Summer Social Media PSA for Teens & Tweens

Texting by Jhaymesisviphotography from Flickr (Creative Commons License)
Texting by Jhaymesisviphotography from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Summer is officially here! It’s hottest than Hades in Phoenix and the kids are out of school until August. I suspect that a lot of teens and tweens have a lot more free time than during the school year and they might be spending much of it glued to their cell phones and tablets. Here are my recommendations for having a summer without social media-based regrets:

Think before you post.

Think before you text.

Think before you chat.

Think before you tweet.

Think before you snap (a photo).

Think before you shoot (a video).

Think before you send (anything).

Remember, that there is a permanent record of everything post online or send to another person. You never know when someone is going to forward, download, screenshot what you thought was only going out to a small group or contained in a person-to-person communication. What you post or send doesn’t have the same emotional impact when we can’t hear the inflection in your voice or facial expression (especially sarcasm). You never know how a post will be interpreted out of context. What you thought was justified or funny in the moment may have long-term effects for you. (Just ask Justine Sacco – with one tweet she lost her job and appeared to anger the entire planet.)

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These are my two rules of thumb regarding the internet:

  1. Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t put on the front page of the newspaper.
  2. Assume everything you post online will be seen by four people: your best friend, your worst enemy, your boss, and your mother. If you don’t want someone to see what you’re thinking about posting, don’t put it out there.

These rules also apply to emails and text messages.

For anyone who is applying for jobs or college, those decision makers may be looking you up online. You want to be sure that what you post online is congruent with how you present yourself in-person or on paper. You don’t want to appear irresponsible or that you lack good judgement.

I’ve had to read the riot act to a teen who misbehaved online, and I would be happy to do it again if it means I can help prevent someone from posting something they’ll regret later. If you want to chat more about social media dos and don’ts, please contact me or connect with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, or LinkedIn.

9 responses to “Summer Social Media PSA for Teens & Tweens”

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. You’re right when you say there is a permanent record of everything that has been posted or sent. And it really is true that employers look up potential employees on social media. My work does not hire people sometimes solely based on their social media profiles.

  2. It is interesting to learn that there are so many ways that privacy acts are being broken. It is important to keep what you post online in check. I see this becoming a really frequent problem and agree that you should never post anything you would not want on the front page of a newspaper.

  3. Hi Ruth,
    My friend and I have an acquaintance that frequently posts inappropriate and very personal things on her Facebook page. We discuss the suprising nature of her posts among ourselves on a daily basis and I assume other people think similarly. We are concerned about the impact this could potentially have on her career (especially as a fellow member of the legal profession). We are equally concerned how this could come across negatively if we try and discuss it with her. Do you have any suggestions on how to go about telling someone her posts are just not appropriate?

    • Hello CFC,
      It’s sweet that you have concerns and that your want to approach this person appropriately. It sounds like your acquaintance is a law student and an adult, so they are responsible for their actions – including what they post online. If I were going to approach this person, I would probably compliment them on a post I liked and then ask, “Do you ever worry that your posts will hurt your ability to get a job?” and gauge their response. If they say, “The right employer for me won’t care about these posts,” it sounds like they know what they’re doing and accept the consequences of their posts. If they say something like, “Only my friends can see my posts,” I’d be concerned and compelled to tell them that there is not such thing as privacy on the internet.
      I’ve made plenty of posts online that others consider inappropriate, and it’s ok that we have a difference of opinions. I’m willing to own anything I’ve said online in any situation.
      I hope this helps.

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