How Am I Supposed to Teach Social Media Etiquette in 2017?

I speak to thousands of students every year about social media safety and etiquette.  One of the key messages I want young people to take-away from my presentations is that what you post online can affect your future.  To that end, I spend a lot of time showing students of all ages the difference between "appropriate" posts vs. "inappropriate" posts.  

While I make sure that students know that even though everyone is entitled to determine for themselves what's okay and not okay to post, they must understand that posting on social media could lead to very real consequences even if they truly believe what they posted is appropriate to share on social media.  

It is however, VERY DIFFICULT to explain to young people why it's not okay for them to bully or lie online when the person who holds the highest office in the land does just that and doesn't seem to have to pay any consequences for his actions.  I've heard time and time again, "Why can the President tweet things like that and not get in trouble but I do?".

While I struggle with the answers to questions like that, what I saw this morning on the President's Twitter account makes my job and that of all parents and educators who are trying to teach social media etiquette even harder.

There is NO DOUBT that this is a prime example of online bullying.  Making fun of a woman like this (as well as name-calling with a term like "psycho") on social media should not be condoned and in fact, should be slammed.  The fact that the two tweets have 26,000 and 24,000 likes after only 2 hours of being posted is appalling and these tweets should be used by all parents (regardless of political affiliation) as an example to teach their kids about what NEVER to do online.  

Young people should be able to look up to their President as a model of exemplary behavior. The person that holds that office should be our "educator-in-chief" when it comes to modeling good behavior both online and off.  I hope that adults will, instead of "liking" tweets like this, use them as teachable examples to discuss with kids why NOT to name-call and make fun of people online.

We should be teaching our young people to NOT take their disputes onto social media - NOTHING good ever comes from doing that.  

While we are all entitled to our opinions, it must be said that just because you have an opinion doesn't mean you should share it online!

Julie Fisher, M.Ed., is the founder of The Social U and consults with schools, organizations and individuals through the MJ Fisher Group.  

Twitter: @Julz Fisher, @the_social_u