posted by on #iCANHELP, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life

No comments

bristowcompFrom the moment they hit the ‘screen’ – #iCANHELP has been changing lives in a positive direction online and off.

They recently announced their latest form of kindness going viral! Don’t miss the 2-minute video at the end, and share it forward. We all can make a difference!

#ICANHELP Bristow Compliments

Bristow Middle School works to improve school culture through a compliments page.

Alexa Negrete and Allison Kim were tired of seeing negativity on their campus. In response, they created Bristow Compliments,  an Instagram page where they could anonymously post compliments about students at their campus. They are being featured this week on YouTube as part of ICANHELP’S #digital4good campaign.

“If you send us a picture of yourself, we’ll compliment you,” said Alexa. “But then people started saying, ‘Oh, I want to nominate this person or this person.’ Let’s make this a thing, so now we have compliment for a friend Friday.” Any time during the week people can send in pictures of their friends and a message to go with the photo. On Friday, “We post the picture of the friend along with the message and a compliment them from from us.”

Both Alexa and Allison wanted to stay anonymous. “We’ve been accused of doing it for popularity on several occasions, so we just didn’t want to mislead people into thinking that way,” said Allison.

The page set out to compliment everyone and did not focus on one peer group or one set of students. Alexa and Allyson focused on the little things about each person that made him or her special so that compliments came across as genuine and not generic.

“If we notice people haven’t been complimented in a while,” says Allison, “We will go on a compliment spree and just randomly compliment our followers. It’s crazy how much work it takes to make this for this little video that they play for 15 seconds and they scroll past it that we really put a lot of effort into this account”

“Next year, since we won’t be here, we want the account to keep going,” said Alexa. “It’s made such an impact right now that we are hoping that will continue into the future. So we’ve chosen two 7th graders to give the account to and post updates.” “We’re really excited,” said Allison.


###

About: #ICANHELP is a Bay Area-based national nonprofit organization that creates and promotes positive, school-based solutions & interventions to online harassment and bullying. We are a project of the Net Safety Collaborative.

Bristow Middle School is located in Brentwood, CA and is part of the Brentwood Union School District.

posted by on Bullying, Bullying prevention, Bullying Prevention Month, Parenting Teens

No comments

Order on Amazon

Order on Amazon

We often are confused between the definitions of rude, mean or if it’s bullying behavior.

Signe Whitson, an internationally recognized speaker and educator, provides insights on the distinctions of these types of behaviors in her latest activity books.

She challenges kids to move to a designated section in the room if the behavior represents bullying, to a different section if the behavior demonstrates meanness, and to a third section if the behavior is considered rude. Allow kids time to discuss why they chose to stand in a particular section, encouraging personal examples and reflection, as appropriate.

Let’s review the definitions:

Children’s author, Trudy Ludwig, uses these definitions:

Rude = Accidentally saying or doing something hurtful. 

Rude behaviors include:

  • Burping in someone’s face
  • Butting in line
  • Bragging about making a team

Rude behaviors are usually thoughtless and ill mannered, but not meant to actually hurt someone else. 

Mean = Saying or doing something to hurt a person on purpose, once or maybe twice.

The main difference between “rude” and “mean” behavior is that rudeness is usually unplanned.  Mean behavior, on the other hand, is done on purpose.

Mean behaviors include:

  • Making fun of what someone looks like or what they are wearing
    • I don’t like your short hair.  You look like a boy.
    • Why did you wear that dress?
  • Insulting someone’s intelligence or ability
    • You’re so stupid.
    • You stink at soccer.
  • Saying or doing something unkind after a fight with a friend.
    • Saying, “I hate you.”
    • Taking something that doesn’t belong to you.

Make no mistake; mean behaviors are very hurtful and should be avoided at all times! Still, meanness is different from bullying in important ways that we’ll talk about next.

Bullying = Cruel behavior, done on purpose and repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power.  

KEY POINT

To best understand bullying, remember the 3 P’s:

  1. It is done on Purpose; there is nothing “accidental” or unplanned about bullying
  2. It is a Pattern; the cruelty happens over and over again
  3. It is all about Power; the cruel person has more control and influence than his/her target

Kids who bully say or do something purposefully hurtful to others and they keep doing it again and again, with no sense of guilt or shame.  Kids who bully have more power than the kids they pick on.  This power may come from being older, stronger, or bigger in size or it may come from getting several kids to gang up on one target, to make that target feel hurt and alone.

 

 Order The 8 Keys to End Bullying Activity Book for Kids and Tweens on Amazon.

signebook

posted by on Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cell phone safety, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety

No comments

Credit:  www.michiganschoolshows.com

Credit: www.michiganschoolshows.com

Bullying has existed since the beginning of time. But today the internet and mobile devices have made bullying even easier. Bullies are no longer limited to just verbal or physical bullying. Text and online bullying have become a serious problem among adolescents and teens.

According to School bullying statistics in the United States:

  • About one in four kids in the U.S. are bullied on a regular basis.
  • Almost 9 out of 10 teens have a cell phone, and about 1 in 5 will be victims of a text bully. Text bullying has become more common than traditional bullying, especially among girls.
  • More than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.
  • More than 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.

As part of National Bullying Prevention Month, AT&T has compiled a list of apps designed to help protect children from bullying and to create awareness around the problem.

  1. KnowBullying – (Android, Apple – FREE) – This app is for parents. It facilitates conversations with your child about bullying by providing conversation starters and reminders to do so. The app also provides tips about bullying for specific age groups and helps parents recognize the warning signs of bullying.
  2. Smart Limits – (Android, Apple – FREE; monthly service fee of $4.99 for 1 line or $9.99 for up to 10 lines) – This parental controls tool for AT&T customers lets you block up to 30 numbers from unwanted calls and texts. It also lets you limit your child’s phone use during certain times of the day, block cellular data, set text and purchase limits, view daily calling and texting activity on your child’s device, and more.
  3. STOP!t – (Android, Apple, Windows – FREE; school rate $2 – $5 per student, per year) – The STOP!t is a tool for schools which allows students to report bullying anonymously as it happens. The app also includes a HELPiT button that allows users to talk and text a 24/7 crisis support network.
  4. BullyBlock – (Android – FREE) – This app captures and block bullies that are causing you and your family harm. The Bully Block app allows users to covertly record verbal threats and harassment, block inappropriate texts and pictures (e.g. sexting), and utilize auto respond features. Bully Block blocks bullies that utilize private or unknown numbers to engage in cyberbullying. Bully Block also has instant reporting features that allow the user to email or text abusive behavior to parents, teachers, HR departments, and law enforcement. All audio, messages, and calls are stored on the phone SD card.
  5. Bully Tag – (Android, Apple – FREE) – This app allows kids who witness bullying to report it anonymously to school officials in a number of formats. The app can be used to transmit video, audio, texts and pictures. The app also allows students to schedule appointments with the school counselor and gives them access to a help line for kids.
  6. Bully Stop (Android – FREE) – This app helps protect children from bully calls, texts and picture messages. The app gives your children the ability to block calls and messages from people they don’t want to hear from. Bully Stop uses a Block List to block unwanted callers and texters. The app maintains a password-protected call log of all attempted contact with your child so you can approach the relevant people, parents, teachers or police and show proof of the bullying communication.
  7. Bully Button – (Android, Apple – $0.99) – This app allows children to record incidents and send them to adults with a single click of a button. The Bully Button messages will be repeatedly sent to the intended recipient until they’re opened.

Courtesy of AT&T.

Disclaimer: I don’t endorse any products on my blog site, nor am I financially compensated for posting them. All products are represented by reputable companies and it’s up to the consumer to make their own decisions on what’s best for their individual needs.

posted by on Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention

No comments

AT&T and Tyler Clementi Foundation Survey 1,000  Teens and Parents

AT&T and Tyler Clementi Foundation Survey 1,000 Teens and Parents

To kick off a new national effort to raise awareness for the issue of cyberbullying, AT&T and Fullscreen, are harnessing the talent of more than 250 high school student filmmakers.

The teen filmmakers participated in the AT&T Film Invitational, a part of this year’s All American High School Film Festival. The AT&T Film Invitational is the first ever to focus on cyberbullying. The 10-week film competition provides high school students the chance to write, direct, shoot and edit an 8 minute film in New York City. Students spend 2 ½ months working on every aspect of their pre-production: script writing, storyboarding, securing actors, locations, etc. AT&T then selects teams to be flown to New York City to direct, shoot and edit their 8-minute films.

The winning films, announced at the Teen Indie Awards in New York City October 9, will be featured in a 20-minute AT&T cyberbullying film for free screening at schools nationwide in February 2017. The film is a concentrated effort by AT&T to educate teens and help end this crisis.

“An astounding 8-in-10 teenagers admit to being cyberbullied, or know someone who has been bullied through social media or text. We know this issue is very real for students, schools and families,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York State president, AT&T.  “And AT&T wants to help.

The following teams’ schools or organizations were selected as the winners of the Cyberbullying Film Invitational:

  • Steilacoom High School (Steilacoom, WA) received the award for Best In Contest and a cash prize of $5,000
  • Mythic Bridge (Brooklyn, NY) received the award for Runner-Up and a cash prize of $3,500
  • Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego, CA) received the award for Second Runner-Up and a cash prize of $2,500
Pine Crest School Filmmaking Team

Pine Crest School Filmmaking Team

These teams’ schools or organizations were selected as additional finalists and will each receive a cash prize of $1,000 awarded by the All American High School Film Festival:

  • Cedar Crest High School (Lebanon, PA)
  • Rye Country Day School (Rye, NY)
  • Digital Arts and Cinema Technology High School (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Pine Crest School (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
  • Science and Leadership Academy (Philadelphia, PA)

Three teams’ schools or organizations were also selected as Superlative Award winners, and won a cash prize of $2,500:

  • Grace Church School (New York, NY) received the Made In New York Award, given to a New York City-based filmmaking team
  • Communications High School (Wall, NJ) received the Maverick Award for a film with the most “outside the box” creative direction and execution
  • Nature Coast Technical High School (Brooksville, FL) received the Heart Award for creating a film embodying the most heartfelt story

Judges also selected the team from Pine Crest School (Fort Lauderdale, FL) to receive a $25,000 deal to create a series on cyberbullying exclusively for Fullscreen, an ad-free subscription service that speaks directly to the social-first generation. All of the winning films will also be available on Fullscreen and AT&T Digital You.

Public voters will determine the winner of the Public Choice Award starting October 11. They will have until October 28 to vote. The winning team receives an additional $5,000 for its school or organization. Head here to vote for your favorite film.

Working with the Tyler Clementi Foundation, AT&T has made addressing the rise of cyberbullying a priority. This support of the All-American High School Film Festival follows a first-of-its-kind poll commissioned with the Tyler Clementi Foundation this past March on cyberbullying.

This was an amazing weekend with lots of energy, interest and positive messaging around how we can all work together to amplify our voices to end all online and off line bullying. It was so difficult to choose our winners, as every film was terrific and produced with great skill, care and heart. Congratulations to everyone who participated!” said Jane Clementi, Founder and Board Member of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Internet Safety

No comments

pixabayonlinesafetyIn this digital age, teens are faced with more challenges than previous generations. From cyberbullying and online trolls to identity theft and other types of cybercrime, there are ample opportunities for trouble lurking online. Yet, the internet is a major part of our daily lives. To help keep your teen safe online, here are a few strategies:

Educate Yourself

To effectively keep your teen safe online, you need to be informed about all of the possible challenges that he or she may face. Educate yourself on the latest internet dangers and trends in teen internet usage. Know what apps are growing in popularity among teens, how they work and what makes them a hit. Frequently Google “dangerous apps for teens” to get some of the latest news and information.

Learn the lingo that your teen uses, especially in the digital space. From acronyms and catchphrases to app-specific jargon, you need to learn your teen’s online language so you can correctly spot any issues and address them together.

Share Digital Experiences

To connect with your teen and keep the communication channels open, you need to create some common ground. Share digital experiences to show your teen that you care about what he or she is interested in.

Ask your teen to show you how to use Instagram Stories or how to adjust your Facebook settings so you can block certain people from your newsfeed. Learn how to use the latest social media app together. Let your teen flex his or her technological muscles for you. It really is quite incredible how intuitive things are to your teen that may seem complicated to you.

Discuss Online Risks

There are no shortage of possible risks when using the internet and, for the most part, your teen understands this. However, when it comes to knowing what specific practices are risky, your teen’s understanding may be a bit hazy. Therefore, you must offer clear guidance and direction for how to handle a wide range of circumstances.

To help guide this conversation, simply look to the news. Discuss real life examples of cybercrime, online bullying and privacy infringement using the latest news stories. Offer real examples of the threats your teen faces daily and do not sugarcoat the consequences.

Create a Plan for What to Do

Have a clear plan in place so your teen knows what to do if he or she becomes the victim of online harassment or another digital crime. For instance, if your teen uses apps like YikYak and Snapchat where messages disappear shortly after being read, tell your teen to take screenshots of harassing messages to document evidence and avoid “he said, she said” drama when confronting the issue. Show your teen how to take a screenshot on his or her iPhone or Android phone as well as how to block texts and calls from a number.

Teach Your Teen to Advocate for Victims

Just because your teen is fortunate enough to not be the victim of bullying, whether online or in person, doesn’t mean he or she shouldn’t react if others are being victimized. Teach your teen how to advocate for anyone who is being bullied. Your teen can make a positive impact just by standing up to a bully for someone else or simply offering the victim kindness and help. Teens often stand idly by because they simply do not know how to handle such a confrontation, which is why it is so crucial to have an action plan of ways that they can help.

posted by on Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Online Safety

1 comment

Parent and teen chat offline. It can build a safer online life.

Parent and teen chat offline. It can build a safer online life.

Cyberbullying is a concern for all parents and teens alike.  We can’t be with our children 24/7 and the fact is our kids spend more time in cyberspace than they do with us. The most common form of cyberbullying among tweens and teens happens with cell phones. We need to equip them with the knowledge to handle cyberbullies and prevent them from becoming victims.

McAfee’s study of Teens and Screens in 2014 said that cyberbullying had tripled.  24% of tweens and teens lack knowledge on what to do in the event they witness online abuse or are a victim of it.

Cyberbullying Research Center is sending out daily Tweets during the month of October, Bullying Prevention Month under the hashtag #CRCdata, with statistics on their latest research of teens and social media.

crcdata1

crcdata2

crcdata3

crcdata4

According to Cyberbullying Statistics for 2014, 52% of teens report having been a victim of cyberbullying. Sadly, only 1 in 10 victims will tell a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.

According to a National Crime Prevention Council survey, almost 80% of teens said they didn’t have parental rules about their internet usage or found ways around them. Only 11% of teens talked to their parents about incidents of online abuse. By having open and frequent face-to-face chats with your child about digital literacy, internet safety and their cyber-life offline,  they are more likely to come to you when they are having issues online.

First we need to understand why tweens and teens don’t tell their parents.

1)  Fear of consequences: Your child’s online existence is a critical part of their social life. With all their friends online, being excluded would be devastating them. They don’t want to risk you banning them from their friends and their digital lives.

2)  Humiliation and embarrassment: Our kids are human and have feelings. Although some kids portray a tough persona and believe they are invincible, deep down everyone feels hurt by cruel keystrokes. Your child may fear looking stupid or weak. If the incident gets reported to their school, will they be able to face their classmates/peers? Imagine the horror of a child hearing from peers after being bullied that they somehow deserved it, brought it on themselves or should have just toughened it out rather than be a snitch.

3)  Fear of making it worse: We have taught our children well so they understand that bullies are looking for attention. By reporting the incident of cyberbullying to a parent, your child may fear it could anger the bully and make matters worse for them online. In some cases bullies will enlist more online trolls to cyber-mob your child. Of course the child’s dreaded fear is his or her parent reporting it to their school and more people knowing whereby they become a possible target in the future.

Building a strong digital relationship with your child:

1)  Speak openly about cyberbullying: Communication is key to helping your child understand that you are their advocate not only offline, but online too. Talk to them about cyberbullying prevention and remind them of the basics such as:

  • Never engage with online bullies
  • Never give out passwords
  • Never try to seek revenge on a cyberbully
  • How to block bullies
  • Save evidence of cyber-bullying, especially if you have to report the bully to a school

2)  It is not their fault:  Being a victim of a cyberbully is not their fault. Remind them you are not going to judge them or blame them.  Assure them that you will not revoke their Internet privileges or take away their phone if they are cyberbullied.  As I mentioned earlier, the Internet is an important part of their life so if they feel threatened that it will be removed, they may believe it is easier to be bullied and emotionally tormented.  We don’t want them to be feel this way, it is not healthy for anyone to have to tolerate.

3)  Listen:  Communication is also a two-way street.  Be sure you hear what your child is saying.  Many victims say what helps most is to be heard — really listened to, either by a friend or an adult who cares. Hopefully that is their parent. Cyberbullying may not be physical, however the emotion scars can be deep. Listening to your child respectfully can start the healing process. Never diminish their feelings and let them know you are their advocate.

4)  Role-play: It’s so disturbing when parents wait until we have a tragic headline to sit down and have that tech talk, or ask their teenager to show them that app that’s being featured on the news…. Don’t knock yourself that you may never be as tech savvy as your child, take advantage of it. Ask them to teach you about what they know. In doing this, you can learn more about their online life. Get in the trenches with them – you can learn a lot!

posted by on Social media, Social Networking

No comments

smlawWhat you look at, share, send, and store on your social media platforms is yours and yours alone—right? When it comes to access by law enforcement, the reality is more complicated.

For starters, it’s important to realize that court cases have accessed data from computers, smart phones, messages, videos, and more. The courts haven’t established a clear line of precedent in order to help law enforcement either.

But law enforcement has requested everything from photographs to medical records through the process of discovery. Discovery is when law enforcement tries to gather information related to a trial to help support their client. What you post on social media may, in fact, be relevant and requested if it’s related to a case.

Right now, what’s expected from courts is a balance between the expectation of privacy and the need to support a case, particularly when it’s specific. This graphic points out some of the key aspects of social media information related to court cases.

The Irony of Privacy Settings: Can Lawyers Use Social Media Posts in a Court of Law?

The Irony of Privacy Settings: Can Lawyers Use Social Media Posts in a Court of Law?

As someone that has been in a courtroom with many emails and posts from social media sites, I will tell you firsthand, pause before you send anything is a habit you must learn. There is no joy in any court proceedings, whether you are victorious, as I was, or the defendant — the emotional toll it takes on a person is tremendous. Use your cyber-smarts, if you don’t feel good about an email, text, post, or comment — don’t hit send. Wait 24-hours, it’s worth it. No one wants a process-server at their door.

Also read Third Parent’s advice for teens on this topic.

posted by on #iCANHELP, Civility, Kindness Counts

No comments

humansofloaraKatherine Pham and Gabriella Mariscal wanted to take storytelling at their school to the next level. Feeling inspired by the work on the Facebook Page Humans of New York, the two High School Seniors created Humans of Loara. With the support of their advisor Paul Chylinski, the students set out to improve their school the use of social media.

“We wanted to share the stories of our students here at Loara,” said Gabriella. “Once we had that idea, we took our idea to Mr. C and he was on board. He has truly been a big impact on our senior year and been a big support and making sure we do what we said we were going to do.”

“It’s crazy how many people we have covered,” said Katherine. To date the page is host to nearly 300 stories of students, staff and alumni.

The goal of the page is to bring you to a more in depth personal understanding of the people that make up Loara High School. People share their successes, struggles and experiences of their time at Loara. Some of the notable stories include a former gang member, Eddie, who went from a straight F student to a straight A student. “These stories give our students a little more inspiration and a little more hope,” says Gabriella.

“They have covered staff, students, alumni and more,” said Paul. “I’m so proud of what these two students accomplished and the impact their work has had on spreading positivity to our campus climate and culture. They posted two photos and two stories every day of the school year on top of their school work and activities, they are committed to their school.”

Loara is looking to expand their work online by establish a website later this year. In addition, they are in the process of adding a YouTube channel called “Voices of Loara.” The school has taken some of the posts and turned them into posters to be placed around campus. This is a model that other schools in the district are following to help spread kindness throughout the school district.

Celebrating Loara High School and their Humans of Loara Project on Instagram and Facebook.


About us:  #ICANHELP is a Bay Area-based national nonprofit organization that creates and promotes positive, school-based solutions & interventions to online harassment and bullying. We are a project of the Net Safety Collaborative.

Loara High School is located in Anaheim, CA and is part of the Anaheim Union School District.

posted by on AT&T, Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Distracted driving

No comments

distracteddrivingdayI usually use the power of pause when writing about posting online – pause before you post, send an email or text message. Always keep in mind — there is no rewind online.

However emotionally speaking, words can destroy your life, which have literally taken the life of many young people and even adults.  The power of pause has another important meaning when it comes to getting behind the wheel of your vehicle.

At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. – Distraction.gov

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. – Distraction.gov

Distracted driving kills. The friends, family, and neighbors of the thousands of people killed each year in distracted driving crashes will tell you it is a very serious safety problem. The nearly half a million people injured each year will agree.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 is Distracted Driving Day. Be a part of bringing awareness to your community.

itcanwait16

As  part  of AT&T’s It Can Wait pledge competition to achieve 16 million pledges in 2016 and end smartphone distracted driving, the company is challenging drivers to put down their phones for 21 consecutive days.  Why 21 days? Experts say it takes at least 21 days to make or break a habit.

According to research, habitual distracted drivers have a false sense of security in their actions. Only 58% feel that using their smartphone behind the wheel is “very dangerous,” compared to 78% of non-habitual distracted drivers.

AT&T hopes that through the 21-Day Challenge, drivers who participate will make safe driving a lifelong practice.

Habitually stowing your phone out of sight and reach, or using a free app like DriveMode that silences alerts, can help you break the dangerous habit of smartphone distracted driving.

The 21-Day Challenge comes just weeks after AT&T’s latest It Can Wait public service announcement started airing. The powerful PSA reminds drivers we may be alone in the car, but we’re never alone on the road. The PSA resulted from research that showed people are more likely to be distracted by their smartphone when they’re alone in the car.

distractedgif

AT&T is hosting pledge events in more than 30 states and recruiting local organizations, schools and community leaders to participate in the It Can Wait pledge competition.

To take the pledge never to drive distracted, go to www.itcanwait.com.

The fact is, everyone knows that texting and driving is risky, but they continue to engage in it anyway. Don’t wait to become a statistic — don’t wait to hear about your friend or family member to become one. Be proactive.

Let’s take the challenge in the POWER TO PAUSE with our devices. When you turn on the car — turn off your phone. The fact is, we are guilty in being distracted by the bells, dings, whistles, and lights that our phones will send us while we are driving. It only takes a few seconds to glance over and suddenly realize you no only have control of your vehicle.

Watch the following PSA’s – and you will soon realize — #ItCanWait.

Share these with your friends and family and remember, don’t wait to become a statistic.

  • “Distracted Driver Awareness Day” is October 5, 2016. On this day, people from around the world will use come together and use social media to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
  • Prior to and on October 5th, we encourage everyone to create and share posts, images, videos and real-time live streaming video shows to raise awareness as to the dangers of distracted driving. Offline we will be supporting local community events focused on educating and raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. We welcome your pictures, videos and stories at http://StopDD.Today and on social media using #StopDD.
  • Please share “Distracted Driving Awareness Day” with your family, friends, and community. Encourage everyone to use the links and resources found at http://StopDD.today, to raise awareness and save lives!


posted by on Civility, Digital citizenship, Internet Privacy, Online reputation, Social media

4 comments

pixabaysocialmediaWhen it comes to employment and social media, the First Amendment does not apply. You can, in fact, get fired for what you write, post, and share online, and it is not a violation of your Constitutional rights.

As HubShout’s June 2016 Social Media Conduct Survey found out, most people don’t understand the risks of posting their unfiltered thoughts and photos on social media, nor do they quite understand the actual conditions of the First Amendment.

Free Speech and its Limitations in the Workplace

When asked, ”Do you believe that getting fired because of a social media post is an infringement of First Amendment rights?”, 41.2% of respondents said “Yes,” and 30.4% said that they were “Not Sure.” That makes a total of 71.6% who do not know the truth about their rights and limitations.

In reality, if you get fired from your job in the private sector because of something you posted on social media, citing your First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech is futile. That is because this Constitutional right only allows individuals to express themselves without constraint by the government. Your speech is not protected from disciplinary action by your employer.

In other words, you won’t be thrown in jail for griping about how much you hate your boss, but you could lose your job. It seems pretty obvious now, right?

In 2015, 18% of employers fired an employee for something they posted on social media. Granted, businesses should have a social media policy for employees, outlining what is acceptable and what is grounds for termination; however, many companies don’t establish these kinds of rules at all. Regardless, an employer has the right to fire an employee because of social media even if the company has not provided a written policy. Therefore, as an employee, you cannot depend on the right to free speech.

Social Media Etiquette for the Job Seeker

It probably won’t come as a shock to learn that what you post on social media is fair game for future employers. Those privacy settings you skimmed over when you set up your Facebook account are flimsier than a rotten plywood fence. You can be sure that hiring managers can and will do their research, so you should always think of social media and your employment aspirations as closely connected.

A survey conducted by careerbuilder.com revealed that 49% of employers who screen candidates via social networks have found information that caused them to decide not to hire a candidate. There are a number of reasons to reject an employment application; here are the five most common reasons hiring managers cite.

Top Five Social Media ‘Turn-Offs’ for Employers

  1. Inappropriate or provocative photos, videos, or information
  2. Posts about candidates drinking or using drugs
  3. Offensive comments regarding race, religion, gender, etc.
  4. Negative posts bad-mouthing previous company or co-workers
  5. Poor communication skills

According to JobVite, as many as 93% of recruiters use, or plan to use, social media for hiring. The reality is your social media profile is an extension of your resume; it is an interview that never ends. A prospective employer might take one look at your Facebook profile and toss your application aside immediately. You may never know that those photos of you doing a keg-stand in college or that angry political rant you posted last week actually cost you a job.

Social Media: Can’t Work With It, Can’t Work Without It

If your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts are considered extensions of your resume, then they are actually much more important than you realize. Just as you can’t get a job without a resume, 41% of employers say that they are less likely to even interview a candidate with no web presence. Hiring managers need to be able to find information about you online. Wouldn’t you rather have control over what they find?

Job seekers should think of social media as an opportunity to showcase their “brand.” For the most part, when employers look for information about candidates online, they are not looking for problems or red flags; they are searching for insight into how you live your day to day life.

“What candidates do in their spare time and broadcast to the world through social media speaks volumes about their personal values and culture,” Val Matta, vice president of business development at CareerShift. “The hiring manager knows that, in hiring that person, they’ll likely bring those values and culture into the office. So it must align with, or contribute positively to, the organization’s current culture.”

Your social media profiles, or lack thereof, say a lot about you. In a nutshell, keep the content positive, professional, and representative of your best qualities.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of American adults use social media, and 90% of young adults (ages 18 to 29) use it. Since the practice of posting to social networks is so prevalent, HubShout wanted to find out if people are aware of the damage that social media can do to a person’s career and personal “brand.” As a digital marketing firm, HubShout understands the importance of personal branding and was interested to see how much people really know about the social media-employment connection. The full results and analysis of the survey are in the HubShout’s 2016 Social Media Conduct Ebook.

This guest post was written by Danielle Lachance, a premium writer at HubShout.