With little fanfare, at the start of this school year New York City’s Department of Education issued a new set of social media guidelines for students. The eight-page document is a valiant effort, and clearly shows a student-first attitude on the part of the DOE. In the first paragraph of the introduction, the Department makes its goal clear:
“The New York City Department of Education (DOE) works to provide all students with access to an education that prepares them to succeed in college and careers. Part of being a successful citizen is understanding that social media and digital communication are essential parts of our world today.”
Stress a positive online image – The guidelines lead off with the idea of building an online image that will further higher education and employment goals. We like the fact that they don’t start our warning about the negatives of online activity.
Emphasis on family involvement – Parents are often in the dark about what kids are doing online. The guidelines urge students to keep their parents up to speed on what they are doing and solicit input. Also, this nugget is very forward-thinking, “you may know more about social media than your family, so you may also want to show your parents and other family members how to create an online presence themselves.” We can’t stress enough the fact that parents have to be involved in raising good digital citizens. Schools alone can’t get this done.
Bystander effect – The guidelines not only address what a student should do if cyberbullied, but also clearly calls out students to report incidents if other students are being bullied.
We understand, due to cyberbullying and other abuses, that schools need to be involved to some extent in students’ social media activity, especially as it impacts student wellbeing and keeping order in classrooms. Stressing the positive aspects of social media and strongly urging parental involvement are laudable efforts.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.