Thursday, July 11, 2013

Social Media Etiquette: What's That All About?

Upon hearing a story about a student who tweeted obscene messages without knowing these tweets could be seen by, say, his teacher, it made it me think back to my first experiences with social media.  Did I understand legal and social internet etiquette when I first started using MySpace and Facebook?  I don't remember reading any manuals.  Where did I learn this and who did I learn this from?  These are important questions to address as I enter into a world with teenagers whose lives are on the internet for all to see, including me.  

I think back to a 10th grade english class at Groves High School where my teacher was talking to us about things she had seen on Facebook.  She was asking us if we felt that it was ethical for a teacher to punish a student for something witnessed on social networking sites.  As a 15 year old, I remember thinking "No way!  That's an invasion of privacy!"  But is it?  Clearly, I did not think that anything I posted on Facebook would leave my circle of friends.  Even with privacy settings today, there are still ways for people (employers) to see everything you post.  When you delete something from the internet, it's never really deleted.  I wonder how many 15 year olds today know that.  I also wonder whose job it is to tell them.  

As a future teacher, I do feel it is part of my job to educate students on social "literacy".  I do not feel that this duty should fall directly on the education system, but this also needs to come from home.  This could mean educating parents, as well, on the "do's and dont's" of the internet.  As our world becomes increasingly digital, the socialization that comes out of schooling should be addressed in a digital age.  

Luckily for me, Facebook did not reach the height of its popularity until I was finishing high school.  Meaning, Universities may not have been using this medium as a screening tool for future students.  Also luckily for me, I was "smart" enough not to post pictures of me and my friends engaging in NSFW (not safe for web) activities.  Looking back, knowing not to post such pictures came from my first encounter with Facebook with my parents looking over my shoulder.  My parents were concerned with some of the pictures they saw of my friends and I remember thinking that I would not want them seeing pictures of me like that.  Perhaps it was also the idea that I knew teachers could see what was on Facebook, because that had been addressed in class.  

We are entering an age in which the students we have in our classrooms will have grown up using such websites.  How is their digital literacy different from our own?  How can we incorporate the strengths of such literacy into our instruction, and how can we use deficits as a learning opportunity for social and emotional growth?  I hope to work through some of these questions in order to benefit my students and the society in which they live.  


  1. I share your thoughts about wondering who taught us about social media and how we should act on it. I remember fumbling through figuring out MySpace back in the day! I feel like it's a more recent thing that employers are scouring the web before interviews and accepting applications, so I really wonder how we came to be knowledgeable about our personas we create on all the different technology that has developed over the years.

    I really like the idea of educating parents on internet "dos and don'ts." I think it could even be a learned experience to share with their students so that everyone is more aware of what they post online. And if we decide to implement technology (like a website for homework or something), then both parents and students could use it as a means to keep up with school work. I think there needs to be some more ideas cultivated about this idea! Great post!

  2. Hi Rachael!

    Well said! These questions are definitely ones that need to be addressed as our students become more and more comfortable and involved with technology. I agree that a lot of my safety on the internet came from my parents or other older mentors that were teaching me, I think some of this is because they were on the side of caution with technology in general as so called "digital immigrants." For our future questions, I think it is definitely beneficial to incorporate these types of discussions into future learning.