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Find out more about how an online reputation is created and tracked to help children understand the long-lasting effects of what they share online.

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What makes up an online reputation?

The internet keeps a record of everyone’s online behaviour – the photos we upload, the comments other people make about us and the things we buy. This is our online reputation. It’s important children understand how to manage their online reputation and the impacts for them of a negative online reputation.

Watch to learn how your child’s online reputation is created.
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The internet keeps a record of everything we do online – the photos we upload, what we say, the comments other people make about us, and the things we buy. This forms our online reputation.

Children start sharing information from an early age, and often substantial record will exist about them. What happens if this information is inaccurate, or the result of sexting, or cyberbullying? Once it’s online it’s difficult to erase or change and could have a long-lasting impact.

Children should understand that their actions online can affect both themselves and others. They should never say anything about anyone they wouldn’t want said about them. Nasty comments they make now may reflect back on them for years to come.

Online reputation facts and statistics

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More than 1 in 5 of  8-17s said that someone had posted an image or video to bully them
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Almost half (45%) of 13 – 17-year-olds have seen nude or nearly nude photos of someone they know being shared around their school or local community
Source

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Nearly a third of 8-17-year-olds have shared a photo they wouldn’t want their parents or carers to see
Source

These stats show that although children are thought to ‘think before they post’ and be ‘share aware’ it can hard for them to restrain from posting things which they may later regret.  It’s important to continue to talk to them about what they and others share about them so they can take back control about what people will learn about them.

How is my child’s online reputation formed?

Many parents nowadays post their baby’s scan picture and photos of their newborn on social network pages. Children themselves start sharing information from a young age – the result is that by the time they are 18, a permanent and often substantial record will exist about them.

What happens if that information is inaccurate, or is the result of sexting or bullying? Once uploaded, such information is difficult to erase or change and could have a long-lasting impact especially if shared on social media.

A video from Parent Zone and the Internet Watch Foundation on the dangers of posting photos online.
Resources document

Barclays Digital Wings – Your Digital Footprint quiz – Test your child’s knowledge of their digital footprint by taking this short quiz together.

Take Quiz

What are the effects of negative online behaviour?

Interfering with friendships and relationships

A nasty comment made about someone privately can soon find its way to that person or even more widely if it is shared by the recipient.

Impact on educational and career prospects

Future employers and admissions officers often search for information about candidates by looking for them online. Research shows that 35% of employers use social media to screen potential employees.

Disrupting future credit ratings

If a child’s identity is stolen and used to obtain credit it may not be noticed for many years.

How do I know what sort of online reputation my child has?

You can find out more about your child’s online reputation by taking the following steps:

  • search for your child online – use different search engines and check using your child’s whole name and other identifying information such as town or nickname.
  • Also, search on Google image look at the kind of information these searches reveal – are the comments, photos, links appropriate? Do they include private information like their school or address? If your child has a blog, what does it say?
  • If your child is a member of a social networking site, consider joining it yourself and ask to be your child’s online connection, or get another trusted adult to do this. Be aware that some children may have two or more profiles, one they share with their parents, and one they use for talking to their friends put all the information together and see what it says about your child. Does the picture it portrays feel right to you?
Resources document

What is a digital Tattoo? – Parent Info article about what children post online and the potential impact.

Read article

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See our top Internet Manners tips to help kids think about good they’re online behaviour

More to explore

Here are some other useful tips and guides to help you learn more about managing children’s digital footprints: