A few months ago, we wrote a blog about cyber safety and cyber bullying prevention. This month, we want to discuss a different aspect of cyber safety, specifically as it relates to employment and educational prospects.
EmployIndy has an initiative called Job Ready Indy, which focuses on cyber safety as it relates to employability. Participants, who range in age from 16-24, learn about professional communication through various platforms while also discovering how to network and job search online.
“No matter your age, being safe online is a high priority,” said Ashley Downey, manager of the Job Ready initiative. “Understanding what type of information, whether it is in written posts or images, to share is critical. Without realizing it, we reveal quite a bit about ourselves through our posts. Take a picture in your favorite sweatshirt and you have just shown everyone where you go to school. Post a picture of your kids on the first day of school in front of your house, and now your followers know your house number. We use social media to connect and share our lives, but it is important to realize that once posted, your information is out of your control. You are able to set your privacy settings to minimize who can look at your profile and posts, as well as who can post on your profile, but this safeguard can only go so far due to the nature of social media. It is better to ensure that you screen each post in order to identify any unintentional sharing of information. As youth utilize social media, they need to be aware of these pitfalls.”
Downey continued by acknowledging that, in addition to our own safety, we also need “to talk about protecting the privacy of others. Posts about co-workers, clients, company policies, attitudes towards work, etc. need to be considered as well. What teens post, organizations they become involved in, and conversations they have now are forming their online reputation. Their online reputation is their brand. It is how many organizations first know a teen, especially when they are starting out in the workforce.”
According to Downey, a 2018 CareerBuilder survey showed that 70 percent of employers used social media accounts to screen potential job candidates, and 34 percent of employers said they have “reprimanded or fired an employee based on content found online.”
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office provides a free program called “Project Cybersafe,” which focuses on highlighting the impact of cyberbullying and the potential dangers of social media.
“In our presentations, teens generally can articulate to us what is not acceptable or appropriate to post,” said Kristen Martin, juvenile community pro
In an effort to develop safer digital habits, youth should follow a few helpful guidelines. Downey shared her “golden tips” for youth, especially those who are looking for jobs:
- Stay positive. Employers will want to know how you will fit into their company culture. If it appears that you are always at the center of drama or conflict, they might have second thoughts.
- Keep it PG. This goes for images, memes, videos, and written posts. Use the “Grandma Rule” if you are unsure. (Essentially, if teens are not comfortable with their grandma seeing their posts or images, they should probably not post it.) Chances are, if you question it, it is probably not a good idea to post.
- If you “retweet,” “like,” and/or share someone else’s post, you are essentially endorsing the thoughts contained within it. It does not matter if it is technically yours or not.