Should Teens Get a Do-over Card for Their Inappropriate Social Posts?












I spoke at the Women in Technology Conference at the University of Arkansas recently with Amy Callahan, the founder of Collective Bias. We talked about social media, its networking power and the importance of building your personal brand. At the end we solicited questions and one young woman wanted to basically know how she could build her personal brand on top of her college one in light of having posted some things she was apparently not all that proud of.

This is a hot topic with me as I’ve been trying to instill in my children who are young adults. It’s very important you be your own personal filter and watch what you post online. I’m not having a great amount of success so far. I tell them that future employers will do a search on them of both their written words and the images. I tell them whatever they post online gives a glimpse to future behavior, their sense of maturity and critical thinking. Syracuse is a party school, as are many campuses so you can just imagine what happens on campus. Drunken selfies with one’s tongue hanging out is nothing an employer wants to view.

In 2015 California will forgive teens and allow them to erase their pasts.

California just passed a law which will come into effect in March of 2015 that forces companies to allow teens to delete any posts that might hurt their chances for employment. Voila! Instantly they can have a fresh start at laying down their social footprint and thought leadership.

Is this fair?

Should teens be forgiven in light of their immaturity? Should we blame it on dopamine? In adolescence, the prefrontal cortex is still developing–it’s the last part of the brain to develop and is crucial for understanding the minds of others, flexibility response, and self-awareness. The judgment part of the brain, that apparently tells a teen to stop and not do something stupid, is not developed. During the teenage years, they experience huge shifts in dopamine levels known as the “happiness chemical.” Dopamine is a neurochemical that is a pleasure chemical. The human brain is a pleasure-seeking organ but combine an immature prefrontal cortex with an increase in dopamine and you can see how it increases a teen’s susceptibility to drugs, fast driving, alcohol and other behavior that pump up their dopamine levels.

And if teens get a do-over, shouldn’t everyone be able to delete posts that might hurt their employment?
We are all human, after all, and have make mistakes.

Photo: “Punish Forgive Keys” by Stuart Miles

One Response to “Should Teens Get a Do-over Card for Their Inappropriate Social Posts?”

  1. This is a tough one. On one hand, teens need to learn the consequences of their actions. And to your point, if teens get to erase the past, why not everyone else? On the other hand, something really stupid done as a 15 year old shouldn’t haunt the child forever IF he or she has matured – but that’s the question, because some don’t and in that case do not deserve to have their pasts wiped out.

    Bicultural Mama

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