How parents can help children choose their ‘digital tattoo’

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Teens today are exposed to digital media everywhere they go, and most are always carrying it with them.

“Social media isn’t part of their life, it is their life. These are the digital natives. They have grown up with this device in their hand,” said Anne Deeter Gallaher, CEO and owner of the Deeter Gallaher Group.

Deeter Gallaher helps companies create their online profiles and says parents can apply the same knowledge to their teens because what they post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others could make or break their future.

It’s called a digital tattoo.

“A digital tattoo is on for life. It’s all the content that you create,” Deeter Gallaher said.

“As parents, we just have to make sure our children understand the potential for creating a negative reputation for yourself.”

Deeter Gallaher said if teens are using social media, their parents should be using it, too.

“You will understand the environment. They are sharing content in what are other teens talking about, tweeting about, posting, Instagramming, what are the hashtags they are using. You won be a guru, but you will be a better parent and better informed.”

“It’s overwhelming because the kids know more than you do,” said Kathy Anderson-Martin, a mother of two teen girls who use social media.

“I’ve been amazed, overwhelmed, shocked by what kids are putting on those site and what is being said; fake sites, fake posts,” she said.

What teens post now could affect their future employment and college scholarships.

“Penn State, they will go thru an individual’s social media channels, and based on those – either the undisciplined nature of the content or inappropriateness – decide do we want to bring them on the team or do we not want to deliver a scholarship to him or her,” Deeter Gallaher said. “It has serious consequences.”

Parents should be sure to check text messages, too.

“Seventy-five percent of them are texting as their major form of communication, so the parents, we have to educate ourselves, and that begins with a very simple Google search and understanding what those acronyms are in their text messages,” Deeter Gallaher said.

A Google search turned up the following text codes:

Sex:

– IWSN: I want sex now;

– GNOC: Get naked on camera;

– WTTP: Want to trade pictures?

Drugs:

– 420: Marijuana;

– CID: Acid, LSD;

– DOC: Drug of choice

Parents:

– PIR: Parent in room;

– 99: Parent gone;

– KPC: Keeping parents clueless.

“You have to do your best to stay on top of it, just like you would anything else to protect your kids and their future,” Deeter Gallaher said.

So, the next time your teen wants to post something on social media, they should ask themselves this question:

“Are you OK with that being on the front page of the Wall Street Journal? If you are, click send,” Deeter Gallaher said.

Deeter Gallaher suggested parents set up a Google alert with their child’s name. That way, if their name starts trending in a conversation, the parent will get an alert.

Related Links:

Cool Mom Tech: 99 texting acronyms and phrases that every parent should know

Criminal Defense Lawyer: Teen Sexting in Pennsylvania

USA Today: Thousands of Snapchat pics leaked online

Quizlet: Texting Vocabulary

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