My two younger boys, who are still in middle school, are intently focused on playing collegiate sports. When I read about the recent news of the NCAA sanctions against the University of North Carolina’s football program (due to what was found on student athletes social media profiles), I immediately shared the story with my 13-year old son. The UNC story presents a great opportunity to take a non-confrontational approach with your teen to demonstrate and reiterate how important it is to be careful about what they post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc…
The football program at UNC was found to be involved in academic fraud and the distribution of improper benefits to student-athletes. The NCAA report found that the school failed to “consistently monitor the social networking activity of its student-athletes”, which would have alerted the school to the previously mentioned violations. Because of this, the athletic department has now updated its guidelines, noting that coaches and/or administrators will be regularly monitoring the student-athletes’ social media accounts. Because of these infractions, the UNC football team is banned from attending a championship bowl game in 2012 and has to forfeit 15 scholarships over a three year period.
I was glad I talked to my son about what happened to these student athletes. He had a lot of questions about what they posted and what they did, so we spent time talking about those details. I also told him I wanted to be sure he remembered this conversation and my words of advice so that he didn’t make the same mistakes these young men did: failing to think before posting.
The lesson we can all take away from this incident is that we need to be very proactive in talking to our children – no matter what their age – about what they do online and what they share on their profiles. It’s clear that social media is becoming a tool for scrutiny. It used to be that only employers would go through and “vet” their employees’ social media accounts, but now we can see that schools are increasingly using social media to keep tabs on their student-athletes.
In the end, you really don’t know who is looking at your profile, so it’s always good practice to make it as private as possible. Use our helpful guides to ensure sure your social media privacy settings are maximized. Share the information with your child, whether they’re in high school or college. For your younger children, there’s Yoursphere.com, where the default settings for a child’s profile are always set to private.