Netiquette for College Students

A Q&A with a UCIPT Postdoctoral Researcher

In general, what guidelines should professors and educators follow when communicating with their students via Twitter?

Social media can be an effective way to engage students in higher education. Numerous research studies and case studies have reported that social media can be a powerful tool to promote classroom discussion, increase student participation, and help students learn to communicate in a concise manner. Several UCLA professors are currently using social media as a teaching tool. Some of the tactics for using Twitter to communicate with students include being transparent and professional, and it can be helpful to assign a course #hashtag and provide training to students so that they understand expectations when using social media. You can find out about UCLA social media guidelines here.

What netiquette do you recommend for students to minimize stress while engaging with each other on social media sites?

Social media netiquette recommendations are available online for both businesses and individuals. I think one thing that students can do to minimize stress while engaging with each other on social media is to avoid posts that involve the promotion of violence or could be seen as discriminatory, defamatory, or obscene. Overall, I think it’s important to be sensitive to different races, religions, and cultures.

What is the right way for students to handle a dispute with their friends over social media?

I think everyone has the right to express his or her opinion, whether it is positive or negative. However, there will be times that certain actions are required to deal with particular posts. Sometimes it is best not to respond to a post. However, in certain situations (e.g., cyberbullying, threats) you may be required to inform the authorities. Here is an example of how UCLA suggests handling inappropriate posts.

What is the right way for students to handle a romantic breakup over social media?

Romantic breakups can be extremely difficult and stressful. Based on a recent report from the Pew Research Center, an in-person talk is viewed as the most socially acceptable way to end a romantic relationship, followed by a phone call. Breaking up with someone using social media is largely frowned upon. I think it is respectful to handle a romantic breakup in person rather than over social media. After the breakup, it is important to avoid posting anything that may be harmful to the other individual. Based on the Pew report, 63% of teen daters agreed that social media allows people to offer support when romantic relationships end, while 37% found that others are too nosy. Here are some helpful ways to cope with breakups.

What is the right way for college students to handle a cyberbully or cyberstalker over Twitter?

Cyberbullying and cyberstalking are serious issues that can cause tremendous distress. Based on a recent study, about 40% of American adults have experienced some form of online harassment and 8% have experienced cyberstalking. Popular social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have adopted measures to mitigate this problem, such as the ability for users to report inappropriate posts. I think it is important for everyone to report inappropriate posts so that individual accounts can be blocked. Currently, many states have cyberbullying and cyberstalking legislation in development or already in place. Thus, it is also important to report this sort of behavior to authorities before it gets out of hand.

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