How to Stay Social Online Without Risking Your Job

Social networking sites allow you to create a profile about yourself that you can share with others. Profiles include personal information and interests, plus educational and professional information. What you share online can build up your reputation and your profession, but it can also tear down your professionalism and become a detriment to your career and employment status. Take a look at some quick guidelines on what to share on social media as an educator.

1. Keep your accounts private.
Be aware that users can search for you by anything in your profile (your employer, university, etc.). Control who sees your page. Set your privacy settings so only “friends” can review your information. Stay away from sites that cannot be closed to the public. Do not grant access to parents or students under the age of 18 to your account. Implement a rule that students can follow or friend you once they graduate. On Twitter, you may have to block students from following you. Here’s how to set your Instagram account to private.

2. Monitor comments that are posted to your accounts.
Delete any replies that contain inappropriate language or content. If someone “tags” you in an inappropriate photograph, remove the tag and ask the person to take the photo down. On Facebook, disable the Google search function.

3. Keep your posts appropriate and professional.
Never post negative information about your students or school administrators. This includes information that can easily identify a student or administrator. Never post anything offensive, vulgar, illegal, immoral, or highly controversial.

4. Networking is good. Stick to professional online groups.
Do not associate with or join online groups may be considered unprofessional or inappropriate, and leave any such group that you are already a member of.

5. Never post unprofessional, compromising photos of yourself. Especially be aware of what you post in your profile picture. Your profile picture should never show alcohol, drugs, or anything that can be misconstrued as a gang sign.

6. Do not geo-tag your posts from or about school.
This will lead students and parents right to your posts.

7. Never post photos of children.
You will need parental permission for each child in the picture or video. Even if you have parental permission for every child pictured, never tag the location of the photo. Associating children online with a particular school and/or location violates their privacy.

8. Never complain about your job online.
You never know who may see your posts and report them to other co-workers or school administrators.

9. Never display bullying, harassing, or abusive behavior online.
Aside from the fact that this could easily get you fired, you are a role model for the students that you serve and displaying such behavior online will set the wrong example.

10. Know your school, county, and state’s social media guidelines for employees.
There may already be rules set in place by your employer regarding status updates, profile pictures, and more.