Encourage Twitter literacy.
Educators are uniquely positioned to provide valuable guidance and insight for their students’ conduct online. We’ve compiled some tips for you to share with your students about different situations they may encounter.
Twitter is a global social broadcast network that enables people and organizations to publicly share brief messages instantly around the world. The service can be accessed on the web at twitter.com, on a wide variety of mobile devices and via text messaging. Available in more than 35 languages, Twitter has hundreds of millions of active users. Read this introduction to Twitter or follow @twitter for more information.
While Tweets can be protected so only approved followers can see them, most users share their Tweets with everyone. Since the information posted is public, it can be Retweeted (or reposted) on the site by anyone who sees it. If students want their Tweets to only be available to followers they approve, they should protect their Tweets.
Explain to your students that passwords should never be shared — not even with their friends. If the computer they use is shared, remind them to always log out when they finish their Twitter session to develop good online safety habits. It’s important to log out of any websites they’ve logged into on a shared computer. Otherwise, other people may be able to access their information.
Teens can be reluctant to discuss online safety. Listen to how your students are using Twitter, and take their online relationships seriously.
Talk about different situations your students may encounter on Twitter. Help them sharpen their strategy for dealing with those situations by asking questions like:
- When you Tweet, who sees it?
- Can you trust all the people who see the information on your Twitter account?
- How might your Tweet be interpreted?
- Is the Tweet part of a larger conversation?
Remind your students that not everyone has the same definition of what should be private and what should be shared.
If a student’s friend or follower posts private information about that student in a Tweet, have the student ask that person to remove the Tweet. Encourage your students to be considerate and honor another person’s request for removal. Read this article to learn how to delete a Tweet.
As an educator, you know that teens sometimes say or write things that are not meant to be hurtful, but that others find offensive or upsetting. Help teens evaluate what’s okay to post. Remind them that if they wouldn’t say it to the person’s face or out loud, they shouldn’t say it online.
Often, individual Tweets are part of a larger conversation, and a Tweet by itself may be confusing when read outside of its intended context.
Know what to do if you need help.
BLOCK AND IGNORE
If a student receives unwanted Tweets from another Twitter user, we generally recommend that they block that user and end communication. Ignoring the content shows unwillingness to engage in such interaction and, in most cases, the aggressor loses interest. This article explains how to block other users.
SUBMIT A REPORT
DISCUSS WITH OTHERS
Many issues can be resolved by working with the student’s parents, who may not be aware of the situation. Encourage parents to talk about online safety issues that may arise. Responsible use of the Internet should be promoted at both school and home.
For more serious cases, involve the school administrator and be sure to know and communicate your school’s Internet safety policies.