Life & Style
How to protect your grandchild's online reputation
Your grandchildren are digital natives, which means that they may not always be cautious about managing their online reputations. This matters because they might post on their blog or social networking page comments, photos, or videos they wouldn’t necessarily want fellow students or teachers to see. It’s not uncommon for admissions tutors and employers to look up applicants on the web - which could cause problems much later on. It’s important to help your grandchild understand the potential consequences of their behaviour in the digital world so that they can protect their reputation in real life. Here's what you need to know...
How can a child tarnish their online reputation?
- They might download and share music or other content illegally.
- Someone might publish footage of them doing something silly, embarrassing or reckless on a video-sharing website like YouTube.
- They could make a nasty comment (often referred to as "flaming" or cyberbullying) in an email, IM or text or on someone else’s wall on their social networking page or blog.
- Someone else could set up a fake profile for your grandchild on a social networking site and say negative things about them or make it look like they're behaving badly.
What can you do?
- Talk to them about the fact that the internet is public.
- Encourage them to make the most of built-in privacy tools – they can set their social networking page or blog to "private", for example, so that only invited people can see it – and help them understand keeping their private and public lives separate.
- Explain that every time they go online they leave a trail – they’re not anonymous as they can be traced via their unique IP address. Similarly, when they use their mobile, their network provider makes a record of any calls.
- Sit down with your grandchild and type their name into a search engine so they can see what comes up about them.
- Encourage them to ask permission before publishing photos and videos of their friends or family on the web (and to ask their friends to do the same).
- Explain why it’s important that they’re honest when registering for websites.
- Discuss how they could be breaking the law if they make comments about someone online.
To discuss issues of online safety and other topics with fellow grandparents, visit our forums.