New York City Wants To Teach Kids How To Not Ruin Their Lives On Facebook

Teenage boy laying on floor working on laptop computer with cell by his side . (Photo by: Universal Education/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Teenage boy laying on floor working on laptop computer with cell by his side . (Photo by: Universal Education/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) wants to make sure teens know how to use social media responsibly.

The DOE recently rolled out a nine-page social media guide for students 13 and older, in an effort to make sure students leave a “smart digital footprint." The guidelines advise students on how to create a preferred digital image, respond to cyberbullying and adjust their social media privacy settings. They also warn students to be cautious of what they post online and to “pause before you post.”

Jane Pook, the DOE’s executive director for digital communication policy and strategy, told The Huffington Post over the phone that demand for the guidelines came from students.

"[Students were telling us] ... we want to know what college admissions officers are looking at," said Pook. "We realized it more than just addressing the children's needs as a middle school student or high school student, this is setting them up for success for their post-high school career."

According to Pook, the guidelines will be supplemented with professional development training for teachers, parents and parent coordinators, informing them how to bring these standards into the classroom and home. Through this training, Pook hopes conversations about the proper way to behave on social media will happen organically in schools.

According to DNAInfo, the guide is based on recommendations from parents, school administrators and students; its release comes after the DOE issued a similar set of instructions in 2012 for department of education employees to follow on social media. In the future, the department hopes to release guidelines for students under the age of 13, according to New York outlet WABC-TV.

"To act like social media doesn't have a place in our classroom is ridiculous," teacher Jennifer Gunn told WABC. "Our kids are using it so why not help them use it in a positive way."

Indeed, a Pew Internet study from May 2013 found eight in 10 online teens between the ages of 12 and 17 are on social media.

The state of New Jersey is also taking steps to educate students about social media use. Earlier this month, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill that would require middle school students to take a course on how to use social media responsibly. The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that if the bill becomes law, students will start taking the course during the 2014 - 2015 school year.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated when social media guidelines were created for Department of Education staff.

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