School’s in session and for high school seniors that means college application season. While there is so much to consider as deadlines fast approach and the pressure rises, you can ease your digital dread by doing a social media sweep now. You don’t need panicked perfection online; you just need good digital character. The person you are in real life should be reflected in your online presence. How do you contribute to Internet culture? How can you show up online in a way that feels true & real to you? How do you handle the challenges of being mindful a digital citizen?
Your world is growing and changing and your goals and dreams are knocking. There are undoubtedly things to worry about. Don’t let your digital character be one of them. The best approach is to have a healthy (for you) online presence not because an admissions officer might check, but because you want it anyway. This is the path to a full and satisfying digital life – as a student and beyond. Let these twelve tips help you get there.
1. Don’t be afraid to be yourself online. Show all of your interests, passions and let your unique personality come through. Authenticity matters.
2. Be in control of your accounts. Monitor them regularly so you can manage comments, posts, tags and how others interact with you.
3. Use your social media voice for good. Amplify what matters to you. And use opportunities to lift up your influences and community - including your school, peers, role models, mentors and causes.
4. Be where you want to be online. Just because there are multiple social media options doesn’t mean you need to be everywhere. Show up online in spaces where you feel connected and productive. Demonstrate skills that matter to you.
5. Know what comes up with your name on an Internet search. Know that you can impact that search with your positive online engagement.
6. Pictures, language and tone leave the biggest first impression. Be mindful of what your account looks like “at a glance”.
7. Ask yourself: Does this convo, argument, inside joke need to be online? Be deliberate in when and how you use your voice or else it’s just noise. Remember silence and share stopping are always a choice.
8. Ask yourself: Am I hiding online or do you want to be found? This assessment can determine if you need to tidy your accounts to highlight the best parts of your character.
9. Match your online and offline personalities. That consistency will benefit you in a world that requires you to be present both on the screens and away from the screens.
10. Even a private account can make its way to the public. Imagining the billboard outside of school with your profile on it helps manage what you want to share.
11. Have fun with social media. Bring your playful and passionate, creative and curious side to it. It doesn’t need to be an online resume, polished to perfection, but it does represent you.
12. You are a human! You will make mistakes IRL (in real life) so of course you’ll make mistakes on the screens. It’s ok. You’re ok. It will be ok. It’s how we handle those mistakes that matter most. Let your character – in good times & in bad – shine.