By Eve Tahmincioglu
Are your Internet-crazed kids sabotaging your job search/career?
Who knows things about you that you’d rather not share with the general public? That you drink two or three martinis every night. Maybe you like to call in sick when you’re really not sick to play basketball with the kids. Or maybe you’re prone to punching in walls when you fight with your spouse.
I’ve written a lot about digital dirt lately. You know, the negative information about you on the Internet you don’t want your boss or prospective employers to see.
Well, here’s a minefield you better keep an eye on — Your own digitally savvy kids that seem to spend every waking moment of their lives sending weird things to eachother on Facebook, or MySpace.
The owner of ReputationDefender.com, Michael Fertick, recently told me of a new phenomenon he’s discovered in his quest to help people everywhere protect their online reputations. The company helps individuals by searching the Internet for bad stuff about their customers and then finding ways to get rid of it. Sometimes it’s as simple as calling a blogger and asking that something negative be removed, and in other cases it requires writing lots of good stuff about a client so it drowns out the bad stuff.
The bad stuff usually comes from disgruntled girlfriends or boyfriends; people criticizing something you wrote or a project you worked on; or maybe you got rowdy at a football game and the local paper wrote about you.
But Fertik was surprised when he discovered a new source for the bad stuff — his customers’ own kids.
Turns out some tweens, teens and even 20 somethings out there are writing about private family matters on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, and also sharing their pain on blogs. And they’re naming names.“We’ve seen discussions by kids of parents’ incomes,” he says. For example, ‘Dad makes $75,000 per year’. They also write about their parents’ relationships, “‘Mom and Dad are fighting pretty hard tonight’, of career news ‘Mom didn’t get the promotion she wanted’; and even social habits or qualities, ‘Dad is such a d–k,’ or ‘Dad is a friggin’ alcoholic.’”
Parents shouldn’t be too surprised that their children are sharing this stuff on the Web. Kids have always had to vent about family issues to their friends, but before the Internet, conversations were kept out of the public forum, for the most part.
Fertik’s advice: Talk to your kids and check out their FaceBook accounts now. “Let them know whatever they write is a tattoo that can stain them and you (the parent), possibly forever,” he adds.
We’ve all been so worried lately that our kids may end up writing something about themselves, or sharing suggestive photos of themselves on social networking sites that could end up hurting them when they go out into the job market. None of us thought about what they may be writing about us.
Is there something your kids know that could come back to haunt you?