Most online services offer some safety features that can help users to manage access to age-inappropriate content, report concerns or protect privacy.

What is my online reputation?

Your online reputation is the perception, estimation and opinion that is formed when you are encountered online. This could be when someone visits your social networking profile, but could also be when anyone reads a comment you posted on another profile. It could also be when someone sees your online photo albums or an image with you in it, indeed any instance or reference of you that either you posted or someone else did – what your digital footprint says about you.

Your online reputation will be formed through:

  • Posts by you
  • Posts by others but about you or linked to you
  • Posts by others pretending to be you

Who does it affect?

Everyone! Obviously it applies to those who post online, however as other people could be posting information about you, you don’t even have to have been on the internet before to have an online reputation! Rory Cellan-Jones commented on a survey conducted by AVG which concluded that 23% of unborn children already have a digital footprint.

Why is online reputation important?

Many businesses and celebrities value their online identity and reputation and go to extraordinary lengths to protect it, in many cases taking legal action.

This clip produced by the BBC in collaboration with Garlik, outlines the types of information available online and how it can be pieced together.

Your reputation should be important to you as it is a tool that others could and will use to make decisions about you. Clearly this could have a dramatic effect on your personal and professional lives, especially if your digital footprint is poor. Would you like a potential partner or employer to decide whether to see you or not purely based on your digital footprint? Media headlines regularly appear, such as “Disgrace of the six drinking, pole-dancing primary school teachers who published the pictures on Facebook”.

What does your profile picture or avatar say about you?

How is your online reputation different?

Remember that the internet never forgets – when you post something online it will always be there.

Resources for foster carers, adoptive parents and social workers

In the UK the Safer Internet Centre have created leaflets for foster carers and adoptive parents to use. The leaflets are free, easy to download and print and they include top tips and conversation starters.

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