media is becoming more ingrained in our everyday lives, it is become a more important part of the hiring process.

LinkedIn (95% use it) remains recruiters’ most widely used social network. If you’re not on LinkedIn, you should be. This is also true for forward-looking college and high school students.

83% of job seekers use Facebook in some way to aid their job search. If you’re using Facebook as a job-hunting tool, even if only to source leads and referrals from friends, you should spend some time making sure that your online appearance is professional.

82% of recruiters believe their social media recruiting skills to be only proficient, or worse. Companies are saying that they’re going to use social media more for recruiting, but admit they aren’t very good at it. If they’re spending money they will get better at it, so knowing which parts of your online activity will be scrutinized is impossible to pin down. Everything counts.

55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate (positively or negatively) based on their social media profiles (up 13% from 2013). It’s real, growing quickly and it is impacting hiring decisions.

What are the positive things that employers look for in a candidate’s online profile? The list is long, but some of the things are areas in which you can proactively put your best foot forward:

Industry-related posts – If you’re interested in working in a particular industry, your online profile should reflect this.

Specific skills – If you have the required skills, don’t be shy about saying so online, on LinkedIn and elsewhere.

Cultural fit – Perhaps the happy-go-lucky, partying you needs to be a smaller part of your online image if you want to look like a great candidate.

Examples of work – If you have worked on relevant projects, you can post PowerPoint decks on SlideShare or upload videos to YouTube.

Volunteer activities – if you’re giving back to the community, this looks great to employers.

What turns employer off? Pretty much what you’d expect. Here are the things that sway hiring decisions in a negative direction:

  • Profanity
  • Spelling/grammar errors
  • Illegal rug references
  • Sexual posts
  • Alcohol
  • Guns

The time when candidates could easily keep their online life separate from their professional life is behind us. For current students who have not yet entered the job market, this means that your current online activity could impact your future employment. Parents, talk to your teens about keeping it clean and professional online. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can ask us for a second opinion.

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.