Why Social Media Guidance Is Important

Social media web sites have become a global information network that undoubtedly has many benefits. However, with this increased exposure, it is vital to make sure our students are wise and remain safe as they post information online. It is best to advise students not to post information about themselves online that they would not want the whole world to know.

This is especially important when students are applying to college. Negative or inappropriate posts may be seen by admission officers and affect an admissions decision. Students must realize that many people may see their posts including teachers, employers, and college admission officers.

Some college admission representatives (and employers), will research students online to see if there is data available to help make an admission decision. Once data is online, it stays online. Even when something is deleted, it may stay on another's computer.

Colleges post current information and chat with students across social media web sites. Independent Educational Consultants (IECs) as well as parents and school counselors need to stay educated on the best way to use Web sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr, so they can advise their students about potential problems and perhaps increase their chances of admission.

Chat rooms, blogs, e-mails, and instant messaging are other factors where students need to be aware of appropriate measures. For example, a student's screen name should be a name that is not their name, which can be used to identify them. However, an e-mail address can reflect a student's name, as they will be easily identified when communicating with colleges. In addition to being smart online to increase chances of being admitted into colleges and obtaining a job, there are security risks when using the Internet and social media web sites. With escalating viral networking, those guiding students should include information for taking extreme precaution and remaining safe online in their programs for students.

Here are a few tips:
• Suggest that students join sites where they can keep their information private and restrict access based on approval.
• Have students make sure that only information they are comfortable revealing is posted. Have them be extremely careful; about posting personal information such as their full name, address, phone number, social security number or any bank or credit card information.
• Provide suggestions on appropriate postings and remind them to monitor what they post regarding the name of their school, club, or sports team, as sometimes people can be identified using this information.
• Suggest that students do not post their photo online. Pictures can be altered and used in unacceptable ways.
• Reiterate safety and remind students not to make friends with strangers online unless they know the resource. People may not always be honest about who they really are.
Students should communicate with their parents--ask questions and tell them what they are doing online. Advise on the use of privacy settings, creating strong passwords, and remind your students to be skeptical about things they read online.

Digital communication continues to escalate. It is the responsibility of those guiding students, to offer the best advice for navigating social media safely and productively.

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