This week, we read “What Do You Do When You See Inappropriate Social Media Posts?” by Patrick Larkin on EdTechTeacher.org. This article summarizes an experience a teacher had when he came across an inappropriate post by a student. The student uses profanity, and comments that he hopes whoever made some movie would die.
This article reminds me of an earlier read this semester, “How To Keep Your College Admission Offer: Start with Digital Literacy” in the New York Times, by Luvvie Ajayi. The two articles take a similar approach to explaining the reason social media posts like this can be so damaging. Even though students are young, inexperienced, and often immature (like we have all been at one time growing up), these kinds of comments are often permanently “there” for the world to use in judgement of their character. I feel fortunate to have spent my immature years in the more private world of the 80s.
Image by Marco Verch on Flickr
Larkin writes a letter to the student’s principal, pointing out the pitfalls of these public displays of impulsivity, and asking not that the student is punished, but only that the situation be used as something from which the student can learn. I feel this approach is right on the dot, and I think I would do the same if I found myself in a similar situation. Students do not need to be judged for being juvenile or impudent, as that is part of growing up. However, they do need to understand the consequences of online indiscretions.
As Larkin and Ajayi point out, many universities, employers, and other organizations may use public information available on the internet to research potential students, employees, interns, volunteers, etc… As educators, it’s our job to help our students understand how social media can leave a permanent image in cyberspace, and that image can have a serious effect on their futures.
Image from blogtreprenuer on Flickr
Because it is our job to help our students understand this, we must also keep ourselves proficient in the use of social media and its benefits and pitfalls. Like our students, we can use media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to follow and learn about new innovations in education and other passions. Through these media we and our students can expose ourselves to global leaders, innovators, and new ideas on a daily basis. These platforms also offer us the chance to lead the way and take risks we never thought possible!