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Column: Social media tips for students is good advice for all

District 518 brownhouse
We are part of The Trust Project.

WORTHINGTON — Social media helps us engage with people and is like having a conversation. It can empower parents, students and teachers, helping to build a stronger community. This technology is a relatively new way of sharing information, and precautions should be taken with the use of social media and platforms.

Share with caution: Respect privacy, know when not to share, and think about how others see you.

Guard your personal information: Name, date of birth, address, phone number, social security number, email address. Only your parents or guardians can have this information. Never give out your personal information to people you do not know.

Understand the potential impact on your future: Photos, audio, videos, texts, comments. Many in post-secondary education employers check social media accounts; some even ask for your username. Think about how someone would respond to what you post. That information is accessible for others to find, and years down the road it could become a problem for your professional or personal life.

Don’t jump into fake news: Understand that just because something is online does not mean it is true.

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Beware of scams: Determine the validity of websites and other sources of information that use manipulation, unsubstantiated claims, fake offers or prizes, and other online scams. They could be trying to steal your identity. Phishing is an attempt to scam or trick you into sharing your login or other personal information through email, ads or sites that look like those you are familiar with. Scammers try to get you to open attachments that can put viruses on your computer. Remember a website or an ad cannot tell if there is something wrong with your cell phone or computer. If you fall for a scam, do not panic. Tell your parent, teacher or other trusted adult right away.

Avoid problems: Ignore a person asking anything you are not sure about. Block these people. Most social media sites will not show the person that you blocked them. Fake profiles are easy to make so always check before accepting a friend/follower request. Look at their friends list as another way of checking if they are a real person. If not much is posted, it could be a fake profile.

Guard your passwords: Change them every year. Use strong passwords with numbers, lower and uppercase letters, and special characters. Protect your device from someone else using it by setting up a password or other security options. Never share your password, except with parents or guardians.

Be kind: Say things nicely and mind your tone. Keep it positive. Treat others with empathy and consideration. Respond to negativity in constructive and civil ways. Behind every username there is a real person with real feelings, treat them as you would want to be treated. Do not support mean behavior. Stand up for kindness and positivity. Online bullying can be cruel and cause hurt feelings. If it turns into harassment, tell someone who can help — a parent, teacher or school counselor. Make good decisions when choosing what to say, or whether to say anything at all. Misunderstandings can happen, sometimes it’s better to talk face-to-face.

Get help and report abuse: People online may not be who they say they are. Know who they are before replying. Ask questions or get help from an adult if you can’t tell for sure. Getting help is a sign of strength. Sometimes talking about it can help think of options, find solutions or sort through feelings.

Create and maintain a good reputation online and off: The many things that make you unique should be visible on the outside and online. It is difficult for families to see their loved ones doing shocking things that will be hard for them to understand. We want our students to reflect the person we see during the school day online too. The teachers and staff trust and believe in the Trojan PRIDE (Personal Responsibility, Respect, Integrity, Discipline and Engagement) that you have worked hard on. You have the power to change and influence the world. Go out and make a difference.

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