Saturday, 21 April 2012

Social Media Today: Be Smart, Be Safe

Social Media web sites have become a global information network that undoubtedly has many benefits. However, with this increased exposure, it is vital to make sure your children are wise and remain safe as they post information online. Students should not post information about themselves online that they would not want the whole world to know.

This is especially important when students are applying to college. Negative or inappropriate posts may be seen by admission officers and affect an admissions decision. Students must realize that many people may see their posts including teachers, employers, and college admission officers.

Some college admission representatives (and employers), will research students online to see if there is data available to help make an admission decision. Once data is online, it stays online. Even when something is deleted, it may stay on another's computer.

Colleges post current information and chat with students across social media websites. Educating your kids on the best way to use websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr may protect them from potential problems and increase their chances of admission into their top choice colleges.
Chat rooms, blogs, emails and instant messaging are other factors where parents need to carefully instruct children on appropriate measures. For example, your child's screen name should be a name that is not their name which can be used to identify them. However, an email address can reflect a student's name as they will be easily identified when communicating with colleges.

In addition to being smart online to increase chances of being admitted into colleges and obtaining a job, there are security risks when using the internet and social media web sites.

Here are some tips for taking extreme precaution and remaining safe online:

• Join sites where you can keep your information private and restrict access based on approval.

• Make sure that only information you are comfortable revealing is posted. Be extremely careful; about posting personal information such as your child's full name, address, phone number, social security number or any bank or credit card information.

• Parents should monitor what their kids post regarding the name of their school, club or sports team as sometimes people can be identified using this information

• Try not to let your child post their photo online. Pictures can be altered and used in unacceptable ways

• Inform your kids not to make friends with strangers online. People may not always be honest about who they really are.

• Children should know to tell a parent (or adult) if there is any suspicious activity online

Communicate with your kids...ask questions about what they are doing online and try to stay informed. Teach your children how to use privacy settings, how to create strong passwords and to be skeptical about things they read online.

Children are especially susceptible to the dangers that social networking sites may present. Your kids need this education to make them safe social media users and maximize their opportunities for college acceptance and their career.

Jeannie received her Masters Degree in Education and Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and is Founder and President of the national independent college counseling firm College Connections. Jeannie has over fifteen years admissions counseling experience and continues her work as an independent educational and college consultant. She regularly attends professional conferences, networks with colleagues and visits colleges throughout the United States building contacts within the admissions staff. Jeannie has been awarded professional membership with the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). Her affiliation with the National and Western Association of College Admissions Counselors as well as the Higher Educational Consultants Association keeps her on the forefront of innovative and current trends in college admissions and education.

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