Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have my job before the days of social media. While I enjoy it for personal use, it honestly can make some days turn into a major headache once I get complaints of students using Facebook or Twitter to bully one another or to post pictures of things that they shouldn’t have in their rooms or apartments (yes, we do see your party pictures). I imagine that before Facebook, students shared pictures the same way they shared them when I was in middle school – getting them developed and passing the envelope around. Also, I know that before I had a digital camera, I took WAYYYY less pictures because it was so expensive!
I already mentioned that students posting pictures of inappropriate activities can get them in trouble. I had friends get in trouble for this my first year at Undergrad U. They had been drinking one night in their room with a few friends and took some pictures and of course posted them on Facebook and I believe somebody reported them to a Residence Life Professional so then of course they got in trouble. I’ve had other instances of students or friends posting about things in their room (street signs, pets) and get in trouble for that as well.
A more recent phenomenon has been these “Confessions” pages. Undergrad U has had a pretty active page for a month or two now, usually filled with things like “I think my RA is hot” or “I had sex in the library/locker room/bathroom/etc”. Most of the time these are harmless, but other times students talk about hurting themselves or others and we have no way to find out who posted it.
Students definitely don’t understand the consequences of posting certain things online. With Facebook, the things you posted are most certainly linked with your real name. Trust me, it’s not fun to have to go through years of pictures and un-tag or delete inappropriate photos. It’s even worse when you have message people you haven’t talked to in ages asking them to take down their photos they may have posted of you. I didn’t have a Facebook until I was in college, but some of these students have had Facebook since they were thirteen…that’s going to be a LOT of Facebook digging their senior year!
Now, it’s not like I go creeping on the internet looking for my students’ Facebook and Twitter accounts trying to get them in trouble. Trust me, I don’t want to see this stuff. The less I know, the better! But if we are made aware of something, we have to chat with the student about it. I usually hear a lot of, “I had no idea you could see that!”
Another issue that has been happening with Residence Life (and it’s something that started happening while I was still a student) is that after receiving their roommate assignment, a student will go look up his or her new roomie on Facebook. Sometimes, the parent does this. And then all hell breaks loose. “My child cannot live with this heathen! They have PARTY pictures on Facebook!” While Facebook can be great for roommates and other incoming students to get to know each other, it becomes a problem when a student uses Facebook to “play up” one aspect of his or her life.
What are some issues that social media has created at your job? How do you work with students on addressing social media concerns?