Yes, it is that time of the year when our teens will be out celebrating. Proms and graduation parties will soon be underway, and many kids are ready to let loose and enjoy the relief that school is nearly over and summer is almost here. Everyone is entitled to a good time and let's face it, they are also entitled to have memories of it.
However, does the world need to remember it?
Many parents have 'the talk' about drinking and driving with their kids, and teens also need to know that buzzed driving kills, just like drunk driving. But in today's digital world, are you having 'the talk' about what they are posting and saying on their social networking sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter? As we inch up to the sizzling times of proms and graduation parties, exactly what will we find online? Your son in a compromising position over the toilet? Your daughter maybe smoking something she shouldn't be?
And maybe a college recruiter reviewing these social media pages as they're scouting out their applicants.
Drunk driving literally ends lives. But digital drama can potentially end a bright future for your child and their dreams. As with traveling on spring break and documenting their virtual footprints, which may not be so flattering to the Ivy League school they are applying to, teens need to take the same precautions digitally with their graduation and prom festivities. On the flip side, your child could become the victim of a vicious sexting ploy. Pictures of her/him could be taken out of context and go viral.
What can you do?
It all goes back to communication. Talk to your teens about the dangers of digital drama and how what they post today can affect their future. We may sound like a broken record, but eventually these kids will understand the importance of their virtual resume.
Let's start with privacy. Is there such a thing anymore? Yes, there is, however you have to learn how to manage it.
Make it a habit, once a week, double check all your social networking sites privacy settings. Be sure your virtual life is secure.
• Who are your friends? Do you trust them not to take your pictures and comments out of context and place them where they shouldn't be? If you don't personally know your friends or acquaintances, you may want to quietly un-friend them.
• Do you feel comfortable allowing others access to tagging you? If not have you set your privacy settings to manage your tagging suggestions from others in Facebook?
• Once a month, change your passwords and never give them out to anyone (except your parents).
STOMP Out Bullying, in conjunction with Seventeen magazine, started DELETE Digital Drama. The founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying, Ross Ellis, recently said that social media has played a huge role in the work of saving the lives of so many kids. With this, I would concur that when things are used the way they should be, people can have fun, enjoy their memories and use discretion on what they decide to post on their social networking sites.
Back to the parties.
Let's store those memories safely! Everyone deserves to have a blast at a party, after all, that is what graduation parties and proms are about. Being with friends and creating memories. There is nothing wrong with your teens making their graduation and prom celebration albums full of excitement and pictures of all the awesome times they had with friends from high school. Why not put them in a creative online scrapbook like Smilebox? Then they can be placed on their Tumblr blog or Facebook page. This way their scrapbook is contained and appropriately titled -- their prom or graduation party -- and if a college recruiter or a potential employer decides to go through your teen's scrapbook, chances are pretty good they'll find a cool book of memories much like their own.
Takeaway tips for teens:
• Your digital footprint will follow you into your future. Doesn't it make sense to label your memories in an online photo album or scrapbook?
• Monitor what your friend's are posting on your social networking sites. Delete digital drama as soon as you see it happening on your sites.
• Remember to check your privacy settings weekly.
• Keep it clean. Even your scrapbook shouldn't display words of profanity.
So go ahead, enjoy your graduation party and prom!
Delete digital drama, and never drink and drive.
Smile, snap, click and POST into your scrapbook today!