Social media is now used by some university admissions departments to screen applicants for admittance. In addition,  some employers are also using social media to perform background checks as part of their hiring process. For these reasons, it is more important than ever for high school students to realize the impacts of their online activities and how to be good digital citizens.

Students who may not have parents/family members who are well-versed when it comes to using technology and specifically social media will need some guidance to not only avoid potential pitfalls of social media but to take advantage of the benefits it offer as well.  Educating these students may have to fall on the responsibilities of the same pre-college academic preparation professionals who are now educating them about the college application process, financial aid and meeting college requirements.  High schools themselves will also need to be involved in the effort . For college prep professionals and high schools to be able to educate the students require: 1) that they themselves are knowledgeable about social media, including the benefits and risks involved, 2) this new responsibility should formally included in the employees’ job descriptions and 3) the high schools are open to embracing this idea that social media provides benefits to their students and they will have to weigh this within the constraints of policies such as the Children’s Internet Protection Act, security concerns, bureaucracies, lack of resources, and most significantly, cultures that are hesitant to the use of social media.

Pre-college academic prep units who are interested in including social media education for high school students as part of the services they offer should look into existing resources such as the Digital Citizenship website, programs such as the Digital Citizenship and Creative Content program and existing high school curriculums for guidance. They should also look at how to make this effort sustainable, given the resources required. If you have experience or know of resources related to this effort, I would love to hear from you.

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