As many of you know I decided to go to university last year to get my degree and have written before about how shocked Iv’e been about the apparent ignorance of new university students when it comes to their online presence. As a point of reference I class new university students as those coming straight from high school with no ‘real life/work experience’. It’s one thing that many students don’t know what a blog even is, which is fine if you don’t have a reason to have one but more importantly is the lack of awareness of the privacy issues associated with their favourite social networking sites. Hardly any students I have asked knew about customising their privacy settings in Facebook or the dangers of adding everyone that requests an invite. So just how important is it for people to be aware of these types of things? Should it be part of the curriculum for students in high school or college/university?

It’s hard to avoid the thousands of blogs posts are articles out there explaining how we are living in an increasingly digital world and with a large portion of the 15 – 25 year old portion on facebook and online in general I think it’s important to ensure they know the long term consequences of what they post online. Here are some of the main reasons I think justify why all young adults should take a class in online etiquette and in this post social networking in particular.

Once on the web, you have no control over it

You all hear about those videos, pictures and posts that are one minute innocently (or sometimes not so innocently) posted online only to go viral for the world to see. Now it’s one thing to post your house party as an open event on facebook (see Corey for an example) or lose a little bit of dignity when a video you would rather forget about makes the news (like this girl) but there are more serious repercussions like being tagged in a photo from that awesome festival the day you were suppose to be off work sick (like this guy). Just think  about it, you spend months posting posts on your wall about how you are hung over at work or so bored you had a two hour lunch when the boos was out – you apply for a new job, why would an employer hire you if they see your work attitude?

Once on the web, always on the web

There is no denying it. Once something is online people share it, that’s often especially true of the things you wish nobody saw. Be careful what you post, it might just come back one day to haunt you.

Um what is she wearing!?

That sexy bikini shot may make you popular with those creepy people on facebook that email you telling you how hot you are but when it comes to trying to make a good impression, for example to an employer that same photo is likely to see you overlooked no matter how perfect the job is for you. Be careful with the photos you show, nobody wants to hire someone who doesn’t look professional and nobody wants to date someone when there seems to be photographic evidence of you having kissed every guy in the state.

You are going on holiday huh, oh look there is your address!

Posting your address or even your phone number is very risky! Don’t think it’s just your friends that can see it, if they are your friends they know your address so don’t post it online! If you post you and your family are going on holiday, then you might as well post ‘here is my address, my house can be robbed between January 31st and February 22nd when we will get back about 5pm. P.S dog is at grandmas so you won’t be disturbed’. Think about what you are sharing and for that matter be careful about the information those 3rd party apps ask you for!

Students have to realise that in this digital world it’s not just employers looking at your profile (and those creepy spammers), don’t disregard university admissions having a look too!

So what is the golden rule I think everyone should follow?

If you don’t want your mother, employer or the person it’s about to see it – THEN DON’T POST IT!

Do you have any other rules you would add?