Director of Students Report

February 19, 2021

By Director of Students, Mr Mike Silcock

Social Media – Responsible Behaviours

Social media and young people!! The combination creates endless concern for parents and educators alike. Following our most recent period of Remote Learning this week, it is important that a distinction is acknowledged between the educational and social benefits to technology and the potential pitfalls to inappropriate use of social media platforms.

In recent weeks, it has come to our attention that a number of our students are engaging in concerning practices across a variety of social media platforms. These include, but are not limited to, the sharing of inappropriate content and cyberbullying, both of which we know would concern you as they do us. Embedded within our curriculum and explicitly taught, we shall continue to work with our students to educate them on safe and responsible practices, and would encourage you to have similar conversations with your son. In the coming days, I shall speak at a series of year level assemblies, however any opportunities you have to assist with this would be beneficial.

To aid you in supporting your son, I share with you a series of ‘tips’ that you can use to assist you with any conversations you have:

  • Sharing too much/Privacy. There is a misconception that a Privacy setting prevents the sharing of personal information. In reality, even the most innocuous of information, shared by simply ‘Liking’ a friend’s page or post, can offer someone an insight or avenue into discovering a far greater amount of detail. Also, when a picture or post is uploaded, a transfer of control occurs that would enable others to distribute and/or forward that content. An easy way to mitigate this potential risk is to ensure that your son knows all those he is following and/or are ‘friends’ on any given social media platform. The sharing of any graphic content should never occur, with strict legal guidelines, also applicable in this instance.
  • Connecting with strangers. It may appear an unnecessary point to make, but in recent years there has been an increase in young people connecting with complete strangers in an online capacity. This is also occurring in online gaming platforms, so we would recommend parents periodically checking in with their sons and keeping very open lines of communication with them. Research has shown that if a young person has a clear line of communication with their parent or trusted adult, then it mitigates significant likelihood of them reaching out to strangers in an online capacity.
  • Clear-cut rules. There would be those that suggest we should not give our young people any access to mobile devices and the means to use social media until they are a certain age. At this point, we must assume that most of your sons will have a mobile device and have connected, in some capacity, to a social media platform. Regardless of whether this has occurred or not, clear rules should be established. These will be specific to your own home and wishes, however you may wish to consider tech-free spaces in the house and certain times that are ‘device-free’.
  • Online bullying. We acknowledge that a child’s identity and self-esteem are very fragile during early adolescence. Cyberbullying is far reaching and can take many different forms. The results of cyberbullying can be very damaging, so please look out for any changes of behaviour that may be an indicator of cyberbullying. For those of you with son’s in younger years, our advice would be to ensure you never let your son’s screen time be completely unmonitored. We must also acknowledge that it is important you also make sure your child is never criticising, teasing or attacking others online.

Ultimately, we would advise that any technology is a privilege that you should not let your sons abuse.