• Jackson Clark

When Things Go Wrong On Social Media - Something For Schools To Consider

Before jumping headfirst into a social media program, you must be sure to consider the pitfalls of social media usage and where things can and often do, go wrong.

There should be safe and secure frameworks for appropriate social media usage for both staff and students both during and outside of school hours. Beyond applying common sense, many staff members, teachers, and students are sometimes only vaguely aware (and often completely unaware) of a school’s policies surrounding social media.

Common sense can undoubtedly go a long way in helping people stay out of trouble, but training should be provided to teachers and other staff about responsible social media usage. This does not just include what constitutes right from wrong – but general digital upskilling and the development of new techniques to better interact online, engage with families, and take advantage of content creation opportunities.

Leadership must determine and clearly establish where the boundaries lie with social media with staff and students, both as a promotional tool and for general usage. Sometimes these boundaries may not be as straightforward as it seems.

Let’s consider a teacher who is a family friend of a student and befriended the student on Facebook years before gaining employment at the school. Is this acceptable? Should they have to terminate the social media ‘friendship’? Or be told not to communicate with them online in a public manner?

What happens if a staff member who has access to school social media accounts leaves the school in unsavoury circumstances? How do you best deal with an angry parent who is writing derogatory messages on your school’s public Facebook page or group?

An active social media presence can bring about many unpredictable challenges, and the handling of situations like these will be up to the discretion of the school itself. But it is essential to prepare accordingly for situations like these. Failing to plan can leave the school vulnerable and can result in inappropriate and unthought out responses, which could lead to a public relations nightmare.