Build and Protect Your Online Presence

Having an active presence on social media can be an easy and fun way to connect with friends near and far. It is also an opportunity for you to create a personal brand and a community that represents who you are and what your values are. Here are some guidelines that I suggest for parents and young people to use when you’re ready to build an online community.

Build and Protect Your Online Presence

Safe Online Community

An online community can be a Facebook group, members of a website, a private message group on any social media channel, a group who uses and follows one hashtag, etc. Building an online community enables the group to mobilize to take action for positive change offline.

Create a Safe Internet for Yourself (and, parents, for your kids)

  • Kids, just like in real life – don’t talk to strangers online. Keep your accounts private.
  • Never expose personal data on the web (address, phone number, etc.).
  • Parents, talk to your kids about rules for using the internet – utilize parental controls.
  • Update and guard your passwords.
  • Ensure your devices are protected from malware.

Connect With Real People

  • Engage with your community regularly especially if you’re building a community who you’d like to help you take action for your cause or message.
  • They have to know you care beyond your ask for help.
  • It’s okay to ‘friend’ and follow people you know or want to know better. It’s not okay to stalk. Respect others’ privacy, too.
  • There’s saying: “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” It’s the same thing on the online. The people that you follow says something about you.

Bring Value and Educate Your Community

  • In order to begin to build a community, you have to hold their attention.
  • If you really want to make a difference, stay focused on your message.
  • Teach your community something new on a regular basis.
  • Share resources and don’t be afraid to be the expert.
  • Remember that you have a unique perspective. Back it up with facts and you become valuable.

Communicate Responsibly

  • Follow the Golden Rule online, too.
  • Whatever you post online doesn’t go away. Never assume that. You never know who is looking. It could be future coaches, teachers, recruiters and employers – people who could make decisions about your future.
  • Verify sources of the news/stories before sharing links online. Stop the spreading of fake news.
  • Report bullying and inappropriate content. When you see it, report it. If it’s happening to you, tell someone and get help.
  • Choose to make a positive difference.

Digital Safety Resources

Google has developed a great curriculum and guide on How to be Internet Awesome. There are resources, games, and information about how to stay safe online. Check it out and bookmark it as a reference.

Parents, you can visit the Family Online Safety Institute’s Good Digital Parenting community for more resources and blog posts.