Social Media Is A Big Part Of Your Digital Tattoo

Social Media Is A Big Part Of Your Digital Tattoo

It used to be that parents would worry about kids sneaking behind their back to get real tattoos, now the concern is more along the lines of digital tattoos. Digital tattoos can be “more permanent” than real tattoos. In our hyper-connected world, within moments of meeting someone new, we can quickly find out their birth town, their spouse’s names, where they ate dinner last night, and what they got last Christmas. Exaggeration? Maybe a little bit, but not by much.

What Is A Digital Tattoo?

A digital tattoo is a person’s digital “footprint” or digital identity. Just like a tattoo, anything we post online stays there forever. Generally speaking, it’s one of the first things that a potential employer will check about a person. It’s also becoming one of the items that college admissions officers examine.

Your digital tattoo can tell other people information, such as:

  • Where you’ve been
  • Who you’ve been with
  • Where you’ve wandered
  • Where you’re going
  • What you’re leaving behind

Curious What’s On Your Digital Tattoo?

Find out what your digital tattoo looks like by Googling your own name. See what pops up.

Then ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your digital tattoo a true reflection of you?
  • Is it positive?
  • How could this affect your college life? Your future career? Or your relationships?

How Can You Prevent A “Bad” Digital Tattoo?

While we do focus on tweens and teens at Smart Girl Society and how they can prevent bad digital tattoos, these are valuable lessons for any age. A good basic rule of thumb is to be cautious when posting - anything & everything. If you have something valuable to say, chances are it will still be valuable in a few hours. Don’t react or post something without thinking it through first.

Employers can be discouraged from hiring candidates and colleges can be discouraged from accepting applicants who:

  • Post provocative or inappropriate photographs or information about themselves
  • Post content about them drinking or using drugs
  • Post “gripes” about their previous employer/educators, co-workers, or clients
  • Demonstrate poor communication skills on social media or other online outlets
  • Post racist or discriminatory comments
  • Lie about their qualifications
  • Share confidential information

However, employers can be encouraged to hire candidates and colleges can be encouraged to accept applicants with good digital tattoos, such as those who:

  • Have a profile that provided a good feel for the candidate’s personality and fit within the company or team
  • Have a profile that supported the candidate’s professional qualifications and endorsements
  • Demonstrated creativity
  • Demonstrated solid communication skills
  • Demonstrated a well-rounded personality and life
  • Had other written recommendations, awards, or accolades on their profiles

Parents can help their children make wise choices for positive digital tattoos by making sure teens/tweens understand the full consequences of what can happen and by keeping up with the apps your kids are using and the language they’re messaging in.

We’d also suggest reading our blog post: What Does “Good Digital Citizenship” Look Like For Teens?

Before You “Ink,” Think!

Before you hit “post” on your latest status or picture, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Would I want my future teachers/parents/employers/friends/significant others to see this?
  • Will this information reflect well on me in a year? Five years from now? Ten?
  • Who might be able to view this information? Or purchase this information?
  • Is this a detail of my life that I might want to keep private instead?
  • What conclusions might others draw from this information that I’m posting?

Interested In Hearing More About Digital Tattoos?

In this TEDtalk by Juan Enriquez, he posed the question: “What if Andy Warhol had it wrong, and instead of being famous for 15 minutes, we’re only anonymous for that long?” Then he shared the permanent effects of sharing our personal data digitally.



Smart Girl Society, Inc., is an Omaha-based nonprofit working to educate and inspire Smart & Confident girls, women, & families. Through educational workshops, civil outreach programs, and technology & social media research, we work with girls, parents, & educators to authenticity on social media and in real life. We educate how to remain safe on social media and how to avoid becoming a target of sextortion. We also inspire action for students to focus on their personal brand development, leadership, educational opportunities, and healthy social skills. Interested in learning more? Check us out!