TeenbloggingThis past summer I was honored to teach a class at a local college about online reputation to a group of teens.  I was amazed at how receptive they were and jumped in to start creating their positive online image and building their virtual real estate!

Today we hear a lot about businesses and professionals that are hiring reputation management companies to help them maintain their virtual image.  It is something that has just about replaced hiring a public relations firm or can work with one.

What our children need to understand, and especially our tweens and teens that will be applying to colleges and their first time jobs, is that their online image is just as important as their parent’s or anyone that is in business today.

With this thought we need to encourage our kids to keep it clean online especially when it comes to their social networking such as Facebook and Twitter.  If someone posts something to your wall that is questionable or not appropriate, your child has to know it is okay to remove that post.  Your child also has to use caution with what they are posting.  The cliché, what you post today can haunt you tomorrow, is absolutely true.  Why risk it?

Is that picture or post really that important?  Is 15 minutes of gratitude worth risking a college of first choice or a dream job?

When it comes to online reputation our kids should start young in building their own virtual image.  Let’s face it, most of them spend a lot of time online.  Let’s encourage them to spend time building a positive reflection of themselves and start owning their own online real estate.

A simple place to start is building a Blog. Blogger aka Blogspot is one of the most user-friendly ones to start with.  Creating your own Blog online is actually starting to build and own your own real estate online.  This can be fun and exciting and a way to express who you are.

Blogger.com  will walk you through the steps to set you up and create your own template with designs of your choice.  You have a wide range of colors, layouts, fonts, settings and can add your own pictures and videos.

The most important step will be creating your URL – the name of your blog website.  Choosing your name is ideal – such as “sallysmith” – if your name is taken, they will suggest ways to use your name such as “sally-smith” or “sallysmith12”. If you have a middle name or initial you want to add such as “sallyannsmith.”  It is important to choose a URL as close to your name as possible.  This helps when your name is searched by anyone that is doing an Internet background search on you – whether it is for a position on a sports team, a job hire or college placement, you want your online reputation to glow.

Once that has been done and you designed your template you will be ready to Blog!  So what will you Blog about?  Remember we want to keep it positive – we want to be sure your grammar and spelling are correct and we don’t want any profanity!

  • Let’s start with your hobbies and interests.  Do you love dance or sports?  Tell the readers about your favorite team – did you go see a recital recently?  Have photo’s to post of it?  Share it with your readers.
  • Movie and book reviews.  Have you seen any good movies?  Read any good books?   Share this with your readers.  Post a picture of the book cover or maybe a trailer of the movie you saw.
  • Visit a local restaurant or skating rink?  Share your experiences – anything you would recommend from the menu?
  • Vacations, travels:  Talk about places you have visited.  If you have photo’s, you can post them.
  • Summer Camps:  Did you attend a summer camp or teen travel?  Share those experiences.  Would you recommend them and why?
  • Apps, games: Have you tried any new apps or games that you really liked?  Share them and why you really liked them.
  • Have you won any awards?  Share them  – be proud.

Literally you can write about many things going on and most of all things that you are passionate about.  Staying positive is not always easy, let’s face it, life can throw us curve balls.  There is nothing wrong with having a down day now and then, but stay away from the posting a lot of darkness and especially profanity.

Once you have mastered your Blogger Blog – try to update it weekly or as often as you can.  It is so important that you continue to maintain your digital image.  The Internet is not going away and you will find this will be something you will someday look back at and realize that you have accomplished so much of what you wanted to be.

Create your future one positive keystroke at a time.