Vocabulary consequences: the results of an action psychology: the study of the mind and human behavior impulses: sudden urges to do something applicants: people who apply for a job or other position reputation: how someone is judged by others
Scholastic Action | September 22, 2014
Rude texts. Embarrassing pictures. Mean tweets. Many teens don’t think before they post. And the messes they make could follow them for years to come. Swish! Star basketball player Pat Welch and his team won the championship game on March 25, 2014. Pat, then a high school senior in New Hampshire, was exhilarated—and he unthinkingly tweeted at the other team, using profanity. Pat deleted the inappropriate post 10 minutes later: “I regretted sending it,” he remembers. “I knew it was wrong.” However, the damage was done: The post was retweeted, and after Pat’s coaches and principal saw it, Pat was stripped of his Player of the Year award and banned from future all-star games.
PAges 4-5: Sean McCabe
Making Mistakes Before social media gained popularity, Pat might have simply shouted his comment after the game: Only the people in his immediate vicinity would’ve heard it, and it would probably have been forgotten. But statements
made on Facebook, Instagram, and other sites can reach thousands of people instantly. According to a recent study, 95 percent of all U.S. residents ages 12 to 17 spend time online—and 80 percent of them visit social media sites. Like Pat, many of those teenagers post without considering the consequences. Teenagers get into online trouble for two reasons, according to psychology professor Larry Rosen: They’re more comfortable commenting online than they are in face-to-face situations, and the part of a teen’s brain that controls impulses isn’t completely developed yet.
Teen in Trouble Sarah, 14, learned her lesson the hard way: In April, this teenager from the Netherlands jokingly tweeted American Airlines, pretending to be a terrorist
www.scholastic.com/actionmag | September 22, 2014
and threatening to do something “really big.” American Airlines didn’t appreciate Sarah’s humor: It tracked her down and sent her information to the FBI. Sarah panicked: When she’d tweeted American Airlines, she hadn’t expected to be identified. “I’m sorry, I’m scared now,” Sarah tweeted—but she was arrested and questioned by the police. Although she was ultimately released, her prank became a permanent part of her digital footprint—the trail of
personal information that you leave online.
Online Résumé Your digital footprint stays with you forever. Colleges and future employers often investigate applicants using social media sites—and if your digital footprint shows irresponsible behavior, you’ll probably be denied the position or the spot in college. Michael Fertik, who started a company that helps people sanitize their digital footprints, offers
this advice: “Today, Google acts as your résumé. That’s your reputation.” Google your name: The first 10 links that appear are what colleges and employers will peruse for information about you. To help you pause before posting, experts recommend thinking about your grandmother: If you wouldn’t want her to see that photo you’re about to share, reconsider posting it.
If you do make a regrettable decision online, don’t despair: What The “eraser law,” passed would in California last year, Grandma says that as of 2015, think? websites must remove a teen’s Tip 1: Think about your online activity if he grandma. If you wouldn’t or she requests it. want her to see it, don’t post However, photos or it. Remember, once something is comments posted on online, you can’t take it back! other people’s pages can’t be deleted, so Tip 2: Don’t think that you can hide behind a conscientious posting fake name. There are ways for people to find out remains the safest policy. who you are. Pat definitely learned from his experience: “I’m really sorry about Tip 3: If you see a bullying post, don’t respond to what I said,” he declares. it or forward it. De-friend or block the sender. “It’s something that will never happen again.” His Tip 4: Take control of your privacy by adjusting your advice: “Think about your settings on social media sites. (But friends can re-post words before you put them your comments. So don’t ignore the other tips!) out there.” —Nicole Tocco