Student Athletes and Social Networking Sites

In the past we have had Student Athletes miss games and practices due to suspensions because of inappropriate use of online social networking sites.  As a Student Athlete of St. Thomas you are required to follow student handbook guidelines even though an event may happen off school property or after school hours.  Something as innocent as posing with an empty beer can in a photo that gets put on line is inappropriate behavior and will get you in trouble.

Social Networks: Social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Friendstar, and other digital platforms and distribution mechanisms facilitate student communicating with other students. Participation in such networks has both positive appeal and potentially negative consequences. It is important the St. Thomas student-athlete be aware of these consequences and exercise appropriate caution if they choose to participate.

Student-athletes are not restricted from using any on-line social network sites and digital platforms. However, users must understand that any content they make public via on-line social networks or digital platforms is expected to follow acceptable social behaviors and also to comply with federal government, state of New Hampshire, St. Thomas Aquinas, and NHIAA/NCAA rules and regulations. 

As a St. Thomas student-athlete you must be aware of Student Handbook regulations. Ignorance of these regulations does not excuse student-athletes from adhering to them.

 

Guidelines for Student-Athletes

These guidelines are intended to provide framework for student-athletes to conduct themselves safely and responsibly in an on-line environment.
As a student-athlete at St. Thomas you should:

           

1.       Be careful with how much and what kind of identifying information you post on social networking sites. Virtually anyone with an email address can access your personal page. It is unwise to make available information such a full date of birth, social security number, address, phone number, cell phone numbers, class schedules, bank account information, or details about your daily routine. All of these can facilitate identity theft or stalking. Facebook and other sites provide numerous privacy setting for information contained in its pages; use these settings to protect private information. However, once posted, remember the information becomes property of the website.

2.       Be aware that potential current and future employers and College Admissions offices often access information you place on on-line social networking sites. You should think about any information you post on Facebook or similar directories potentially providing an image of you to a prospective employer or school. The information is considered public information. Protect yourself by maintaining a self-image that you can be proud of years from now.

3.       Be careful in responding to unsolicited e-mails asking for passwords or PIN numbers. Reputable businesses do not ask for this information in e-mails.

4.       Do not have a false sense of security about your rights to freedom of speech. Understand that freedom of speech is not unlimited. The on-line social network sites are NOT a place where you can say and do whatever you want without repercussions.

5.  Remember photos once put on the social network site's server become their property.  You may delete the photo from your profile but it still stays on their server.  Internet search engines like Google or Yahoo may still find that image long after you have deleted it from your profile.  Think long and hard about what type of photo you want to represent you.

6. Twitter randomly posts "tweets" on their main page if you happen to use a key word, so your private tweet to a friend may end up on the web for all to see for a few minutes.  Alls its takes is for one person to print the screen and bring it to the attention of school administration to land you in trouble for saying something you know you shouldn't.  There is no such thing as a private "Tweet".

      Tweets that start with “@…” are mostly private and won’t be seen by many people.  These are known as “@messages,” and are pronounced “at messages.” As private as they are,  @messages can be seen by everyone if the person receiving it “retweets” it.  Here’s how it works: If you are @yourhandle on Twitter, and @yourfriend sends you this tweet:

  @yourhandle something bad about a teacher or student?

None of @yourfriend follower’s will see it unless they also follow you, but if someone visits @yourhandle’s Twitter page directly, e.g. Twitter.com/yourhandle they will see this message.  However, it can also be found in Twitter search, if someone searches your @ Name.

Remember nothing is private on the web.

 

Things Student Athletes should avoid:

 1. Derogatory language or remarks about teammates or coaches; other St Thomas student athletes or coaches; student-athletes, coaches, athletics administrators or representatives of other Schools.

               2. Demeaning statements about or threats to any third party.

               3. Incriminating photos or statements depicting violence; hazing; sexual harassment; vandalism, stalking; underage drinking;
                        selling, possessing, or using controlled substances; or any other inappropriate behaviors.

              4. Creating a serious danger to the safety of another person or making a credible threat of serious physical or emotional injury
                       to another person.

              5. Indicating knowledge of an unreported felony theft or felony criminal damage to property.

             6. Indicating knowledge of an unreported school or team violation—regardless if the violation was unintentional or intentional.

 

One of the biggest lessons social network users can learn is that anything you post online enters the public record. You never know who may be looking. For instance, there have been cases where minors were cited for underage drinking or breaking the rules of an apartment lease after pictures of wild parties were posted on social networking sites.  Kids posting photos bragging of graffiti they have done have been arrested by Police.

Although not every Facebook misstep makes the national news, users should always be sensitive to how others might perceive their profiles. A private joke isn't so private when it's accessible to millions across the internet, and it can easily offend someone who doesn't understand the context. If that isn't enough to make you think twice about posting an inappropriate picture or off-color comment, consider your future. High school and college students should carefully consider their Facebook profiles and ask themselves how they would look to a future college admissions officer or potential employer.

 

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