Contributing to social media discussions by posting and commenting is something that considerable care should be taken over and in no demographic is this more apparent and applicable than teenagers/young adults. The significance and impact of a throwaway comment/retweet/picture on a Twitter feed or Facebook page should not be underestimated. Social media has changed the way we communicate; private conversations can become public and public conversations can become viral.
Most future employers will also look at your public social media profiles to double check the general details of your life and verify you’re not prone to social media activity that could embarrass the company. About 80 percent will run a Google search to pull up these pages as well as any other presence you may have on the web, so it pays to be diligent l with your online reputation and social media activities.
A ReputationDefender, our younger team members all have a degree of social media awareness. Yet, when viewing social media, we’re not convinced that other young adults and teenagers share this awareness. In fact, the majority are in desperate need of education and support so they can understand how to use social media responsibly. This is supported by a lot of the conversations we have had over the past five years with younger people who have fallen into the trap of misusing social media, to the point where it has impacted on their own reputation - so much that they now believe it is hindering their chances of employment.
With this in mind, take a look at Piers Morgan’s next tweet and look at the response he receives. This controversial journalist and television personality recently tweeted a simple reference to a plastic surgery article. It received over a dozen responses, 90% of which we cannot reference due to the language and general abuse used.
Looking a little deeper: one of the comments posted was uploaded by what would seem to be a young man from the UK in which several profanities were used, contributing to a very unpleasant message. This comment is visible on both Piers Morgan’s and - more importantly - the individual’s profile, which is available for all to see.
With an individual like Piers who regularly responds to such abuse, there is also the possibility that this comment will go viral and as a result be presented directly to Google. What this means is that if you were to Google the individual’s name you would likely see the same offensive comment on page one of his search results. This happens more often than you would expect.
People using made-up ‘handles’ with generic profile images to post abusive comments are often referred to as ‘trolls’. We can only speculate as to what kind of person would write such obscene comments on a public platform and, whilst this type of person is not the target audience for this particular article, they do present an excellent example of how an ill thought out comment could potentially go viral. It’s the younger generation we need to look out and take responsibility for.
It’s very difficult for a parent to police social media and if they do not allow their children to use the internet, they are in danger of alienating them. The current generation of parents are maybe not aas well versed in social media as the next generation of parents will be, which means there is currently a whole generation that is not receiving the kind of guidance and support required to use social media in a responsible way.
One real opportunity that could address this issue is to start simple workshops in schools for children from the age of 13, as the way they use social media will undoubtedly have an impact on how they are perceived by others.
In short, we cannot expect teens and young adults to use social media responsibly without the right sort of prior guidance, just as we wouldn’t expect them to be able to complete an algebraic equation without first being taught the rules or formula required to solve it.