A social media policy for students that may work for IT departments, too

I am often proud to be a Ryerson University alumni, but perhaps particularly so today.
The school recently sent me a list of tips culled together from its experts in technology and social media that will be distributed to incoming and current students on how to best make use of the many tools and platforms available to them for connecting, expressing and so on. As I read through it, much of it seemed common sense, a great deal of it I'd heard before, and there wasn't a lot of value for me personally.
Then I realized that, much as school taught me the fundamentals of writing and reporting, such institutions are in a natural position to offer the basics on something like these software programs as well. I've sometimes wished I were a student again, so that I would be taught some of the things, around search engine optimization and so on, that I have to Google around for today.
Similarly, it strikes me that many IT managers would probably like to have something on hand they can easily edit, amend or otherwise change to suit their needs, particularly since such policies quickly become more of an HR thing than than IT deparment thing proper. I also realized that what may be common sense to me might be relevatory for someone else. That's what learning is all about. With that in mind, I reproduce their tip sheet in full. Hope it's helpful.
Using Social Media at School

1. Learn with the Internet, but don't believe it. Sharpen your critical thinking skills. The goal of higher education is to create critical thinkers who can weigh and evaluate knowledge and information, and reach their own conclusions. If you are unsure why you believe something, you should stop and reflect on where you got your information and how valid it is. Look for a variety of conflicting sources and make your own decisions.

2. Use social media at school to enhance your learning and the university experience. Learning happens through people sharing knowledge and experience. Use chat and Twitter to share information. Blogs offer many stories and experiences. Wikis and web pages organize information. Youtube and Flickr document lives and events. Google helps you find all of this. Recognize the value of social media as both a learning tool and a form of personal expression.

3. Keep your social networks separate from your professional networks. Current and future employers and professors are not the same as 'friends.' They don't need to know that you hate your job (or their course), or that you called in 'sick' as an excuse to go on holiday. Use different social networking platforms for social and professional identities. For example, use LinkedIn to network with coworkers and industry professionals, but use Facebook for your friends and family.

4. Know the difference between collaboration and cheating. Cheating is cheating, no matter where it occurs and cheating online has realworld consequences. Study groups are often allowed and encouraged – just follow the rules. If it seems wrong, it probably is, so ask what your professor allows.

5. Don't let social networking take up all of your time. It's as important to make face-to-face contact as it is to nurture your online networks. What's more, you have to make time for studying and getting some exercise too! If you think that you might be spending too much time online, try limiting your emails and online social networking to no more than a couple of hours each day. Set a time limit on your socializing, or save it as a reward for completing your homework or other required tasks.

Things to Remember When Using Social Media

1. Everything you do on the Internet is available to employers, parents and future partners.

2. There is no anonymity on the Internet. If you post it, someone will find it.

3. Students are eager to meet other students and socialize online and offline – use your discretion before accepting new `friends' – do you know who that person really is? When meeting online friends for the first time, do it in public with your real life friends.

4. Public information is what you share with the world. Personal information is what you share with friends. Private information should not be online. Restrict access to your social media profiles, but controlling friends is the best way to control access to your personal information.

5. Include friends and family in your social network and you will never be embarrassed.

6. Most social networking sites collect information about you and use it for profit. Make sure you know the organizers of a group before you join. Double-check to see if it is a legitimate group and decide if you want to share your information with this group.

7. The Internet is timeless; a photo you post on the web will probably outlive you.

8. Never press 'send' when tired or emotional. Like a conversation, those words can't be taken back once uttered. Unlike a conversation, those words are preserved forever in writing.

9. Don't hesitate to complain and report what you believe to be abuse or fraud on social networking sites.

10. You are the Internet – you create it. Share your stories, dreams and creativity with the world.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Shane Schick
Shane Schick
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