If you search the Web for your name, what will pop up?
Langston Middle School guidance counselor Emily Jindra, principal Chris Frank, and Oberlin school resource officer Billie Neadham talked to students recently about their “digital footprints” — the way comments and images students post online or share with friends can affect them or others, and how kids can protect themselves.
Jindra told the middle-schoolers their generation lives in a digital world, and one day employers and colleges will google their names.
Neadham said he interviewed for a job a couple of years ago and the potential employer asked what social media accounts he had and the password to each account.
“If you wouldn’t say it to a stranger standing next to you in line at the store, don’t post it on social media,” Jindra said. “Once it leaves you and goes to someone else or the Internet you don’t control it anymore.”
She said even if you go on social media to vent and then delete it, someone could have taken a picture of the post. “There is no true delete,” Jindra said.
Even if you delete data from your phone, the phone company still has records and police can search them, Neadham said.
“Look at how much trouble Johnny Manziel has gotten into” due to videos and photos posted online, Jindra said.
The guidance counselor explained how every time someone posts anything online, their IP address — a trail leading back to your computer — can be tracked.
Frank said the school district is not responsible for students outside of educational hours, but if a student post causes a fight at school it becomes his issue. “The school is responsible for you the minute you step on the grounds until you leave,” he said.
Jindra encouraged students to think before they post anything online or send it to a friend.
Neadham, Frank, and Jindra said they are talking to students about their digital footprints because they do not want them to post or share something that will stay with them forever and possibly affect their futures. “Don’t send something you wouldn’t send to your mom or even grandma,” Frank said.
Other tips given to students: Don’t share your social media account passwords with anyone except parents. Don’t share personal information such as your location or phone number with anyone on the Internet because it could be a stranger.
If middle-schoolers experience cyber-bullying, Frank instructed them to tell a parent, block the offender, and go to the police, a teacher, or any adult they trust.
“Doing nothing is not going to help you,” he said.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Oberlin school resource officer Billie Neadham and Langston Middle School guidance counselor Emily Jindra talk to students about the effects of sharing information with friends and posting comments or photos online.