When using social media, how can teachers protect themselves from damaging their career, or worse, losing their job?
We could talk forever about the various steps teachers can take to protect themselves online and to ultimately ensure they can enjoy using social media safely and responsibly. But we know teachers are a busy bunch, so @DigitalSisters have boiled their top tips down to three key points to consider if you are active on social media.
Research shows that 75% of teachers feel nervous that at any point a student, parent or even the media could interrogate their social media accounts to find something to use against them.
In our experience, students have some nifty ways of finding you on social media. A quick search for your full name on Facebook is the obvious method. But we’re seeing increasingly savvy tactics being used in schools – we recently worked at a school where a student had set up a fake Facebook account for a teacher (who wasn’t on Facebook) and then sent ‘Friend Request’ to other teachers in the school. When those teachers unknowingly accepted this ‘Friend Request’, the convinning student trawled through their ‘timelines’ for embarrassing pictures and comments, then printed them off for the entire school to see!
If you want to make it tricky to be discovered in search on social media, you can always use nicknames as your profile name or mix your real name up a bit (i.e. use your first and middle name but not your last name). But this isn’t for everyone, so if you really want to protect yourself, get to grips with your security settings. Here’s a guide on how to do this across the most popular networks:
Secondly, you need to make sure your account cannot be hacked. Once someone has hacked into your profile, they have access to all of your private information! It’s almost impossible to ensure you’re 100% protected from a hack, but making sure you don’t click on suspicious links (see example tweet below), or share your password with anyone is one of the more obvious ways you can protect yourself.
Teachers often come unstuck when it comes to security because they have weak passwords for their social media accounts. You know what we’re talking about – ‘Password1’ and your birthday and the like! Google has some pretty handy tips on how to create a secure password. Click here to see the full article.
We’ve all seen the articles in the media with teachers dressed up in drag on their social media accounts or posting something which could be seen to be politically incorrect or inappropriate. A rise in recent digital trends like revenge porn have only fuelled such opportunities.
This is embarrassing for teachers on a personal level, but it also compromises the reputation of the school, not to mention the fact that teachers should be setting an example for their students; we should practice what we preach! Just as we say to students, assume that everything you post on social media could be discovered and shared by someone, someday …
… we say exactly the same to teachers.
Image: The Guardian
Here are a few things to consider when it comes to managing your reputation online:
- The school’s social media policy. At many schools it says within the e-safety or social media policy that staff are not allowed to state on their social media profiles that they work at that school. This is one way schools can protect themselves from being associated with staff members who behave inappropriately on social media. Check the policy if you’re a teacher, and if you’re responsible for managing the policy you might want to consider adding this clause.
- Getting tagged in dodgy content. You might have the cleanest digital footprint in the world, and then your old friend from university kindly tags you in a picture from 1998 of you with your head down a toilet! Most social media networks give you the option to approve tagged content before it appears on your timeline. For example, this is called ‘Timeline Review’ on Facebook and this is how it works. Why not consider adjusting your settings?
- Engaging with inappropriate content. Before you get trigger happy when it comes to ‘retweeting’ tweets that look like they could be interesting or giving a ‘thumbs up’ to Facebook posts that look like they could be insightful, you might want to click on any links contained within those posts and vet them first. The final trip-up we see in schools, happens when teachers have engaged with a piece of content without realising that had they read the entire blog post or the articles that are attached to it, they would have discovered it was inappropriate or worse, offensive! It may look intriguing in 140 characters, but the commentary behind the full post could get you in trouble, worst still the link could be attached to a virus …
Post written by Emma and Charlotte Robertson; follow them on Twitter at @DigitalSisters.
Digital Awareness UK Co-Founders Emma and Charlotte Robertson will be delivering their inspirational ‘Selfies, Sexting & Snapchat: Today’s Top E-Safety Trends’ talk at The BETT Show on The BETT Futures Stage, Wednesday 20th January at 11.45am. Click here to find out more.
Digital Awareness UK is the UK’s leading social media safety organisation, offering inspirational e-safety student and parent workshops and CPD for staff. To find out more about what they do, visit www.digitalawarenessuk.com or catch up with them at The BETT Show this month.