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Reputation Management

Everything you do and say online or using a mobile device can be permanent and is a reflection of you and your reputation. At ThinkUKnow, we refer to this as your digital shadow – a digital representation of you that will follow you throughout your life.

This digital shadow can be a great thing: it can show others how creative, friendly and intelligent you are. It can also do the opposite: it can show others that you don’t care about your reputation or how you treat others.

 

What are the key steps I can take?

  • Encourage your child to think before they post
  • Suggest your child searches themselves online – and do the same
  • Remove any content that may damage your reputation
     

I want to know more…

Once something goes online, you have very little chance of deleting it. It could remain out there in five different ways:

  1. Copied – it’s not that difficult for someone to right-click on an image and copy it. Once they have their own copy, even if you delete the original version, it may still be accessible to others
  2. Forwarded – if you allow someone to access your content, you can’t control who they share it with and they may forward your material onto others who don’t have your best interests at heart
  3. Posted elsewhere – if someone can copy or forward or content, they can also post it elsewhere online, perhaps a very public website. The same goes for emails, private messages and texts – you may share them with one person but they could always post them elsewhere.
  4. Saved – you may not realize that someone has saved your content until they decide to use it against you. Someone could have saved your content on their device or even made a hard copy, and are waiting for an opportunity to share it with others.
  5. Cached – caching is a form of archiving which search engines like Google and Bing do where they take a snapshot of what a web page looks like at a given point in time and stores this in an area of the internet which others can search.

Even though any of these five instances may have occurred, it is still a good idea to remove content you have previously posted to make it that much harder for others to find and access in the future.

We've also put together some PDF guides on managing your reputation online which are available here.

So what advice can you pass onto to your child?

  • Encourage your child to think before they post – take two seconds to pause and reflect on what they are posting and how it could affect them and others, now and into the future.
  • Suggest your child searches themselves online and do the same – you can use normal search engines such as Google and Bing, or meta search engines such as pipl.com and dogpile.com which search multiple databases at once.
  • Remove any content that may damage your reputation – this also means asking friends to remove content they have shared about you.
  •  Discuss with your friends what material they can and can’t share about you and do the same for them!
  • Have a look at the people who can access your content (such as friends or contacts) and remove any which you don’t think would help you to manage your reputation.

Tell me everything!

When talking about reputation management, it is crucial that your child thinks about what their reputation means to them. A great exercise is to encourage them to think of four words which best describe their personality and values, for example: kind, thoughtful, outgoing, creative, loyal, intelligent, friendly, athletic, ambitious. These four words make up their reputation or “personal brand”.

Next, ask them to reflect on whether their actions online and through mobile devices accurately reflect their “personal brand”. Did that drama-filled blog post really show them as loyal? Did that photo uploaded onto Facebook show them as ambitious?

Finally, encourage them to imagine the future and the sorts of careers and relationships they would like to aspire to. What they do and say online today could affect these opportunities tomorrow and even further into the future.

What goes online stays online!

So what advice can you pass onto to your child?

  • Encourage your child to think before they post – take two seconds to pause and reflect on what they are posting and how it could affect them and others, now and into the future.
  • Suggest your child searches themselves online and do the same – you can use normal search engines such as Google and Bing, or meta search engines such as pipl.com and dogpile.com which search multiple databases at once. Search also for usernames, email addresses and gaming handles and do this regularly.
  • Remove any content that may damage your reputation – this also means asking friends to remove content they have shared about you.
  • Discuss with your friends what material they can and can’t share about you and do the same for them!
  • Have a look at the people who can access your content (such as friends or contacts) and remove any which you don’t think would help you to manage your reputation.
  • Change the settings on your social network profile around who can tag you in posts and photos.
  • Think about what online activities could help you achieve the careers and relationships you aspire to.