A new year represents a fresh start, and it’s the perfect time for students to reflect on their past posts, likes, and follows on social media. If you have teens using social media, ask them this thought-provoking question: If a coach, favorite teacher, dream mentor, or college admissions officer looked at your social media accounts, what are three things they would assume about your character?
According to Kaplan Test Prep, one in four college admissions officers believe social media is fair game to check during the college admissions process. For this reason and others, it’s never too late to upgrade our social media profiles for the better. And who better to offer tips than student leaders?
Here at The Social Institute, we polled student leaders who are in 12th grade or college, and asked them to offer their best social media advice for younger students. Below are their top ten tips for younger students about using social media and technology positively in 2020.
High School Senior: “The best posts don’t always get the most likes.”
College Freshman: “It’s definitely OK to share your accomplishments on social media because it lets others know about you, what you love, and the rewards that come with it.”
College Sophomore: “It’s important to be honest with your friends about your family’s technology rules.”
College Sophomore: “It’s so easy to get caught in the moment and the desire to stay up-to-date on everything going on around us, but it’s important that we still focus on the things that truly matter and the things that provide the most value to our lives not only in the present, but also in the future.”
High School Senior: “Post what matters to you. At least one person will see it and will care.”
College Junior: “If you have homework or a project, it’s better to finish that before starting to text your friends.”
High School Senior: “It’s important to put our phones down, have a great face-to-face conversation with people, and show our friends how much we care about them.”
College Sophomore: “Focus your time and energy on treating people with kindness and respect.”
High School Senior: “It’s just as important to show your best, authentic self online as it is in person.”
College Sophomore: “Our internet search results can be considered in the college admissions process, and we should recognize that we have the power to make those search results positive factors that play to our advantage.”
To start the new year off strong, consider having your child “scrub” their social media accounts. Encourage them to look back at what they’ve shared, who they followed, the content they liked and favorited, and the conversations they engaged in on social media this past year. Anything that does not reflect their values, goals, and interests should be edited or deleted, period.
With these tips and a good scrub in place, you and your student will feel proud of everything in their profile — and that’s a great way to start a new decade.
Laura Tierney, a digital native who got her first phone at age 13, is founder and president of The Social Institute, which partners with schools nationwide to empower students, parents, and leaders to navigate social media and technology positively. She’s also a mom of one.