Fort Worth, Texas,
11:02 AM

'The virtual world' - Your digital footprint lasts forever

The lasting impact of a viral video

Nine seconds.

It took that long to outrage a country from what was seen and heard by members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma chanting a racial epithet on a bus.

While the video shows that we haven’t progressed as far as most of us would like as a society, it also proves once again that our children need to learn the life-changing consequences of going viral.

Jody S. Hawkins, Information Systems Security Officer at Cook Children’s, gives a presentation to children called, “The Virtual World.” He explains the permanence of everything we post to the Internet.

“Like a face tattoo, the things your child posts to the Internet in public forums could be discoverable by potential college recruiters, employers or those out to paint your child’s character in a negative way,” Hawkins said. “What does your child aspire to be when he or she grows up? Are the things your children are doing on the Internet today going to have a negative impact on that career choice?”

Considering the speed of today’s technology, it’s important for kids to understand that everything they do is permanent, even if it’s been deleted. Thanks to screen shots, a careless text message can be frozen in time and put on social networking sites, forever subject to public scrutiny.

Hawkins recommends parents talk with their kids and express the need for self-control when they interact with others, even when they aren’t speaking face-to-face. Explain the importance of cooling off before sending that angry text message, commenting on a blog or posting an aggressive Facebook status. And if someone is doing something inappropriate, walk away or don’t participate. Everyone has a recording device in their hands these days.

A study from the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Market Research found that 21 percent of college admissions offices research their applicants via social media sites. An offensive blog post could overrule a stellar SAT score and change a university’s admission invitation.

“Kids don’t think about the harms they could be causing themselves,” Hawkins said. “They tend to have this, ‘Look ma, no hands’ mentality while we watch them and freak out. But those split second decisions can have forever consequences.”

About the source

Jody S. Hawkins, Information Systems Security Officer, has been in technology for medical facilities since early 2000 and has been practicing for more than 20 years with his start in the United States Air Force. He is a part of Cook Children's Experts on Call Speakers Bureau. Hawkins specializes in privacy and technology safety and is a regular speaker at the National HIT/HIPAA Conference. He has been quoted and published in several national publications, including Health Information Management Magazine.

Hawkins' can speak on a variety of security topics facing our children & parents today, including:

  • Social media
  • Cyber bullying
  • Sexting
  • Safety online (Parents & Child)
  • General home networking security
  • Virtual Child (Parents)
  • Internet Safety (Parents & Child)
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