DES MOINES, Iowa — Seventy percent of students use social media multiple times a day to create and share content across the internet.
“After a student has graduated and I start following them on twitter I’m a little bit horrified by the things I see them retweeting,” said East High School journalism teacher Natalie Niemeyer.
Unfortunately, not all students are cautious about what they choose to post, making themselves vulnerable. Educators in Des Moines are trying to change that through updates in curriculum and open conversations in the classroom.
“I get students in their first week, their first semester of journalism in the School of Mass Communication and I talk about social media that week I give them social media advice,” said associate journalism professor at Drake University Chris Snider.
“Anytime that something pops up in the news that someone faces backlash for, something that they have posted on social media, is really a teachable moment for us,” says Niemeyer.
The most important thing educators want students to understand is how easy it is to dig up old posts on someone’s social media.
“Twitter advanced search is a very powerful tool. So you know a couple keywords [that] you want to search, and in a couple [of] minutes you can search someone’s account back to the beginning and find anything that they might have posted,” said Snider.
Niemeyer says she has noticed her students seem to be more careful than youth from the past, but some are still learning from personal experiences.
“Well back then I didn’t really think about it but know I really do…I posted something a while back and it came back to haunt me,” says junior East High School student Johnny Benitez.
Des Moines public middle schools have also recently added digital citizenship lessons to curve bad social media habits early on.
“Everything you post no matter where you post,” said Snider. “Whether you think it’s going to disappear within 24 hours or not …think that the world may see this and do I want my name attached to this forever.”