A committee is a good vehicle for making policies and procedures. So I’m asking my Youth Ministry Committee to recommend some guidelines (cousins to policies, I know) to govern how adult staff and volunteers interact with youth using social media.
The first draft was too rigid. It didn’t allow for adult-to-youth text messaging without the burdensome requirement to copy a parent on all communication. It also prohibited the sharing of anything but information between youth and adults in digital threads, making a problem of the simplest expression from a teenager like, “I hate homework.” So I did some revisions, and this is my crowdsourcing attempt to get feedback before I share it with the committee next week.
Do these guidelines feel useful?
Adults should never interact with youth via Snapchat or any other platform which automatically deletes content shared by users.
Adults should not initiate online connections with youth. This includes “friend” requests on Facebook or “follows” on Instagram or Twitter.
If an adult is to accept a social media connection from one youth on any given platform, she should accept connection requests from all youth on that platform.
While youth are likely to openly share thoughts and feelings online, adults should take great care when expressing personal feelings to youth in digital communication.
Absent a parent or legal guardian’s written consent, adults may not share any personal information pertaining to youth online. This includes things like the youth’s name, email address, or photographs.
Here’s a link to the whole draft document, which includes a prefatory paragraph.
Thanks for sharing feedback in the comments.