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Responsible Social Networking

posted Oct 4, 2013, 8:31 AM by   [ updated Oct 4, 2013, 8:31 AM ]
This year, our 8th Graders are turning 13.  Not only does this mark the start of their teen years, but it also is the cutoff age for many social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Today the 8th Graders discussed social networks, how they work, and how students can navigate them safely.  First, we took a survey to find out what social networks our students are using.

Most of the "Others" were the 5 students who were not on any social network.  

Next, we viewed a few student profiles online.  Some of them were surprised that they could be found.  Following was a wide-ranging discussion about reasonable precautions and possible consequences for social networking online.  Here were the key ideas:
  • Know how to find the privacy settings on any site you join.  Make sure you know exactly who can see what about you.
  • Keep passwords private.  There are many reasons why people might want to share passwords, but it is a trust that should be granted very carefully, if at all.
  • Even if you limit posts to just a few friends, treat anything you post online as public.  If you wouldn't be okay with the world seeing it, you shouldn't post it.
  • Be wary of other people's posts about you and remember that the things your friends post reflect on you. 
  • Remember that anything you put online is permanent!  It's like a digital tattoo that can follow you for years.
We also realized that students can build positive social networking presences. Schools and businesses check applicants online activity to find out who they are. Most people assume that your instagram or twitter feed will be full of bad behavior, but it can also show that you are a conscientious, hardworking student with diverse interests over the course of many years. As long as you think carefully about what you want your social network activity to say, it can be turned to your advantage.