My Quest To Teach

July 28, 2014

A Student’s Social Media SWAG

A High School Student’s Social Media SWAG
by William Jackson, M.Ed.
My Quest To Teach

High School seniors is your Social Media SWAG ready for a new school year???

The reason for this blog is that recent research from the Pew
Internet Project suggests that 93% of Americans from ages
12 to 17 use the Internet, and 65% to 79% of those teens
use social networks. Most online interaction is for fun, there
are still dangers that parents and teens need to
understand. Even educators and professionals can
learn a lot from their online activity and the perceptions
that are created from online interactions.
SWAG is a contagious concept, but is SWAG killing
a student’s reputation and harming their future?

High school students should be cautious of the content
they are posting online; they should be clear that their
content cannot come back to harm them later. Parents
are the one’s footing the bills for Smartphones, Internet
access, Tablets and other devices their children are using.
Parents need to remind their children of the dangers
don’t see online, and teach online safety practices are a
part of parenting. I have told my own children that “they
may think they know more about technology, but
I know more about life and the dangers of our world.

The infusion of Social Media networks, platforms, and
tools is allowing created content by teens and young
adults to be posted at an alarming rate. Youth, adolescents,
teens, young adults transitioning through high schools
are connected by tools they do not fully understand.
The expansion of Social Media in the last five years
has been a thousand fold in usage, integration and
absorbsion of our young people’s lives on social platforms
that are ever expanding and changing. The concern is that
the majority of those from ages 14 to 19 fail to understand
that their postings never go away. The reality is that content
by text, pictures, video, tweets and other forms create
a perception of that person that will be available for
years to come. This will influence employment options,
educational opportunities, earning scholarships, being
awarded internships and even entry into military service.

Just because you can use every Social Media platform
does not mean you’re a technology expert and people will
run to hire you, give you scholarships, think you are worthy
of internships or the military or government will send Black
SUV’s to your door to save the world from global destruction.
Because of the type of content that is created the opposite
will be true. People with employment, scholarships and
internships maybe running digitally the other direction because
of wrong perceptions.
Monica Vila, founder of, has been
quoted about the importance of Social Media (SM)
content; “Certain technical skills in the coming years are
not going to be just about consuming media,” “It is also
going to be about producing media. It is not just about
writing a blog, but also how to leave comments that say
something. Learning to communicate like this is contributing
to the general circulation of culture.” Digital Media literacy
is growing and important in understanding how to create
and use content in positive ways.

Youth as they mature must learn that their content has value
and meaning, learn how to manage and produce content
(information) that enhances them and brings value.
Parents should have conversations on the value of sharing
information, anything from a video clip on Vine, a profile
page on LinkedIn or
page Bio is going to expose
skills to the world, high school seniors need to practice and
show positive and productive content all the time because they
never know who is watching.
Minority youth especially need to be cautious because
perceptions by society are already manipulated by movies,
videos, news sound bytes and music videos that depict
youth of color in a bad light. This causes many to already judge
minority youth harshly with suspicion. SWAG online can hurt
teens, create suspicions and uncertainties.
Admissions officers in higher education, private schools,
charter schools are really looking at Facebook profiles of
prospective students. They are researching Twitter feeds,
Instagram pictures and videos and postings on Vine, as well
as other Social Media Networks.

Having spoken to high school students in programs like
Learn2Earn Experience, Black Male College Explorers Program,
Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, Journey Into Womanhood,
AKA Leadership Summit, African American Episcopal
Church Leadership Summits, Hip Hop Summits and other venues
students do not understand the potential negative influences
of their postings referring to SWAG.
Articles such as how FACEBOOK May Influence Your
Job Prospects
What employers think of Facebook Pages
helps to educate the effects of posting and content on SM and SMN.

Talking to my high school Black Male College Explorer students about
careers in STEAM, I emphasis they are an investment and have
to be prepared and qualified for new careers. “If I’m an employer
about to make a major investment in someone they will need
all the tools necessary to make the investment worth the cost.”
William Jackson, Black Male College Explorers educator and
STEAM Educator

“SWAG applied in the wrong way won’t earn a person a job,
help obtain a degree or receive a promotion” William Jackson

No one likes to be judged productivity and qualified is a defining
key if a person will be employed. Employers are stalking potential
interviewers with the attitude why interview when you can
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Vine investigate? Viewing
SM content employers can judge candidates’ prospective work
performance and ethics by spending five to ten minutes lurking
on their Social Media pages. The use of these SM tools also
gives employers a view into the personal lives of the employees
or potential workers. How well they treat their parents and other
family members, use of drugs, drinking, badmouthing former
employers, and lying about one’s qualifications, how is their
work ethic and habits and importantly what type of student are they.

Whether we accept this or not Social Media sites are digital
windows for our real world selves. Profiles on Facebook, Pinterest,
Google+, Twitter, et. al. reflect likes, dislikes, personalities and
priorities. Photos and video are useful to employers in seeing
what we might be like to work with than a short interview.
Potential work place and school violence is being judged by
online postings of schools, employees, the degree of emotional
stability of high school students, introversion, bullying and
dealing with stresses.

Grandmothers and grandfathers use to say you should always
wear clean underwear because you never know who will see you,
now the saying goes you should always have clean Social Media
because you never know who is stalking you to give a job or scholarship.
Educators also cannot afford to let it “hang out” on weekends and
holidays, because their students and parents will judge them outside
of the educational profession. Just like law enforcement officers, judges,
attorneys, doctors and those in other professions. Tapping into
information can create opportunities for advancement or
demotion, disciplinary measures and even cases of unemployment.

High school students maybe building their digital SWAG, but must have
a SWAG investment image not an anti-social image. SWAG should
be a Marketing and Branding tool not a tool for profanity, displaying
drug usage, sexual situations and criminal activities.

Technology can be a high schools students best friend or worst enemy,
they determine which by the content they produce and post.
Students and parents should ask “where does SWAG fit in for me online?”
High school students Google yourself and view your content as a business
owner, would you hire yourself? Would you give yourself a scholarship or
an internship? It is still important to talk to guidance counselors about career
and educational options.

Don Kluemper, of Northern Illinois University involved in various research
projects with Social Media states, “We were able to better predict a student’s
academic success based on their Facebook pages than on the cognitive
tests now.”
Parent and students need to be aware and diligent in what is posted and
shared. Start asking your self Is SWAG killing your reputation and changing
people’s perceptions of yourself? Stated earlier Google yourself to see
what the world or your community sees about you. Parents Google your
children, because in some cases schools and law enforcement agencies
are. Be prepared for potential challenges with posted content either positive
or negative. Your child’s future may depend on it.


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