Now that more organizations are taking their operations online, social media is imperative to staying relevant and connected to the community. However, it’s important to keep safety and security as a top priority when you develop your social media policy. The following are guidelines you should follow.
Guidelines for staff members and volunteers
- Adults should not send “friend” requests to youth with whom they work. There’s an unequal balance of power in those situations, and the children may feel obligated to accept the request. Adults should only connect with youth when the child initiates the contact.
- Respect boundaries. Social media should mirror the policies you establish for your staff and volunteers in regular life. For example, a camp counselor would not take a child aside to spend time with him or her alone. Similarly, a counselor shouldn’t be having a private conversation with a child via social media.
- Establish a no-tolerance policy for bullying. Both adults and children can bully others—both publicly and privately—through social media. Make it clear to all staff and volunteers that this is not acceptable, and that they are expected to report any incidents of bullying.
Guidelines for your organization
- Monitor social media accounts regularly. Remember, social media is open to the public, which means that anyone can post anything. Assign a staff member or volunteer to check each account used by the organization daily and delete inappropriate comments or posts.
- Respect copyright laws. Just because an image or video is available online doesn’t mean you can use it on your social media page and/or website. Check whether it is protected by copyright and, when appropriate, ask permission for use from the image’s creator.
- Don’t tag photos. Let the members of your social networking community decide when and how they want to be identified in photos. They can tag themselves. Or, they may want to remain anonymous because a) they don’t like having a large social media presence, or b) they don’t like how they looked in that particular photo.
- Remember that everything you share is public. Don’t have private conversations with others in your group in public areas of social media sites. If a situation arises, send a private message—or, better yet, take it offline.
- Use private groups when needed. In some situations—such as when working with youth—it is better to communicate within a private group. Investigate the options for the specific social media site you want to use.
Social media can be an incredible tool to increase connection in your community, but only when it’s used properly. For more digital and online safety resources, visit our Risk Resources library.
The information contained in these materials is intended solely to provide general guidance on topics that may be of interest to you. While we have made reasonable efforts to present accurate and reliable information, Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions, or for any actions you take or fail to take based on these materials. The information provided may not apply to your particular facts or circumstances; therefore, you should seek professional advice prior to relying on any information that may be found in these materials.