Chapel Hill, N.C. — Several weeks after creating a de facto constitution to help guide their actions on social media sites, students at East Chapel Hill High School said Friday they are noticing a reversal of a once-disturbing trend.
Not long ago, junior Kyane Epps said many people used social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to demean and humiliate others.
"A lot of just degrading of other students," she said. "It was very vicious, really."
School administrators noticed the trend as well, and some said the perils of social media were keeping them from focusing on the school's more important issues.
"They would be behind their keyboards with what we called 'keyboard courage,'" administrator Rob Frescoln said. "It was taking administration's time away from really important business."
At a social media summit last month, Frescoln said he helped teach students about the impact of social media and talked to them about how to use it wisely.
"Students created their own social media constitution, sort of the rules of the road for handling interaction online," he said.
Epps said the main tenant of the constitution is to use social media positively and know that abusing it can lead to consequences on school grounds.
"Think before you post anything," junior Rania Choukaili said. "Make sure you won't do anything or post anything you'll regret."
Improving social media interaction on school grounds is something Frescoln said he hopes extends outside the campus, considering the far reach of bullying.
"They're on the Internet, they're on social media, Twitter, Facebook, and the bullying can continue," he said. "Words have a powerful impact."
Students will help parents learn more May 1 when they host a social media information session at the school from 6:30 to 8 p.m.