How you portray yourself on the web has never been more important than right now, especially if you’re a college student. Whatever you post on the web is there for the world to see and nothing can ever truly be erased from it. This came to my attention when I would see posts by students from my old high school including pictures of them drinking alcohol or doing other obscene things, statuses about them being drunk, and an overall portrayal of themselves as reckless, unintelligent individuals. Already they have jeopardized their admission into college, athletic careers, and even their potential of getting a job. How you portray yourself online is just as important as a resume or application with the increasing use of internet screenings by employers and school administrators. Almost every week in the news you can find a story about a school suspension relating to something they posted on the internet. With that in mind, here are some ways you can create a positive digital footprint so that you won’t have to worry about your future being affected by your online life.
- Google Yourself! Type in your name in Google and see the first things that come up. If they are incriminating or inappropriate, try to delete as much as you can. Get to this before an employer or college does!
- Check Privacy Settings! Check all social media sites to ensure that only people YOU know can look at your posts. It’s important to know that this is only a first line of defense because even you set all things to private, there is always a chance it can be found
- Create Professional Sites for Yourself! Some ways to do this include: creating a blog about your passions, signing up for a Linked-In account (site for networking and finding jobs), and creating social media pages for awareness, charity, or clubs and groups. If you do this, people searching you on the internet will hopefully find these things instead of your Twitter of Facebook page.
- Think before you post! This is the single best thing you can do to protect yourself. One way to help you do this is to think to yourself “would I want my mom to see this?” If the answer is no, then don’t post it! Also make sure your emotions are in-check before you post things. When your angry or sad it’s easy to say something threatening or ridiculous online.
- Have Authority Figures as Friends or Followers! This might sound silly, but it will help you think twice. Having my parents as friends on Facebook and coaches follow me on twitter has stopped me from posting many stupid things at times.
These are a few things you can do to create a positive digital footprint, but bottom line, just don’t be stupid :). Have common sense and don’t portray yourself as an irresponsible individual online. You never know what will come back to haunt you.