Have you examined your school’s social media policy lately? With platforms such as Facebook and Twitter constantly changing—and newer sites like Snapchat, Whisper and AfterSchool emerging in popularity—it is likely your current policy is outdated.
Don’t have a social media policy for your school yet? Yikes! It’s time to create one.
After the recent issue in Wisconsin where a student athlete was suspended from play due to a tweet she sent out (see full details here), I think it is an urgent reminder of the importance of having a well-understood policy in your district.
I want to share several examples of social media policies, but first here are three things to keep in mind when revising or developing your social media policy.
- Encourage (Don’t Scare) Staff – Helping to define the respectful parameters around participating in social media is the goal here. You don’t want to make the policy so difficult to follow that staffers write it off before they even try. Our students are growing up in a digital world. It is very important to teach our young people how social media can be used in a positive, educational way. What better way than using it in school?
- Stress Personal Responsibility – Whether your staff members on are on the clock or not, they represent the school. Here are a few things that are worth restating in your policy.
- Use common sense.
- Be mindful that content you publish will be public for a long time.
- Use your own personal e-mail when setting up profiles.
- Respect the privacy and rights of both colleagues and students.
- Employees are never under any obligation to accept friend or follower requests from any student. However, if you accept one student, it may be recommended to accept all as to avoid favoritism concerns.
- Employees must exercise great care in connecting with students (if it is allowed).
- Employees are responsible for ensuring any relationship and all dialogue with the student is kept professional in nature.
Below are several examples from other school districts. Please remember it is advised to consult legal counsel before adopting any new policy or procedure related to social media.
- Eudora Social Media Board Policy
- Eudora Social Media Guidelines for District Employees
- Waterloo School District Social Media Policy
- NASD Social Media Guidelines for Employees
- Bishop Lynch High School Social Media Policy
- Standard School District Social Media Policy
Still have questions on this topic? I strongly recommend my friend Kristin Magette’s book “Embracing Social Media: A Practical Guide to Manage Risk and Leverage Opportunity.” It is written just for schools and will guide you step by step through the process. You can also reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.