Colleges are watching, what do your kids post?

Tech Talk Tuesday #71: Colleges are watching, what do your kids post?

Last week, Harvard rescinded the acceptances of 10 incoming freshmen for posting racist, sexually offensive material in a Facebook messaging group titled “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens.” As intense as the consequence may seem, this is an important reminder that nothing on the web is private, even private chat groups. 
 
A person is responsible for what they post, a lesson our kids and teens might not always appreciate. According to a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center, 88% of teens surveyed believe that people share too much information about themselves on social media. I am definitely going to ask my teens what they feel is too much information.  Also, 75% of teens said they either “frequently” or “occasionally" see people “stirring up drama on social media.” That is a lot of posts and messages that are all about drama! 
 
We know it is popular for teens to have a main Instagram account and then a separate one, that is thought to be private, for closer friends--called a Finsta account. This is a great time to talk about these alternative accounts. Are they really as private as one might think? For some, they create a supportive small group so I would start with the positive—why might a person want a Finstagram? 
 
In talking with younger kids I learned a cool analogy from a teacher I met while doing screenings in Hong Kong. He tells his 1st-grade students to think of the web as the ocean and when you are in it, how important it is to wear your swimsuit. 
 
The action taken by Harvard is a great way to remind your teens about what they choose to post on social media. The students involved probably had no idea their posts would be seen by anyone but themselves, they were in a private chat. But “private chat” is a misnomer. These kids are the cream of the crop, and they didn’t have the wisdom to keep inappropriate messages out of the conversation.  
 
For this week’s TTT, let's talk about posts and privacy. Below are some questions. These discussions work best when adults share their experiences and observations--not just asking youth about their experiences. We are all in this together.
** A little tip, I generally print out the TTT to bring to the dinner table since we do not use tech during dinner. 

  • What are the pros and cons of more private groups within social media platforms, like private chats and Finstagram accounts?
  • Have you seen friends overshare or stir up drama?
  • What do you think is appropriate and inappropriate to post online?
  • What are your thoughts about Harvard’s decision?