Things students should never do on social media
The last thing young people want is another set of rules. But these days, social media comes with great responsibility, whether you-'re just starting...
The last thing young people want is another set of rules. But these days, social media comes with great responsibility, whether you're just starting high school or finishing up college. There are certain social media mistakes that students should avoid at all costs, because after all, it's never as simple as "be responsible." And it's never as finite as "don't friend your teacher on Facebook." Social media circumstances are nuanced and vary by situation, school and user.
1. Post Illegal Activities
Granted, high school and college students experiment with many activities and substances. But the second you post a video of last weekend's bong hit or trash-can tipping adventure, you become vulnerable not only for school expulsion but also for criminal prosecution; in other words, consequences that affect the rest of your life. Even if your profile is set to private, a friend can always download and save incriminating photos that he or the authorities can use against you in the future.
Bullying is one of the most serious problems in schools today. Vicious treatment and hateful words between students often lead to violence, suicide, depression and discrimination among the student body. When a student turns to social media, blogs or virtually any online space as a forum for hurtful speech, the risks are unmeasurable. Not only does that student face expulsion, but also serious criminal prosecution.
3. Trash Your Teachers
Bullying doesn't just apply to student-to-student interactions. Students who speak poorly of their teachers (or post embarrassing photos of them) run a huge risk, too. After all, your instructors have a right to privacy and respect. "Posting a negative comment about any teacher at your school is like getting on a microphone to announce that you will be burning down a bridge," says Heather Starr Fiedler, associate professor of multimedia at Point Park University. "You never know which one of your professors will hold the keys to the next great internship or job announcement."
4. Post Objectionable Content From School Computers or Networks
Many schools prohibit all computer activity on campus not directly related to coursework. That almost always includes social media use, especially that which is objectionable (e.g. profanity, harassment, etc.). And don't assume you can get away with a tweet here and a status update there — many schools have implemented systems that track logins and IP addresses. In other words, you're on the clock.
5. Post Confidential Information
This piece of advice goes for every social media user, not just students. But young people are especially vulnerable to online predators and identity thieves. Let this experience, from communications representative Jennifer Newman Galluzzo, be a warning: "This weekend my niece, who is going into her junior year of high school, posted her class schedule on Facebook.
Took a picture of it and threw it right up there because she was so excited to share the info with her friends — complete with her social security number, student ID, address, full name, birthday and all the other personal information. I called her mom and informed her right away and her response was 'Well, all the kids do that!' I almost fainted."
6. Overly Specific Location Check-Ins
Similar to protecting your identity, try not to get too specific with your social check-ins. Although your parents may appreciate the heads-up, posts like these make it easy for predators to locate you. And especially don't check in on social media when you're by yourself and/or in a remote location. Social media analyst Brad Hines advises, "It is usually wise to do little sharing of where you are if you are by yourself, or have left your home by itself."
Picture this: You convinced your professor to give you an extension on your term paper so you can visit your "sick" grandmother. Only instead, you blow off the paper to attend a Foo Fighters concert — and you post a status update to Facebook, check in on Foursquare and upload a photo of the performance to Instagram. Don't be surprised when you return to a big fat F and an academic investigation.
8. Threaten Violence
Threatening a person or group of people in any situation is unbelievably serious. Even posting an anonymous, empty threat to an obscure online forum full of strangers will raise red flags. And as soon as authorities have located a threat, they have the right to investigate — and they will.
A student named Alexander Song posted his intentions to Reddit: to "kill enough people to make it to national news." Police located the young man and arrested him at school, despite the fact that he carried no weapons. In other words, social media is not the place to vent your frustrations and violent thoughts. Talk to a school counselor about your concerns.
9. Ignore School-Specific Policies
School policies vary widely, according to religious affiliation, type of school (public vs. private), geographical location, district, gender (co-ed vs. single-gender), etc. Therefore, technology and social media policies are different for nearly every school. Behavior that may fly at one school is reason for expulsion at another.
10. Unprofessional Public Profiles
Whether you're a high school student applying to flip burgers at a local diner or a recent college grad looking to land a career, your social media presence needs to reflect responsibility. "While searching for a job, I made sure to take down any questionable photos from my college days," says recent James Madison University graduate, Christine Borkowski. "I took every red cup I could spot off my Facebook. It may seem a little extreme, but Facebook offers the 'Download' option of each photo." That way, she could save any photo she removed from the social network.