Educating our Kids about Online Reputations: Telus Wise

I have one of these:

This is my son, Michael, who’s 12. And a half, actually. Which makes him a “tween”–that weird in-between stage where they aren’t quite kids, but they’re also not yet teenagers.

Kids today, obviously, have very different things to grow up with than we did. Michael has his own phone, and has for a year, already. I got it for him so we could text each other, and if he ever needs me, it’s easy for him to get in touch with me. If I’m late picking him up, away on a business trip, or if I just want to say goodnight (while he’s at his dad’s), the phone is invaluable.

He doesn’t really have social media accounts. Technically, you need to be 13 to get (most of) them, but he does have a Facebook account, which I have some very strict rules around. I recently made him download snapchat so we can swap photos, but we haven’t used it yet.

Teaching kids about safety online is now as de rigueur as teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street, and not to talk to strangers. But the problem with tweens and teens is that they still have that “oh, it won’t happen to me” kind of mindset–the same one that’s been getting them into trouble for ages, long before the internet was even invented.

More than just teaching them about safety, we have to teach them about managing their reputation online. I know it seems crazy… but things they do while in high school or college that might be silly pranks, could affect their ability to get work down the road.

Telus has created this great program that’s free for all parents. It’s called Telus Wise, and its packed with tips for parents, and interactive experiences for tweens and teens. For those of you with kids in the demographic, it’s really worth checking out.

Here are some tips from Telus Wise:

  • Treat your password like your toothbrush don’t share it with anyone and change it often.
  • Don’t post or say anything online that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. Remember, what you say and do online matters — anything you say or post might end up getting spread around or seen by people you didn’t think would see it.
  • Think carefully about how you want people to see you before you pick a name and a profile picture or avatar. Think twice about names and pictures that are misleading, rude or just silly — they could come back to haunt you.
  • Never share personal information about yourself, like where you live, with someone you don’t know online.
  • When you send someone a picture or post a picture online they can do anything they want to it, and so can anybody else who sees the picture. That’s why it’s important to think about how you’d feel if any of those things happened before you send or post a picture.
  • Don’t share stuff that makes other people look bad, but you shouldn’t hold onto it either. Somebody else might get at your phone or your computer and make a copy. Better to delete it right away!
  • If someone says or does something mean to you online, don’t try to argue with them or get back at them: just stop talking to them. Then block them from contacting you anymore (you may need to talk to a website moderator to do this). Save evidence of what they did and talk to your parents or another adult that you trust. They’ll help you figure out if you need to do anything else.

How are you working with your kids to teach them online safety and reputation management? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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