Nearly half of young people are worried about a social media post embarrassing them in the future.
That’s according to new independent research from the CIPR Education and Skills Group.
The survey of 15-22 year olds across the UK looked at attitudes towards social media and how young people thought it could affect their future.
Young people tended to be very aware of the term digital footprint (87%). Despite this, over two-thirds of respondents said they had removed posts which they had made or which were about them, 49% said they were worried about something they’d posted embarrassing them in the future and 10% said they were worried sick about it.
The majority worried most about their Mum seeing their social media activity.
Just less than half (48%) worried about employers seeing their posts. Although 70% said they thought prospective employers, colleges and universities would check out their online presence before offering them a job. 14% said they knew someone who had been rejected on that basis. Nearly 20% said they were worried or very worried that their online reputation could affect their future prospects.
35% said they were not really aware of privacy settings when they first started using social media and 76% said young people needed to be made more aware of the potential consequences from their digital footprint.
Commenting on the research, Chair of CIPR Education & Skills Group, Simon Butt-Bethlendy said: “Considering the younger generation are digital natives, it would be natural to assume that they are savvy about using social media sites. However, our research shows this is far from reality with young people writing posts they later go on to regret.
As social media grows and different channels emerge, it will become increasingly important to manage our reputations online. It takes seconds to search for someone online and find a wealth of information – all of which can be used to make a judgement of character.
Young people must start to become realistic about the impact social media can have on their future. We all need to take responsibility in helping with this, whether as schools, universities, parents or employers of young people.”
Miranda Thomas, Associate Director, Communications Management
CIPR Education and Skills Committee
Simon Butt-Bethlendy Chair, CIPR Education and Skills Committee