Most students are active users of the Internet, whether via their desktop, laptop, iPad or smartphone. The Internet is a great resource, but it's important for you and your students to be aware of the challenges and issues that can occur online.
As a teacher, you're uniquely positioned to provide valuable guidance and insight for your students around areas related to online safety. We've compiled some tips for you to share with your students about different situations they may encounter online.
What you can do
Founded in 2006, Twitter is a social broadcast network that enables people and organizations to publicly share brief messages instantly around the world. The service can be accessed on the web at Twitter.com, on a wide variety of mobile devices and via text messaging. Available in more than 35 languages, Twitter has more than 200 million monthly active users. Visit www.twitter.com or follow @twitter for more information.
Remember Twitter is a public space
Most of the communication taking place on Twitter is public and viewable to everyone. Since the information posted is public, it can be retweeted on the site by anyone who sees it. If your students want their Tweets only to be available to approved followers, they can protect their Tweets.
Passwords and accounts should never be shared. Remind students that it's important to logout of any websites they logged into on a shared computer. Otherwise, other people may be able to access their personal information.
Keep your account secure
Learning about account security and taking proactive steps to keep your account secure is an important part of online safety. For detailed information read keeping your account secure.
Use online safety to connect with your students
Teens may feel like teachers are disconnected from their perspective or be reluctant to have conversations about online safety. Listen to how your students are using Twitter and take their online relationships seriously. Ask questions and perhaps even brainstorm together to come up with solutions to safety issues they have encountered.
Ask questions like:
- Who are you sharing this information with?
- Can you trust all the people that see the information on your Twitter account?
- How could your Tweet be interpreted?
Communicate and respect personal boundaries
Remind your students that not everyone has the same definition of what is private and what should be shared.
If a student’s friend or connection has posted information they would prefer kept private, suggest students communicate with the person who posted the information and request it to be taken down. Likewise, encourage students to be considerate and honor another person’s request for removal. Students can read this Twitter Support article to learn how to delete a Tweet.
Think before tweeting
As teachers, you know teens say or write things that were not meant to be hurtful but that others found offensive or upsetting. Help teens evaluate whether or not something is okay to post by reminding them that if they wouldn't say it to the person's face, or out loud, they shouldn't say it online.
Students are often not aware that what gets posted online can hurt feelings, affect offline relationships and even jeopardize future college and/or career prospects. The nature of the Internet makes erasing content very difficult. Talking your students through a hypothetical example highlighting this may prove beneficial. Some examples are below:
Student A joins a group of people making fun of Student B’s online photo because they think they’ll never hang-out. A week later, classes are changed and partners assigned for projects. Student A is assigned to work with Student B for 3 weeks.
Student A posts a joke about violence and drugs intended for close friends. Their friend’s family member sees the post and contacts school administrators who investigate and call the police.
Consider the context
Individual Tweets can be confusing when read outside of their intended context. Has your student seen something offensive online? Is the Tweet part of a larger conversation? Here are some tips to help if you see offensive content.
Block and ignore
If a student is receives unwanted Tweets from another user, we generally recommend that he or she block that user and end communication. Ignoring the content shows unwillingness to engage in such interaction, and in most cases, the aggressor loses interest. Blocking the user also empowers the individual by preventing the blocked user from following them. This Twitter Support article explains how to block other users.
When it has gone too far
If the unwanted online behavior is persistent, it may be rooted in "real world" relationships.
If a student is experiencing repetitive cyber-bullying or interpersonal conflicts that are also taking place online, consider taking the following actions.
Involve parents and school administrators
Many issues are likely to be resolved by working with the student’s parents who may not be aware of the situation. Encourage parents to talk about online safety issues that may arise. Responsible use of the Internet should be promoted at both school and home.
For more serious cases, involve the school administrator and be sure to know and communicate your school’s Internet safety policies.
Report a violation
Twitter only removes profiles that are in violation of the Twitter Rules. Please remember that as Twitter is a social broadcast network rather than a content provider, and we do not mediate disputes between users.
For more information, check out these resources: