Please don’t mess up in this area. It’s easier than you realize!
Social media has changed how many interact with each other. It’s how many connect, communicate and sadly for some, live their lives. I can remember when I first heard students talking about Myspace, then Facebook, and all the other platforms that have followed. Social media can be an effective tool for youth ministry in promoting the ministry and connecting with students.
It can also be dangerous. I’ve heard stories and seen how youth workers have gotten into trouble because of how they have used social media. It’s important that youth ministries set guidelines for how their leaders and their youth ministry will use social media. Here are 8 crucial social media guidelines.
Here are some guidelines to consider:
- You are being watched. Anyone in a leadership position is always under some spotlight. Students, parents and other leaders are watching you, and your online life says a lot about who you are. What are others seeing?
- When posting something, carefully consider what you are posting. Is what you are posting potentially offensive, inappropriate, abusive, compromising? Be careful of the pictures you post, the group you are affiliate with and the language that you use.
- Be aware of what you are tagged in. As well think about what pictures and comments that you “like”.
- Don’t post anything that could divide or bring your church into a bad light. Political statements, addressing local controversies and attacks on leaders need to be carefully considered.
- Be vigilant in private conversations. This may be hard to avoid so be wise if this occurs. If possible keep any conversations public. Never delete any communication, this offers transparency in case a complaint or question occurs.
- If you are in regular contact with a student it may be wise to let your supervisor and the parents know.
- Wait to be friended or followed. Don’t always be the first to establish contact, this may seem weird to the student. Let them reach out to you, this shows that they are wanting you to be a part of their lives.
- Use groups for effective interaction. Using a group chat allows many to be involved and the conversations are transparent. Do not tolerate any bullying or inappropriate use. If there is any inappropriate material posted in any online groups it needs to be deleted immediately.
I was sent the following social media code of conduct few years ago so I am not sure the source, but I found them helpful.
1) We will honour God
2) We will respect genders, races, sexuality and religions without prejudice or negative/insulting remarks.
3) We will conduct ourselves with dignity.
4) We will not post any: offensive language [including swearing and sexual remarks], inappropriate photos or links.
5) We will commit to being positive and friendly in our involvement.
“Be careful how you live, as wise not unwise, redeeming the time because the days are evil”