New guide to Facebook helps school counselors create better digital citizens

May 1, 2012 11:39am


By Emily Eckland, NCSA Managing Editor of Digital Media

Today’s generation of children can sync digital devices to computers and troubleshoot problems with the click of a mouse.

But they may not be able to handle the overwhelming situations online and problems that arise from making uninformed decisions.

That’s where educators come in. School counselors can play a vital role in helping students learn to make safe, smart and responsible choices online.

However, it can be difficult to help students become better digital citizens if you don’t understand how they are using technology and social networks.

To remedy this, our friends at the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) recently partnered with Facebook (an NCSA Board Member company) to develop the Facebook Guide for School Counselors

The guide has four suggested action items for school counselors: develop school policies, respond to online incidents that impact learning conditions, detect at-risk behavior and learn about technology literacy, online reputation and social awareness.

The guide also discusses potential situations that can arise online, such as problems with bullying, reputation, identity theft and cyber crimes. It teaches counselors everything from basic Facebook settings to how to detect at-risk behavior.

Emily Ensign, iKeepSafe’s Director of Content Development, says it’s important for all schools to build a positive school climate where students feel safe sharing information that may be of concern.

“Building an environment of trust and understanding is essential,” Ensign says. “Teachers, school counselors, administrators – all school staff – need to be proactive rather than reactive.”

iKeepSafe offers these tips:

  • Review and update your acceptable use policy (AUP)
  • Work as a team to develop strategies for managing cyberbullying and harassment
  • Build a positive school climate where students feel safe
  • Teach students to proactively protect their classmates from harassment and harm by being upstanders rather than bystanders.
  • Ensure students and faculty are alert to red flags and know how to respond

iKeepSafe hopes the guide will show educators how important the online world is to children, and how their actions can profoundly affect their offline world.

“We all want to keep our kids safe, but that won’t happen if we create barriers and block device usage,” iKeepSafe CEO & President Marsali Hancock says.

“Only when we empower them to explore their connected world will they be keyed in to the pitfalls and advantages of social navigation across all platforms.”

The Facebook for School Counselors is free and available to download at www.facebook.com/safety or www.facebook.com/education.