How schools can stay safe whilst using social media

Danny Bermant

Danny is the Founder and Director of Brainstorm Digital who provide social media training to help schools attract more students and enhance their reputation.

Follow @Brainstormdsgn

Website: www.brainstormdesignltd.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Is fear of abuse preventing you from using social media in your school? Are you unsure of what safeguards you can put in place to protect your pupils?

When social media was little more than a tool for socialising, schools could get away with avoiding it. Not any longer. Whether it’s buying a new product, doing business with someone, recruiting a member of staff, or learning a new skill, social media will usually play a part. In fact, social media has become a new form of literacy.

So how do you encourage social media without placing your school at risk?

Here are the steps your school should take before bringing social media into the classroom.

1. Before posting anything on the internet, those tasked with the school’s internet presence should agree on what they actually want to share about the school on the internet.  They also need to be aware of some basic safety requirements:

  • Parental/Guardian permission is always required before any pupils can be featured in name, picture, videos or in reference to a piece of their work on the internet, as posted by the school.
  • Where photos of pupils are displayed on social media channels, there should be no names included in the captions as this could place a particular student at risk.
  • Whilst it’s ok to interact with pupils on public channels e.g. school related Twitter account, school related Facebook page, it’s not ok to communicate with pupils via any personal accounts. Any requests from pupils to connect via a personal account should be ignored.

2. To ensure that staff members understand all the implications of internet safety, schools should set up and distribute their own internet and social media guidelines. This should typically cover issues such as:

  • Tone of voice to be used (e.g. serious/playful/non-aggressive etc)
  • How frequently staff should post
  • Where to source content from
  • How complaints are dealt with and how quickly
  • Acceptable contact with pupils and parents
  • Infringement of copyright
  • Avoiding conflicts of interest
  • Rectifying mistakes e.g. giving out the wrong information
  • Disclosing confidential information
  • Not damaging the reputation of your school

This should be publicly advertised as it will reassure parents, as well as staff. By giving them detailed information on what is safe and what is not safe, you’ll help to empower them to adopt social media in their classroom. An example of such a policy can be seen here:
 www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html.

3. Schools also need to make staff aware that different social media platforms have their own additional security settings which can be activated on all official pages or accounts.

On Facebook, for example, you can control via the permissions settings what content can be posted to a school’s page. The obvious areas for restriction are limiting the ability of your audience to post photos and videos on your wall. If you’re unsure of how restrictive you should be, then the safest bet is to be draconian to begin with, limiting most commentary and to remove the restrictions slowly as you feel more comfortable in trusting those who view your page. This is easy to do and it comes across better if a school is seen to become more permissive than more restrictive. In the long run, preventing visitors from posting comments on your page defeats the whole purpose of Facebook.

Unlike personal Facebook pages, neither fans nor administrators should be able to tag a person’s picture as this could put them at risk.

Facebook also has the capability to block certain people, language or other unwanted content. You can for example set up a list of words of phrases that cannot be mentioned on a Facebook page. Facebook has an email notification system so that your administrator is aware ASAP of any posts or comments made on their Facebook page.

If you're managing a Twitter account for the school, you similarly have the ability to be notified whenever someone mentions the school. If you receive malicious or inappropriate messages from other users, you have the ability to block their account or report them for spam or abusive behaviour.

Internet safety will always be a primary concern for schools but this should not scare you away from social media. Provided you set out clear guidelines for your staff, stick to public social media channels, and have security settings that protect your pupils, you will soon wonder how you managed without it!

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now
Login

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"