Six Tips for Kids to Lead a Healthy Online Life

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Each day we read about new online problems negatively impacting kids, teens and college students.  Inappropriate photos and videos prevent applicants gaining acceptance into their preferred university.  Kids get bullied online.  College students can’t get jobs because of well documented online failings.

Online reputation expert John P. David, author the new book “How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online,” (Career Press 10/16) offers the following tips to help young people have a healthy online life.

  • Follow the rules. The best way to have a good online reputation is to have a good offline reputation. This starts with being respectful of life’s many rules and the laws of the land. We have to follow the rules, plain and simple, because breaking life’s rules is a quick way to get yourself in trouble and an easy way to have problems online.

 

  • Resist the urge to digitally document everything. Everything that we do in life does not deserve to be a tweet or posted on Facebook or Instagram. No one is immune from having a bad day. Everyone has done something in public that they are not proud of, whether it is losing our temper, yelling at a friend or relative, or just doing something foolish. We have to resist the urge to document everything that we do, and stop ourselves from documenting the failings of others.

 

  • Know who your friends are. Friends don’t post inappropriate things about you online, and they don’t try to coax you into doing dumb things when your judgment is impaired.  To the contrary, friends help you get home safe. They look out for you. They remind you when something you are considering is, in fact, a bad idea. Your friends help you be a better person, not make you look silly online. Keep your friends close, and keep your enemies far away.

 

  • Stop taking pictures of your private parts. This one seems so simple, yet we continue to see instances of young people exchanging naked pictures online. Nothing good can come from this.  We have to teach our daughters to stop taking naked pictures of themselves, and we have to tell our sons to stop asking for them. Sexting is a two street that none of us should be on.

 

  • You aren’t smarter than everyone else. Creating an online alias or using a made-up nickname does not make you immune from online vulnerability. Online activity can be tracked and researched in ways that most of us don’t understand, so even the cleverest of young people won’t be able hide their activities online forever.

 

  • Learn self-respect. Many online issues arise because young people are trying to get attention. While breaking a rule, posting something inappropriate, taking a video of a stranger’s meltdown, or texting an inappropriate photo may seem like a fun thing to do in the short term, it will eventual be a source of regret. Self-respect cures many of these ills. If we all have self-respect, then we will respect others – and many online problems will go away.

More information on how to lead a safe online life is available in David’s book “How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online,” which is available in bookstores everywhere and online outlets including Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and Indiebound.com.  For background on the book or to learn more about David, including speaking engagements, visit www.OnlineRepBook.com.