Imagine your friend Preston comes up to you in school looking for some advice. Last night, he posted some pictures from a wild party and is now facing serious backlash online. Can you provide him with the right information while taking into consideration the permanence of your digital profile?
[[Preston: "Hey friend, can we talk?"]]You: "I know you are afraid of getting in trouble for those pictures, however bullying is a serious issue that sometimes needs to be addressed by an adult. Now something to keep in mind for the future is the kind of message about yourself and your actions that you convey with your pictures.
Preston: "Ok, so what do you mean by that?"
You: "It is important to keep in mind that the internet is a public place, even with privacy settings. It is critical that your online image is presentable and reflects who you are as a person. Posting things like partying or illegal actions such as drinking underage could affect the way others see you in the future. After all, the internet is forever.
Preston: "Why does it matter what others think of me in the future?"
[[You: "Future employers might think twice about hiring you"]]
[[You: "If you don't have cooler party pics you might not get invited to parties in college"]]You: "Sure Preston, what's up?"
Preston: "Well, last night I went to this party at María's house, and things were so lit! We were all having a great time, laughing and dancing, so I took some pics of the action. Jared flicked off the camera, and Lena handed me a wine cooler just to hold for the pictures, but don't worry, I didn't have any. Everything was great until I woke up the next morning and saw the comments. Katie Rae and her minions posted a ton of mean comments on the pics, like "ew, who would invite such a loser to that party?" and "I don't care how many wine coolers you drink, he's still a dork lol". What should I do?
[[You: "First, let's talk about Katie Rae and her actions"]]
[[You: "Are you crazy?! I told you not to go to that party!"]]If your friend is trying to seek advice about a problem they are having, especially with bullying, do you really think that playing the "I told you so" act will actually help them? You might want to consider sharing your wisdom with Preston.
[[You: "First, let's talk about Katie Rae and her actions"]]You: "You know what Preston, I think Katie Rae's actions are very petty, and you are a much stronger person than that. Try to ignore her mean comments. However, if they continue and it gets to be too much to handle, definitely tell an adult. Cyberbullying still counts as bullying, and similar consequences will apply for them in the end."
Preston: "Yeah, but if I told an adult, then they would see those pictures of me at the party, looking like I was doing things I shouldn't have. One way, I face Katie Rae and her evil antics and another I risk getting grounded majorly by my parents."
[[You: "About that, we need to talk about those pics"]]Do you really think this is true? Isn't there a bigger purpose to college than simply going to parties (i.e. earning a degree)?
[[You: "Future employers might think twice about hiring you"]]<img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nDQWhHUzUA8/UxTWQu8rm6I/AAAAAAAAAgg/7SOaQCoD3Qo/s1600/cb5714d42348c16b2579e8183bb230d3.jpg" >
(Shannon Long, 2012)
You: "Make sure to always think before you post! You would be surprised how easy it is to post something you'll regret later if you don't think enough about it first. Ask yourself if you are ok with other adults and possible employers/admissions offices seeing, and if you can answer yes, then go ahead and post. If you don't want these people to see this content, you probably shouldn't make the post."
Preston: "Ok, well that addresses what I should do in the future, but how should I handle the post I already made?"
You: "Consider deleting it! All the associated comments should also be deleted in the process. However, nothing you delete is ever completely gone from the internet, so always be cautious when posting. Instead of posting for the benefit of your peers, try posting things that could benefit your image in the future, such as school leadership opportunities, mission/service trips, and even family vacations. Social media has the power to not only harm your image, but also to help it as well!"
Preston: "Wow, that was a lot to take in. Thanks for your help, I'll be sure to take down the post when I get home and think twice about posting. See you in class!"
You: "See you later, Preston!"
[[Epilogue]]Preston's current actions are what landed him in this situation. Isn't there something he could do in the future to make things better?
[[You: "Think before you post!"]]In this scenario, you spoke to your good friend Preston about how to be careful when creating a digital identity while online. Sometimes, your digital identity will be an employer's or an admission's office first impression of you, so be sure to post only the things you are proud to share with others.
Another thing: cyber-bullying is a growing issue as students increasingly post their lives on social media. Even though these comments are posted online, they are still harmful to the individual and often face the same if not more severe consequences than regular bullying.
"Harrasment, and/or hazing, by any means whatsoever, including via electronic media; Minimum of short-term suspension of 10 days or less to maximum of expulsion." -(2017-2018 Student Code of Conduct)
In short, be very careful of what you post on social media. Make sure to use it as a tool to showcase uplifting and important achievements in your life. Only make posts that you are ok with everyone seeing and be conscious of the messages conveyed about your beliefs through the posts you share. Thanks for reading!
[[source page]]Here are the sources mentioned throughout this tutorial today:
2017-2018 Student Code of Conduct and Related Notices. Stafford County Public Schools, 5 Sept. 2017, https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://www.staffordschools.net//cms/lib/VA01818723/Centricity/Domain/3322/2017-2018+Code+of+Conduct+MERGED+FINAL+07+31+17.pdf. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018.
Long, Shannon. "Before you Facebook, TXT, Tweet, or Blog.... THINK." Technology Rocks Seriously, 24 Jan. 2012. http://www.technologyrocksseriously.com/2012/01/before-you-facebook-txt-tweet-or-blog.html#.Wp8HYpPwa1s.
Salm, Lauren. "70% of Employers are snooping candidates' social media profiles." Career Builder, 15 June 2017, https://www.careerbuilder.com/advice/social-media-survey-2017. Accessed 6 Mar 2018.
"What Kids Can Do." Stopbullying.gov, 28 Sept. 2017, https://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/what-you-can-do/index.html. Accessed 6 Mar 2018.
Created by Heather Taylor on March 6, 2018You: "Ever since social media has become a critical part of our lives and self-image, employers are starting to use internet profiles to research their job applicants further. If for example you went up against another person with a spotless Facebook page full of family pics and school activities, while yours boasted parties and illegal activities, you may be passed over for the job opportunity. Even posts from years back could influence their opinions of you, especially if they demonstrate undesireable qualities in an employee (lack of responsability, disobedience, and vulgar language use)."
(Be sure to look at this site for more information: https://www.careerbuilder.com/advice/social-media-survey-2017)
Preston: "So my actions now could affect my chances of getting a job later?"
You: "Absolutely! Maybe even affect getting into college. College admissions run similar evaluations on their applicants."
Preston: "Really?! I wanted to go to medical school! Wow, I'm really in a mess now. What should I do?"
[[You: "Think before you post!"]]
[[You: "Ignore it and keep doing what you're doing"]]Do you really think "getting even" will solve anything? This could actually make the situation much worse. Katie Rae is using social media as a weapon, should you?
[[You: "Try to ignore it"]]You remember reading all about cyberbullying at the following site:
You: "What Katie Rae and her friends are doing is clearly cyberbullying. She is picking on her peers online and using social media as a weapon."
Preston: "Ok, so what should I do?"
[[You: "Get even and post mean comments back! She deserves it!"]]
[[You: "Try to ignore it"]]