How to build a thorough social media policy

We’ve written plenty on Social Media use within schools but seldom detailed the policy surrounding its usage and implementation. This information may be covered in a standalone Social Media Policy or as a section within an overarching School Communications Policy. Either way, it’s crucial to plainly spell out the dos and don’ts of social media use, by staff and students alike, at your school so you can avoid incidents like this.

Your Social Media policy needs to cover everything. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and so on. You will need generic information to provide context for the reader to start off your policy. It is worth noting that you use language as specific as possible throughout your policy so as to avoid any vagueness or misinterpretation. It needs to include operational (staff) usage as well as general/public (student) usage. Below is a list of items to consider in your Social Media Policy. Some may pertain to staff more than students, however there is often overlap of significance for both:

  • An introduction of the policy and its overall purpose and intention.
  • A discussion of ethical responsibility of staff and students, right to privacy, and expectations of respectful conduct online.
  • A clear set of rules around use of a mobile device, tablet or computer during school hours.
  • A list of websites that are allowed on the school grounds.
  • The sharing of private or confidential information.
  • Treatment of other digital citizens (may also tie in with your school’s bullying policy).
  • Use of school email, on and off school grounds.
  • Guidelines around staff sharing of work-related issues on their personal social media accounts.
  • Additional guidelines for HR using insofar as employee/employer prospects.
  • Use and sharing of proprietary or private information in a public digital domain.
  • Use of digital devices for unapproved usage during class time.
  • Set strict guidelines for student-staff interactions via social media.
  • Use of images, either of yourself or of someone else without issued permission.

You may structure your Social Media Policy using some, all or additional points to the above. The most important thing is that you tailor your policy to the most significant needs of the school, covering all of your bases, and that you frame the information in such a way that it encourages positive usage instead of discouraging negative usage.

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