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Cyber Footprints Are Teen’s Online Résumés

Today’s digital world offers teens exciting avenues to connect with friends, families, student organizations, colleges and even potential employers. With those opportunities at hand, what teens choose to post online can impact potential employers’ or admissions counselors’ perceptions, whether positively or negatively. Teens’ online presence and social media profiles are arguably becoming “online résumés” or “online GPAs,” readily available to prospective recruiters.

Last month, The New York Times reported on Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine) admissions officers who denied admission to a student who posted inappropriate tweets during a campus information session. While the student’s admittance was ultimately denied based on her academic record, had her standing been better, officials said the posts would have discredited her chances of admission.

In a Kaplan phone questionnaire, 31 percent of college admissions officers admitted to having visited a potential student’s social media profile to learn more about the applicant. Thirty percent also noted that information found online had negatively impacted a potential student’s chance of admission.

“With many colleges, universities and employers taking advantage of social networks to share with and learn about potential students, it is imperative that students and parents be aware of the weight of their digital footprint,” said Stephen Womack, ZABRA expert and English Department Chair at Franklin Senior High School. “The mistakes that most adults were allowed to make as kids with only a few eyes watching are now often very public for today’s students through digital media.”

As parents, we encourage our kids to take risks, express themselves and peruse their passions, but how does this translate to the social media space where guardrails are non-existent? Womack advised, “Students need a chance to learn and make mistakes but those mistakes often take more resilience to overcome than they did in the pre-digital world. Parents need to be there to help students navigate through the difficulties in a connected world.”

Parents, remember to talk to your kids about their online GPA and the importance of making smart and appropriate decisions online. For more digital parenting resources, browse ZABRA’s YouTube page for expert videos and testimonials.

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