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Palmetto Parent

5 Tips to Help Your High Schooler be a Responsible Digital Citizen

Aug 03, 2017 11:18AM ● Published by Rachel Coon

By Kristina B. Hill, M.S.

Because of the ever-growing influence of social media and the surprising amount of time teenagers spend each day on media-connected activities like listening to music and watching videos – (up to 9 hours according to some reports) – it’s more important than ever for parents, teachers, and mentors to lead the charge in talking to young people about being responsible digital citizens.

High school is an ideal time to ramp up conversations about digital literacy. College and career aspirations grab more attention and a student’s digital footprint – those things found online through a simple Google or social media search – can make or break attempts at college admission or a first job. For some parents and adults, it can be intimidating to approach young people about social media or digital and technology topics. Get started by passing along this simple, yet meaningful and age-appropriate advice:

    The old adage, “you are the people you surround yourself with,” is just as true online as it is offline. Stay mindful of social media connections and think twice before sharing text messages, videos, comments, and photos across all forms of media. Have fun, but be mindful, especially about new laws that are taking shape to tackle derogatory content posted online. You are what you share.
   
 Connected to the first tip, discreetly unfriending or unfollowing anyone who demonstrates bad character on social media is a good habit to develop early and to use often. High school students especially should get in a rhythm of regularly Googling themselves to learn what’s connected with their name online and who shares the same or similar name. This is also a good routine to have in college and when preparing to enter the workforce.
   
College and career decisions are around the corner and first impressions are lasting impressions for recruiters. Consider a social media profile solely for the college recruitment process, scholarship pursuits, and first job applications. Share academic achievements and awards, personal interests, pictures of volunteer service, and other positive content. This new profile is also the first step to an evolving digital portfolio that demonstrates growth from high school, to college, to career. Use this new, more polished profile to connect with and follow colleges and trade schools, companies of interest, classmates, and potential mentors. It’s never too early to develop relationships that can bear fruit in the long-run. 

Proactively teaching high schoolers how to use all forms of media responsibly today can help lay a positive foundation for their tomorrow.

Kristina B. Hill, M.S. is a social media marketing instructor, communications professional, and freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @kristinabrandy.  
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