Traditionally as students come back to school, it is important to establish a positive classroom culture. Today, more and more districts are following the lead of places like New York City where schools are empowered to support students in the responsible use of cell phones and social media. That means that not only must we support the establishment of a positive classroom and school culture, but we must also ensure our students are engaging positively and responsibly as digital citizens. While students are all familiar with the “social” aspect of social media, teachers have an important new role. That is to help students consider the “power” of social media for academic and career success. If our students want to run for office, run a business, or change the way things are run where you live, work, or play they must be savvy in the use of social media.
Not only is effective and responsible use of social media important in our student's day to-day-lives, but it is especially important for students pursuing college, internships, or careers. Social media is the public identity that our students are sharing with the world and the world of college recruiters and human resource personnel are watching closely.
That's why as we head back to school this year, it is important that teachers ensure that what students are sharing will get them positive results.
1. Be deliberate
A story is out there about you online. Make sure it is the story you want told. You can start by creating profiles in the biggies: LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Next create profiles on About.me and Flavors.me. Tag flattering pictures and videos. Untag those that are not so flattering. Finally, make your digital resume on LinkedIn.
2. Be informed
Know what the internet says about you. Start by Googling yourself, but don’t end there. Do a Zaba Search and Spokeo yourself. Use analysis tools such as Brand Yourself to see how you represent yourself across social media. Make sure you know how much Kred or Klout you have online.
3. Be Ahead
Use your savvy to use the latest social media techniques in the best way possible. Remember that there are new forms of media every day and you want to not only be up-to-date, but ahead of the game to enhance your digital profile. Social media expert Sree Sreenivasan advocates for you to always make your posts “blue” by using links, tagging relevant parties, using hashtags, and attaching images to your posts. This is one way of getting ahead of the game and sharing more effectively. Check out Sree Tips for more on how you can stay ahead.
4. Be thoughtful
Be thoughtful in what you share and consider how it would appear to potential colleges, employers, friends and family. A good self-check is to ask yourself the following questions: “Is this really worth posting?” and “Is this something I want stamped on my record?”
5. Be wise
Show your best side online and share what you care about with the world by making knowledgeable contributions in places like Facebook, Twitter, and comments on blogs and articles.
6. Be appropriate
Be aware of appropriate communication to specific audiences. When communicating for academic purposes i.e. with teachers or peers in school-related work, use proper grammar and spelling (not texting lingo). Even when communicating for personal reasons, consider who might see what you are posting and your best foot(print) forward.
7. Be kind
Think of your online contributions as a way to promote goodwill. Before you write online think about if your post will help others. If your post could be seen as hurtful or embarrassing, reconsider sharing publicly.
8. Be yourself
Don’t use a silly name or alias. Use your real name and be accountable for what you say. This will help others get to know the you, you are proud of and the you they want to have as a part of their team, office, school, etc.
9. Be aware
Be aware of the intentions of those you interact with online. If someone makes you uncomfortable, you don’t need to respond. You might consider blocking or reporting them or even printing out what is troubling and speaking with a trusted friend, family member or staff at your school or place of work. Likewise, it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between joking and bullying. It is always important to be respectful of how others may react, because you cannot know how they feel. You might ask yourself: If the person said the exact same thing to YOU in front of your friends, how would you feel?
10. Be upstanding
If you notice someone is not being treated well online don’t stand by. Instead, reach out to him or her and let them know you are there for them. If this person is a part of the school community, check with your school guidance counselor or safety agent about who you might talk to. Most schools have a person designated to handle issues of bullying and harassment.
Whether face-to-face or online, you are responsible for your image. What you do or say in any platform can lead you on the road to failure or success. Keeping these ten tips in mind will keep you ahead of the game when it comes to success in college, career, and citizenship.
Note: A version of this was created for the Student Voice.