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If you’ve been following CNN’s latest hire Eric Erickson, and the impact it’s having on the network, you know that what you write online will affect you forever.

This is just the latest incident that shows once again your past can catch up with you in the online world. Whether through email, a blog, or your Facebook account, the item will remain online, and have the ability to come back and haunt you at any time.

Which is why I was surprised recently as I found a large group of parents talking about Facebook and their children. A number of parents stated, “being a friend on their child’s Facebook account was like reading their diary – no way, no how”. Really? idea cloud

When my daughter turned 13 and decided she wanted a Facebook account, I was her first friend. As a 13 year old, we can talk and talk, but that occasional 13 year old attitude kicks in once in awhile and who knows what she would write. So as a friend of hers, I know she’s constantly thinking, “mom can see this”. And I mention things once in awhile as well. “I saw Amy went skiing, did she have fun?” I’m always letting her know I’m protecting her, and making sure she keeps herself safe online. That’s what a mom does.

My daughter also has a diary – it’s tucked up on her bookshelf in her room. She’s the only one who reads it, and she loves writing her hopes and dreams in it. I agree with parents on one issue – I would never read her diary. That’s hers to write about anything she chooses.

The difference is her diary will always belong to her, no one but her will read it, and it will never have an impact on her life unless she chooses to do something with it.

If she writes something on Facebook, it could impact her getting into a college, or landing her “dream” job. It could impact her relationships over the next few decades, and be found and used against her in any shape and form – for the rest of her life.

To me, that’s a huge difference.

It doesn’t matter if you’re protecting your child, or protecting your own image. You have to make a choice when you head online.

You should always be asking, “How would this impact me 5 years from now?”

Think before you write