Last week I was invited to school to talk at a Year 9 assembly about stopping to think before they post things on social media.
As an ex-youth worker it’s always a pleasure to talk with young people, but what I realise when I do these events is that young people are not as social media savvy as we like to think they are.
I meet many business owners that want to take on students to do their social media, or give it to the young apprentice, as there’s a myth that they’re the experts in this field.
Of course they’ve grown up with it and they are more comfortable using it than most adults, but they’ve been given very little guidance on the do’s and don’ts and so, all too often, come unstuck.
I feel pretty sorry for them really, after all those of us aged over 40 did stupid stuff too, but with no Facebook or Snap-chat equivalent there’s just no record of it. Young people don’t have that luxury, as pretty much all the daft stuff they do is recorded somewhere, by themselves, their friends or their family.
Now here we are with the long summer holidays upon us and many teens will spend a fair amount of unsupervised time on-line, or worse being egged on by their peers, yet we’re still grappling with the question of who should teach young people about all this. Sadly while everyone is thinking it’s someone else’s responsibility, young people are paying the price.
One in 10 young people are not getting jobs because of things they shared on-line and I’m confident that will rise as more and more recruiters are checking candidates’ social media profiles.
And of course the police are now following up on social media related complaints too.
Schools are doing a fair job of raising the issue, but as they’re shut for six weeks it’s now down to us parents. The main problem we face is that still most of us do not understand the ins and outs of social media, but just raising the subject with our youngsters is a very good start as only a handful of the entire Year 9 said that they talk to their parents about social media.
We don’t need to be experts to start the conversation, but arming ourselves with information will help, and of course we can be good role models by thinking about what we post too.