The “Internet [has] transformed typical adolescent behavior – cliquish snubs, macho boasts, sexual flirtations, claims about drinking and drugs – into something not only public, but also permanent” stated a recent New York Times article Teaching About Web Includes Troublesome Parts by Stephanie Clifford. Educating the up-and-coming workforce, along with the Mellennials, on responsible uses of the Internet is essential. While some schools, companies and even countries attempt to ban the use of social media, the action results in unprepared students, unproductive employees and potentially unsound citizens. “Restricting access to information is fighting the force of a global movement towards greater participation” (Greg Ferenstein).
Instead, learning establishments should readdress their curriculum on e-safety. First and foremost, with technology becoming easier to use (even for toddlers), there is an imminent need to promote proper procedures for coping with online abuse, stalking, cyber-bullying and unwanted wall posts, messages and chats. Facebook has recently made a significant attempt to provide parents, teens, teachers, law-enforcement and professionals a Safety-Center as a learning resource. However, as Kevin Jenkins recently experienced, protecting students from cyber-bullying is only part of the difficulty. Giving fourth-graders in Malpitas, California access to online communication tools, they immediately began to post surveys inquiring as to “Who’s the most popular classmate?” and “Who is best-liked?”
Furthermore, employment-seekers, myself included, while highly informed on current social media and networking trends, must better understand their overarching digital footprint and its influence on their chances of being hired. While growing up, my father would continuously remind me of The Wall Street Journal Test. To this day, I still envision how I would feel if my possible action – whether it is a simple speeding ticket or a mischievous night out in New York City – was published on the front page of the paper (my name and picture included). In a recent post by Jeremiah Owyang, he summarizes my point nicely:
“So before you post that blog lambasting another blogger, or somewhat questionable photos in Facebook, or talking about recovering from your hangover on Twitter, remember that hiring managers are analyzing how a candidate will represent their brand.”
To this point, here is a recent tweet I happened to come across:
Unfortunately, using a computer in the privacy of one’s home creates a sense of security and privacy. In reality, online activity is quite public and permanent. The line between public and private used to be clear, became blurred, and is now non-existent.