Here's something to think about and share with our children
By Christopher Stankovich, Ph.D., OHSAA Magazine Contributor
These days nearly every student-athlete has a Facebook page, a twitter account or utilizes another social networking service, and for most kids the content they choose to post is fun, harmless and safe. When kids use social media to talk about the events in their lives (including sports) and upload game pictures and video files, the idea of social networking can be a really enjoyable endeavor. Unfortunately, not all kids think through the impact and negative consequences of posting information that others might find offensive and degrading, and as a result run into future problems stemming from the content they posted on their social networking page.
Problems can occur when kids don’t think through the ramifications of the content they post, as the impressions others develop of them may be compromised if irresponsible content is posted. Kids today need to know that many people see their daily activities on social networking pages, even if they are not aware of this. In fact, it is quite common today for colleges and potential employers to do Google searches on studentathletes, as well as check out their social networking pages. A youngster with questionable comments and pictures on his/her social networking page will likely lose future opportunities because he is viewed as a “high risk.”
It is vitally important to analyze your social networking pages and look at your page content through another person’s eyes. Is there content posted that could come back to haunt you, or possibly lead to family, school or legal problems? Perhaps most important, does your page accurately show all the good things about you, like your success in the classroom, volunteer efforts, sport success or other school activities?
It is imperative that parents have access to their child’s social networking pages to ensure appropriate content is being posted. The consequences today are great when it comes to potentially lost or missed opportunities simply because of poor choices made in Facebook posts. Please keep in mind the following tips when it comes to social networking:
Probably the biggest problem kids have when it comes to social networking is the graphic and slang language that is often used. While most kids would never speak with coarse language in front of their parents, teachers or coaches, with social networking it is easy to use whatever language you want. Always keep it clean and stay away from rude language, racist or other stereotypical remarks.
Similar to language, visual images can cause big problems for kids as well. Kids will often post pictures of things they would never want their parents or other adults in their lives to see. Be sure that the pictures you post are of good taste and portray you as a responsible and goal driven individual!
Many kids think it’s cool to post comments and pictures that reference drugs and/or alcohol. In some instances, blatant pictures and references are posted, while in other examples references are made (like seeing a group of kids cheering with plastic cups that are commonly associated with parties). Aside from the fact that it is illegal for kids to use, party pictures will never sit well with colleges or possible employers when they sit down to examine personality traits pertaining to leadership, responsibility, and decision making.
Bullying in schools is receiving more attention than ever before. Similarly, hazing is also a big problem and can lead to school and legal consequences. While kids might think it is funny to post pictures of another student athlete being taped to a goal post, or posting threatening messages on Facebook, both of these examples can lead to big problems.
About Dr. Stankovich
Dr. Chris Stankovich is a professional athletic counselor, media spokesperson and author in the field of sport performance science. His doctorate degree is from The Ohio State University, with an emphasis of study in sport and health psychology. Known as “The Sports Doc” for his weekly television segment on Ohio News Network, he is also a featured national columnist for The Examiner. To learn more about Dr. Stankovich, including products and services, please visit www.drstankovich.com.
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