True Story – Why You Should Google Your Kids’ Names

This was a proud week for our family. My oldest graduated from high school and will be heading off to college later this summer. Thankfully his admission to college wasn’t derailed by his online activity or anything else.

I thought I’d share a true story that happened back in early 2013 when we were starting ThirdParent. We were testing some of our processes by running simulations using real people. We were using my son as a subject and one of the first steps is that we Google his name.

Google SERPHe happens to have a fairly common, unisex first name but a very rare last name (for the purposes of this post let’s call him Jessie Stalemate), and I knew for a fact that he was not active on social media, so I didn’t think we’d find much. Much to our surprise, 7 out of the top 10 search results for his exact name were pornography-related. He was 15-years old at the time.

It turns out that an Eastern European porn actress has the exact same name as my son. Yikes. What made the situation even touchier is that the porn results were mostly low quality aggregation sites, and it wasn’t clear at first glance whether they were pictures and video featuring a porn actor named Jessie Stalemate, or collections assembled by a pornography fan named Jessie Stalemate.

By now it’s a given that some college admissions officers and most employers will check you out online at some point in determining what kind of person you are – perhaps before they’ve had the chance to meet you. This was a bad search result in that context. You can imagine some hiring manager doing this search and thinking. “Wow, this kid is really into porn” and moving on to the next candidate.

Googling your teen’s name really is the first step in making sure that his digital footprint is clean, keeping in mind that others will be very quick to form an opinion.

When you do the Google search on your teen, unless he has a unique name, you’ll probably need to add a geographic qualifier. We recommend Googling “Jessie Stalemate”, then “Jessie Stalemate New Jersey”, then “Jessie Stalemate Flemington New Jersey” until you get a result that is mostly your child. If everything is clean, or if you don’t find anything, you’re probably in good shape. That doesn’t tell the whole story though. Google doesn’t index everything, and some social network allow users to hide themselves from search engines. It’s just a starting point on the road to good digital hygiene.

In some situations like this one, there could be a bad actor who has the same name as your child. In other cases, your child may have made a regrettable mistake that made its way online. If either is true, you have some work to do, or you can reach out to us for help. Oh and by the way, we fixed his search results.

 

 

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.

 

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Peeple Might Be The Worst Social App Ever

Scheduled to launch around November, Peeple, the Yelp for people, could very well be the app that does the most damage to individuals’ self esteem in the social media landscape. Everyone’s reputation could be at risk.

peeple-appWe’re willing to bet that it doesn’t launch in the form that the founders described yesterday to the Washington Post and covered by The Verge and others, but stranger things have happened.

According to Peeple’s website, their mission is questionable from the get go, and fraught with all kinds of negative possibilities:

“Peeple is an app that allows you to rate and comment about the people you interact with in your daily lives on the following three categories: personal, professional, and dating. Peeple will enhance your online reputation for access to better quality networks, top job opportunities, and promote more informed decision making about people.”

There are some terms and conditions that will/might/probably won’t limit the trolls out there. According to yesterday’s press coverage

  • You need to be 21 and a Facebook user with an account at least six months old to make a review of someone (Facebook doesn’t verify user age so good luck with that safeguard}
  • Reviewers must use their real name (again, we assume the Facebook link serves to verify your name, but it’s easy to establish and entirely fake Facebook persona)
  • People who have been reviewed can report anything inaccurate back to the site
  • To review someone who is not in the Peeple database, you have to add their cell phone number (no idea how this will work in practice, since we’re not sure that Peeple will send a text message verifying that it’s you)

The article at The Verge does a good job wading through the uncertainties in the case of negative reviews:

“…there’s currently no way for users to opt-out of Peeple. Anyone can sign up anyone else if they have their cell number, and although only positive reviews are shown on the profiles of people who haven’t signed up, members of the public can’t see their reviews unless they join. It’s also not clear whether negative reviews are judged to be so based only on the star rating or whether the actual content is also taken into account. If just the former, it means that users could give people extremely negative reviews but a good star rating, with the targets of these write-ups never knowing about them unless they signed up.”

That’s a lot to think about.

According to an preview of Peeple in the Washington Post:

“One does not have to stretch far to imagine the distress and anxiety that such a system would cause even a slightly self-conscious person; it’s not merely the anxiety of being harassed or maligned on the platform — but of being watched and judged, at all times, by an objectifying gaze to which you did not consent.”

That is a very important consideration in our view. Telling someone to their face that they are a nasty person, or did a bad job, or took you on a bad date is one thing; posting it publicly online and linking it to their real name and cell phone number is another entirely.

We don’t wish failure on anyone, but we hope this app doesn’t launch as currently contemplated, and if it does, that it never get off the ground.

Read a very thoughtful take on Peeple from a real life twenty something here.

 

 

 

 

 

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 Are Looking For Online

All right college students – and high school students – if you haven’t done so already, it is high time you thought about how your digital footprint might impact your job search when the time comes.

Of course you know some of the basics. Every Instagram pic you post shouldn’t be you holding a beer can or a bong. Actually, none of them should include a bong. Good grammar and spelling are far better than your posts looking like a sloppy mess. Cyberbullying, racist and homophobic comments are a no no, even in jest.

With the help of a recent Workopolis survey of employers, we though we’d look a little deeper at where employers are looking online to check you out, what they’re looking for and why. The survey polled over 300 Canadian employers, with 63% of them reporting that they look candidates up online and on social media at some point during the hiring process. Where are they looking?interview

  • LinkedIn 91%
  • Facebook 75%
  • Twitter 28%
  • Instagram 16%
  • Tumblr 3%

According to Workopolis, Twitter was the fastest growing network over last year’s results. Jobs seekers should be aware of that, as well as the fact that Instagram and Tumblr are on the list. We see all too often that young people act as though their Twitter and Instagram accounts are private, even when they aren’t.

In terms of what employers are looking for, the answer pretty simply boils down to the fact that they want to get a better idea of who the candidate really is, i.e. what are the risks or positive side effects of having this candidate join our team. To wit:

“We here at Workopolis once declined to interview an applicant whose Facebook profile picture was of him holding a beer high over his head wearing only a baseball cap and a sock. (Not on his foot.) The thing is, I don’t really care if you want to get a little crazy and pull a Blink 182 in your backyard with your friends on the weekend. That’s not really any of my business…I do care that you don’t have the common sense not to put a photograph of it online and make it your public profile picture – especially while applying for jobs. If you display such poor judgment representing yourself, how much will you show when representing my brand?”

According to the survey, 48% of hiring managers had seen something online that made their opinion of a candidate more negative, while 38% had seen something online that swayed them in a more positive direction. That means that there is a 26% greater chance that your online profile does more harm than good. The odds may seem to be against you.

Does that mean that you should stay offline entirely, or be completely anonymous online? Not at all. Employers in the survey offered that they see it as a red flag if they can’t find any trace of a candidate online. Is she hiding something?

Even if your online profile is a terrible mess, it isn’t impossible to clean it up. After all, in an article in this week’s U.S. News and World Report titled College Seniors: Do these 11 things to graduate with a job, 3 of the 11 relate to your online profiles and image. This is the new normal.

You can clean up your act and put a more positive spin on things. If you need help, we can get you where you need to be.

 

 

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.

Trevor Noah Learns That Twitter Has a Very Long Memory

In what was generally, at first at least, viewed as a wise move, comedian Trevor Noah was named to replace Jon Stewart as host of “The Daily Show”. The praise lasted for a few hours, until a number of news outlets including Fusion and the New York Daily News began detailing what they view as the comedian’s scandalous and inappropriate Twitter history.

trevor-noah-twitter

Note that the tweet above, which appeared in the Fusion article, is from 2011. One of the tweets mentioned goes back to 2009. There is no statute of limitations on regrettable things that you post online, especially if they are retweeted by one or more of your followers.

Noah will probably get a free pass here – he is a professional comedian and “The Daily Show” does play fast and loose. You might even think that off-color humor is acceptable. It doesn’t matter what you or I think, what matters is how the powers that be view a candidate’s reputation as it impacts their reputation.

When it comes to parenting, it is tempting to assume that as long as your teen doesn’t aspire to some high profile gig like a talk show host, you have nothing to worry about. We disagree. Most employers will look online to glean some insight into the “real” person that they are about to hire. As we have written before, if you don’t get the job (or scholarship, or grant or award) because of your digital footprint, you’ll probably never hear the real reason.

The only wise course of action is to clean up your online activity before it has a chance, even a remote one, of being a problem.

By the way, we can help with that.

 

 

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.