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Students and Social Media: Parental “Awareness” Advised

I envy my history colleagues who are at least teaching something that isn’t changing anymore, let alone something that is constantly changing. Teaching social media is an ever-changing job. No two semesters are the same, and it’s tough to find a textbook that isn’t outdated by the time it’s printed. Since social media is so vast, it is hard to be an expert. Those who tell you that they are social media gurus are kidding not only you, but also themselves. So how do we, as parents, wrap our minds around this ever-changing technology? Well, I thought I would take a minute to highlight five must-know facts about the use of social media. No matter how many points resonate with you and your student, take time to have a discussion about how your student is using social media.

The Internet Lives Forever

It might seem funny now, but when it is time to interview for that internship or first job, the picture of the student doing a keg stand sends a very different message than the student who is hanging out smiling with friends in their dorm room. Students have told me before that they have their privacy settings set so that only their “close” friends can see it. However, sometimes that close friend comments, and now their friends (read: professors, potential employers, said friend’s grandparents) can see the post too. Not exactly whom you had in mind, right?

Geotagging Can Be Dangerous

While it is fun to check in on social media platforms, it can be downright dangerous. Geotagging is where you tag your location within the social media post. The danger lies in knowing exactly where and when you are in that location. By simply monitoring social media platforms for a few days, stalkers are able to pinpoint your exact location, down to the latitude and longitude on a map. This could alert strangers to your home or school or simply tell them when you are away on vacation.

Learn About Social Media Tools

It is tough as a parent to keep up with everything that is going on with your child when they are at school. Social media can be a way to keep up with your student without bugging them every minute. So, do you have a Facebook or Twitter account? Have you looked into Vine or Snapchat? If you don’t have accounts on Facebook or Twitter, I’d suggest you get both. Never heard of Vine or Snapchat? Maybe having an account isn’t necessary, but at least knowing what the tools are that students around the globe are using would put you in the know.

You’ll Never Get Back That Time

In case you never use the tools, social media can suck up time that you never get back. This becomes a concern when the student has other homework to work on but instead has wasted the last two hours pursuing YouTube videos and checking out their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Although social media tools can be helpful and useful, limitations should be set in order to use time wisely when interacting with these social tools.

Monitor

As a parent, one of the biggest favors you can do for your student is help monitor their social media accounts. A suggestion would be to set a Google Alert for your child’s name (if it’s not too common). Anytime anything about your child is posted for the public to see, you get an alert to your email of choice. By monitoring, you not only are checking on aforementioned points, but also are privy to information that the rest of the world is seeing. Results for your child could range from offering guidance into better choices or praise for the carefulness taken on social media.

Now you know the basics. Do you have all the answers? Of course not – none of us do. But at least we’re better prepared to talk to our students about our social media tools that we use every day. Hopefully, one of these five highlighted points can be taken into consideration before the rules change… yet again!

Dr. Alisa Agozzino