Watching What You Say Online: Teaching Social Media Circumspection

5 years ago

Some people are more circumspect than others while they're online, thinking before they post.  While they'd love to upload that incredibly amusing photograph of them drunk on Spring Break, they think about potential future employers viewing it and their posting finger stops twitching.  Or they may leave their office fuming about their boss, but they give themselves time to calm down before taking to the Internet to let loose a string of curse words.

But that doesn't mean that your friends are being as thoughtful as you are on your Facebook wall.

It didn't take long for the need for social media monitoring to rise.  For instance, NetworkClean is a site that monitors your social media presence and makes sure nothing too embarrassing or incriminating is going on.  Their about page states,

NetworkClean is a free social network monitoring service which protects and scans both your personal and business Facebook pages, plus alerts you instantly to inappropriate content, privacy concerns, security issues and more.  You will receive alerts for inappropriate content, based on your scan settings, and are able to remove this content instantly to protect your online reputation.

Some of its features seem redundant with what is already provided by Facebook.  You can have custom alerts sent to you whenever a certain person writes about you.  But those notifications already come to your inbox when people write on your wall.  Other features seem valuable -- such as the scanning of your account for privacy concerns.

But the real question is why social media protection isn't being taught in schools the same way we impart other valuable life information?  Teenagers aren't known for having the forethought to consider how their very searchable online profile may look years down the road, and not all parents are tech-savvy enough to know how to help their children make good decisions.  Knowing what to say and what not to say online is a necessary life skill, one that can affect future employment or relationships.

A good place to start in reverse engineering a class like this would be to look at the features NetworkClean scans for and explain to students why posting any of these things may not be advisable, especially since things seem to not only live forever on the Internet but have a tendency to take on a life of their own.

Do you think social media circumspection should be a required class in high schools?

Photo Credit: Teens on Cell Phone via Shutterstock.

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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