Online social networks follow you everywhere. However, for some reason, it isn’t easy to get this notion across to students who often don’t consider much beyond the present moment. Here are a few ways you can help young students understand the lasting impact a post to a social network can have on their lives.
Social networks consist of a much smaller number of friends, family and people you know than people you don’t know. Once you hit share, your post goes out to your network, your network’s network, and so on. Remind students that if they wouldn’t share information with a stranger on the street, they shouldn’t share it online.
Person to Person
Often, online social networks give students courage they don’t have in face-to-face settings. But sometimes that courage can lead to very negative consequences. Encourage your students to refrain from any posts they wouldn’t say to a person’s face.
Feelings & Emotions
Everyone has their feelings hurt at some point. Turning to social networks to lash out is never a good idea. Online social networks are not outlets for anger. Offer your students alternative ways that are safer and more private.
Clear as Day
There’s often no way to decipher tone, which can mean something said with sarcasm can be serious. And once that plays out, a person is left apologizing for something that wasn’t intended. Help students understand that they should think through what could be perceived from their post before they post it.
Posts to social networks are fair game for evidence in police reports and court cases. And once a post is out there for the world to see, no matter how many times you delete it or your account, the post might never go away. Tell your students about the real-life stories where teenagers had serious consequences for their actions on social networks.
Students need to understand that as fun as social networks can be if misused, all the fun goes out the door. Teach them about setting boundaries for themselves. As part of learning how to be good digital citizens, share with students how to be responsible users of online social networks because all it takes is one irresponsible post for life to change in ways never imagined.