A new generation is growing up in the public eye. They may not be celebrities as we know them, but every aspect of their lives may nonetheless be open to scrutiny, now and for years to come.
For employers, there will be an increasing temptation to review a candidate's online profile in the course of a recruitment process. Social media provides a digital diary of thoughts, comments, friends and photos. It can show who we were as much as who we are. However, it is essential to consider if a candidate's digital footprint will affect their ability to perform the role they are applying for and how relevant their profile actually is.
Senior roles may require more robust scrutiny into a candidate's personal as well as professional public profile, but any role which may attract the attention of the public or the press should be treated carefully, with basic checks being standard policy. The tale of youth police commissioner Paris Brown is an obvious example.
That is not to say that privacy should be invaded. By its nature, online postings are often public. Applicants should check their own accounts and privacy settings if there is any potential for future embarrassment and employers should encourage employees to make regular checks of their own privacy settings. If it is intended for a private audience, precautions should be taken to ensure it stages that way.
Calls have been made to release young people from their recorded indiscretions, opinions and misdemeanours recorded to social media prior to their 18th birthday, but is the ability to wipe the slate clean the best way to teach our youth? It is also down to employers to think about the standards they set, but not at the cost of missing out on the best new recruits.
Social media is a massive global publicity engine, and fundamentally a positive force, but it also has unpleasant elements. We should not forget that technology and social media businesses are also digital natives with some growing up to do.