Social media trouble: Students may suffer consequences for poorly thought-out posts

It’s something teens hear over and over again: Don’t post anything on social media that could get you in trouble. Since social media exploded and one person can have an account on multiple sites, how much is too much to post on social media?

Depending on what school you attend, and whether it is a high school or a university, the social media policies will be different. At McNick, social media falls under the student behavior section of the student handbook: “McNicholas High School reserves the right to impose consequences for inappropriate behavior that takes place on or off campus and after school hours. Thus, inappropriate use of technology (for example, on a home computer), may subject the student to consequences. Inappropriate use includes harassment, use of school name, remarks directed to or about faculty/staff, offensive communications, safety threats, displaying and/or promoting drug and alcohol use. Disciplinary consequences include detention, probation, suspension and/or dismissal.” Ultimately, the school administration will decide whether your social media post is inappropriate enough to be threatened with expulsion.

Most schools support the use of social media to spread information quickly and for educational purposes. McNick has an official Twitter page, Facebook page, and an Instagram account coming for the 2017-2018 school year, all ways to get in touch with prospective students and parents. When used for these purposes, social media is productive and positive. But some users overstep boundaries and post harassing comments, pictures, and even more serious things such as bomb threats. What is the school administration to do when their students engage in these activities?

When faced with an imminent threat communicated over a social media site, school officials must follow emergency guidelines that have been set in place regarding the threat. According to the National School Safety and Security Services, these guidelines help administrators make decisions based on the actual facts of the threat. Teachers should have also received training beforehand on what to do in emergency situations.

Ken Trump, President of National School Safety and Security Services, said in an article about “in a world that’s on digital steroids, there must be a plan of action when schools encounter inappropriate use of technology, whether that is disciplinary action or legal action,” Trump said.

All across America, there have been trends where rumors of threats have interrupted classes. Some may remember the false bomb threat that McNicholas received during last school year, interrupting classes and prompting parents to take their students home. “We are now dealing with ‘Generation Text’,” Trump said in the same article. “The rumors typically become greater than the issue, problem, or incident itself.  Rumors fly in minutes, not hours, attendance can drop dramatically overnight and some school officials seem increasingly quick to shut down schools.” According to the National School Safety and Security Services, there is a spike of threats, 1/3 of those received by social media, in the months of March and April.

Before you post, ask yourself some questions: Does this reflect who I am? Would I want my parents, grandparents, teachers, younger siblings, etc. seeing this? Is it possible for me to get in trouble for posting this? If you have to think twice about what you’re posting, then maybe you shouldn’t post.

If you evaluate your post and decide that it is morally sound, go ahead and post away. Otherwise, you may find yourself wound up in some trouble.

social media
In most cases, social media is a good way to bring everybody together, but some are using it with bad intentions. Schools are looking into ways to tackle issues where their students are posting inappropriately online. Image courtesy of

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