For children as soon as they reach their tweens and teenage years they have a reputation or even to some extent personal brand – at least within their own social circle.
When a child’s reputation is tarnished it can cause great lasting psychological damage. What do we do to protect a child’s reputation? Well, first and foremost we need to explain to them what a reputation is – children don’t even understand that there’s a reputation for them to protect, and that prevention is always better than cure – rather than getting into a situation of reputation management or crisis management and having to dig out from there. Explain the power of reputation to them with good examples, citing the sports stars, musicians, artists, or celebrities and how they represent themselves has an impact on their life, happiness, career and family members.
Help them by checking Google Alert – go to https://www.google.co.za/alerts and register their name as a keyword – Google will send you a list of links to articles where that name pops up.
If they make mistakes, rather than punish them use it as an opportunity to teach them, explaining the mistakes that they might be making online, give them examples, and solutions, and explained slowly and carefully how it is best they can improve their behaviours online. Be clear and specific. If you’re unsure, contact us at MSL.
In terms of a website, social platform, or cell phone company – whomever it may be that is hosting harmful information – you have to try to limit the exposure, by making contact and asking for it to be taken down, in all the places that it may have appeared, deleting that page or record. BUT, don’t hold your breath, one of the best antidotes to crisis management it is to start building positive behaviours and assets in its place. One can write blogs, build websites, create positive messages or productions, such as video or art or music or perform charity work to replace an old story with a new one. It takes time because Google takes time to register the new content and file it higher and higher but it is possible…
In the words of Warren Buffet, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you will do things differently…”