While social media is a great way to share news with family and friends, students don’t always realize the implications for their ability to secure jobs in the future. Campus administrators have been trying to educate students, especially seniors, about protecting their “personal brand” online for several years. Recently, they’ve been taking steps to protect the campus brand, as reflected in select student posts, as well.
The University of Michigan is the latest school to create a social media policy for student-athletes. Guidelines remind students to make their accounts private and not to post anything they wouldn’t want their family to read in a newspaper. “Most schools have student-athletes sign some form of a Code of Conduct that relates to their offline behavior. In this age of social media, one for online conduct is necessary, as well,” says Kevin DeShazo, founder of Fieldhouse Media, a consulting firm that helps educate student-athletes about social media use.
While policies are a good place to start, it takes education to change the way students will behave online, DeShazo points out. While most social media, especially Twitter, is public—allowing easy monitoring of posts—DeShazo says that policies should be mindful of not infringing on a student’s right to privacy. “The big question many like to raise is in regard to freedom of speech,” he says. While students can say what they want online, they should realize there might be consequences. “Twitter is essentially a global press conference. Appropriate behavior must be stressed and encouraged—again, that comes through education.”