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Social media guidelines for early childhood education instructors

From Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Instagram, social media is a prevalent component of daily life for the average American. According to Statista, 81 percent of the U.S. population had a social media profile in 2017, as compared to only 24 percent in 2008. Which means that chances are, you're probably reading this article after checking one of your profiles - or you plan to log on shortly after you finish. 

Though an increasing number of schools and districts are adopting social media policies for teachers in their employ, sometimes the line between appropriate and inappropriate social media behavior isn't black and white. The following are a few things to consider before you start posting on your favorite site.  

The power of social media
Today, social media is used in powerful ways in education. Students participate in study groups on Google+, parent organizations create Facebook groups to organize events, and teachers can receive Twitter updates from some of the foremost authorities in the academic field. 

Some educators use social media to connect with students and parents outside the classroom, and that is where things can sometimes become tricky.  

As an early childhood educator, you likely don't need to deal with friend requests from students. After all, most preschoolers don't have their own social media presence. But that doesn't mean that you won't have difficult decisions to make when it comes to your online activity. 

While social media is a useful tool, it also can provide challenges for teachers.  While social media is a useful tool, it also can provide challenges for teachers.

Social media for educators
Despite the benefits offered by social media, it leaves instructors with difficult decisions. In recent years, teachers have been fired over tweets, Instagram photos and other social media updates, emphasizing the need for proper decorum in online activity. To avoid disciplinary action, you should keep a few guidelines in mind:

  • Check your privacy settings. If you want to take your privacy a step farther, consider also going by your middle name rather than last name so you won't come up in searches. 
  • Choose your profile picture carefully. When your accounts are blocked, your featured image may still show up when people are searching for connections online. 
  • Avoid complaining about work in your posts. You never know how far an online statement can reach. If you wouldn't want a boss or parent to read it, so don't post it. 
  • Don't post on a social media channel during work hours. Even if the post was scheduled and you aren't actually online at work, it will still give the impression that you aren't focusing on your job. 

At the end of the day, be sure to carefully review any policies that your school has regarding staff member social media use and reach out to your supervisor with any questions.

To learn more about proper etiquette in this area, consider enrolling in "Ethical Practice in the World of Social Media and Internet Communication," an online course through ProSolutions Training.