Our youth are often taken to task about being alert and aware of online predators and to be mindful of how much they share online. It is reasonable to assume that adults may be more aware but even the smartest person at times gets caught. Educators love fashion, great deals, catching up and sharing with family and friends. We are in no way exempt from being susceptible to talented online piranhas or to making the mistake of over-sharing.
The advent of social media has been lauded for its positives. It helps us to maintain contact, inexpensively and easily with friends, acquaintances, loved ones and business associates. It allows for quick communication. Another benefit is that of access to real time information and updates from wherever one may be in the world. Technology has allowed us to interact with far more people than we would usually.
Social media is also utilised by many businesses as an online promotional marketing tool because a lot more people have access to the information. It is used as a research tool to quantify consumer exposure, spending trends and interests among other things. This is often done through seemingly ‘innocent’ questions as to what one is doing, with whom and where. Many request telephone numbers and alternate email addresses. Our desire for connection and attention online has become so addictive that some of us now have to set up a password collector/storage application on our cell-phones/laptops/online in order to remember how to log into some of our social network accounts.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to share. It is however, important that educators understand that online…the assumption should be that the entire world is watching.
Photographs: We all like to chronicle the moments so as to share with our network of ‘trusted’ contacts. There are even ways to ‘protect’ your photos online by making adjustments to your privacy settings on your social network page. Despite this, there are some photos that just do not belong online for others to see. When contemplating what photographs to share online, educators should think about their school and home community. Is there anyone on your contacts list that might find your candid or deliberate pose offensive? Is it possible for them to share your photo after you posted it? Do you want them to share your photo after you posted? Will your photo create problems for you within your school and home community? If you feel the slightest tinge of doubt, it may be best to keep your personal pictorial moments private. This is not to say that you should screen everyone on your contact list or not post pictures of just be yourself. The point is to remember that some persons may find it amusing while others may not. A ‘silly’ photograph is not worth your job, peace of mind or losing the respect of colleagues who may misinterpret what your photograph means.
Rants:“Oh, the injustice!” It is so easy to vent when one is having a bad day. Sometimes our snide remarks provide a feeling of relief and unburdening from a presumed act of injustice committed against us. Keep in mind that once an emotional rant is placed online, you stand the chance of having at least ten people seeing it before you come to your senses and delete it. Some computer savvy persons will immediately take a screenshot of it and save it for their personal use. Educators, at all costs, avoid putting emotional rants, vents and snide remarks on your social network page…especially if it involves work. Everyone and everything is connected and that bit of public emotional frustration could come back to haunt you.
Too Much Information: The rule of proffering up too much information dictates that you tell yourself first that somebody really cares. So what if you got a new Ipad and then ten minutes later you head to the store to buy a pink case? So what if after that you ran into ‘this’ person and had a delicious smoothie? Enjoy your moments. Stop offering a timeline of your movements for online predators to track you with. In offering too much information you are guilty of over-sharing and can become a punch line among friends, colleagues and others. It would not be so amusing if on your sick day you over-share about going to the mall or movies with friends. It happens!
Know It All: Yes, educators are fortunate to have a wealth of knowledge on given topics. If you are to be honest with yourself, no one knows it all. Also, no one truly enjoys friendship with someone who ALWAYS knows what is best. If someone asks for your advice in an online forum, send them a private message in response. That way you prevent others from judging your comments, constantly harassing you for advice and criticizing what you have to say. Some people take pleasure in saying ‘you are wrong!’ and social media is where they will come out blazing. Do you really need that kind of attention after a long day of work?
Social media has many positives and when used responsibly it allows for effective results. It is easy to get caught up in sharing personal aspects of one’s life. It is easy to believe that everyone else is doing it so it is OK to vent and be crass when things do not go your way. You have no direct way of knowing how many people have seen your rants, condescending criticisms and images that were intended for particular persons. Social media is about sharing, maintaining contacts, keeping abreast of what’s happening and learning as you go along. Everything is connected…be socially responsible.