Most students are active users of the Internet, whether via their desktop, laptop, iPad or smartphone. While the Internet is an invaluable resource, it’s critical for you and your students to be aware of challenges and issues that can arise online.
As an educator, you're uniquely positioned to provide valuable guidance and insight for your students regarding 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 288 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 viewable to everyone. Since the information posted is public, it can be retweeted on the site by anyone who sees it. While Tweets can be protected so only approved followers can see them, most users share their Tweets with everyone. If students want their Tweets to only 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 believe that teachers misunderstand their perspective or are reluctant to discuss online safety. Listen to how your students are using Twitter and take their online relationships seriously.
For instance, individual Tweets can be confusing when read outside of their intended context. Ask questions and perhaps even brainstorm together to come up with solutions to safety issues they have encountered, whether it’s a strategy for their own Tweets or how to react to potentially offensive content:
- With whom are you sharing this information?
- Can you trust all the people that see the information on your Twitter account?
- How might your Tweet be interpreted?
- Is the Tweet part of a larger conversation?
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 be kept private, suggest that students communicate with the person who posted the information and request that it 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.
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:
As teachers, you’re well aware that teens say or write things that are not intended to be hurtful, but that others find offensive or upsetting. Fortunately, you’re in a position to help teens evaluate whether or not something is acceptable to post by reminding them that if they wouldn't say it to a person's face or out loud, they shouldn't say it online.
Students are often unaware that what they post online can hurt another person’s feelings, affect offline relationships, and even jeopardize future college or career prospects. The nature of the Internet makes erasing content increasingly difficult, a reason why you might consider walking your students through a few examples such as these:
- 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 three weeks.
- Student C posts a joke about violence and drugs intended for close friends. His or her friend’s family member sees the post and contacts school administrators, who investigate and then call the police.
- Student D is tagged in several compromising photos without adjusting privacy settings properly. Two years later, an admissions officer evaluating his or her college application stumbles upon the photos and related comments. The application is immediately rejected.
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. This Twitter Support article explains how to block other users.
When Matters Have 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
Get to know the Twitter Rules. If you believe an account is violating our rules, you or your child can file a report.
Twitter only removes profiles that are in violation of the Twitter Rules. Please remember, Twitter is a social broadcast network rather than a content provider and we do not mediate disputes between users.
Contact Local Law Enforcement or Legal Representation
If something has gone beyond the point of a personal conflict and has turned into credible threats, whether it be online or offline, you should contact your local authorities as they are in the best position to assess the threat and intervene or assist as necessary.
If contacted by law enforcement directly, we can work with them and provide the necessary information for their investigation of your issue. You can point local law enforcement to our Guidelines for Law Enforcement.
If you feel the issues are legal in nature, please seek advice from a lawyer. Twitter cannot offer any legal advice, nor can we provide other users' information except as required by valid legal process.