This post written by Dana Nelson, Founding Member and Board of Directors Member of the National Social Media Club.
You’re finally old enough and or your parents let you have a Facebook account. Now you face the biggest challenge of your character. This challenge before you has the potential to haunt you for years to come. But it's more than you being wise enough to post responsibly. Even kids who think they are being good online are at risk.
Everything online stays online; even if you erase it.
What you say and what is said about you can impact you in so many ways, not just the "bad" stuff. Online there are digital predators who take information that seems harmless and can infer information about you. That alone can put you at risk.
But let’s face it; you have a phone, Internet access and a need to be connected to your friends and peers. What you do with that camera, can make or break your future.
“But I’m gonna clean it up before I go get a job.”
Yes you should do that. You should also Google yourself. Those pictures you erased might still be out there for years to come, with your name attached to it.
“I have good grades; my Facebook won’t affect me getting into college.”
I know of a student who lost a full ride scholarship because of a 30 second YouTube video he did in middle school. 30 seconds. That’s all it took to break him.
“I have my privacy settings locked down.”
Even so Facebook is notorious for changing privacy. One day you’re locked down the next your photos are available for others to use in ads. (← that really happened!) Nothing is stopping your friends from saving the photos and information you post in a stupid moment and using them against you.
Listen, I know it’s not fun to think about growing up and being serious, but this is serious. It’s serious now, and it will be serious later. I have a client who came to me last year. He had a friend in high school who got mad at him. That friend made a website about this gentleman. Now if you search his name, you get this website with photos saved from old Facebook pictures. I know that doesn’t seem fair, but life isn’t fair.
At the same time, you can use your digital footprint for good. Post pics of you helping at the Tri-State Food Bank, or raising money for a fellow student with cancer. Help share information about community or school events.
So what could you do? How can you take your social media and use it for good?