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Author Bio: PL Hade @HSSocialMedia

PL Hade is the author of Social Media for Student #Athletes, Digital Literacy courses and Teaching Social Media courses.  Her latest collaboration, a Social Media course that Middle and High School Coaches can use with their teams will be released on August 15’th.
Previous Blog: Top 10 Social Media Tips for High School Athletes

A lot of times it’s hard for High School athletes to look at what other students freely put out in their social media, because High School Athletes have to be careful of what they send out there.  They know that a tweet can cost them a state award (yes it’s happened), jeopardize a potential college roster spot (yes, it happens all the time) or get the entire team in trouble.  So High School Athletes often look at their non-athlete friends’ social feeds with some envy.  They see racist, misogynistic, derogatory posts and tweets filling up some of those feeds with no apparent repercussions.  They watch Twitter feuds, Instagram battles, RTs of sexually explicit content and it just doesn’t seem to be a big deal for those friends.

It is going to be a big deal; those friends just don’t know it yet.

Each year the percentage of college admissions departments who check a potential student’s social media increases.  40% of college admissions officers who were part of a 2016 Kaplan survey say they check applicant’s social media. (They also say that they occasionally get tips about a prospective student’s social showing inappropriate behavior and look into that.)  Students who are looking for scholarship or grant money will get their social scrutinized in most instances.  If the college is highly competitive, double down on the student character checking via social.  That kid who is sitting next to you in Physics and has a disgusting Instagram feed may not be feeling the effects now, but they will.

And employers have definitely embraced social media as a tool in job decisions.  Numbers vary depending on the study but somewhere around 60% of all employers in the US say they use social to screen candidates.  Half of those hiring managers also look at what other people are posting about the job seeker.  And, a majority reported that they are suspicious if they can’t find an online presence for a candidate, so wiping out social accounts will not help if they’re a mess.  Those racist or “BYOW” posts and tweets are going to catch up with students when they try to make a living.

Interestingly, neither the college admissions departments nor employers are going to tell a person that they didn’t pass the first level screening because of their social media; they are just going to cross the person off of their “potential” list.  There’s no “do-over,” for social; they’re done with you and on to the next candidate.

In the past few years landlords have also joined the social media screening movement. Want to rent an apartment?  Many landlords are going to check out your social media as well as your financial background.  They’re looking for character red flags, for a disrespect for other’s property, for mass social invitations to a party, for references to not paying obligations or disrespect for others.  Any of those characteristics may mean that the landlord’s property isn’t going to be well taken care of and they may not want you as a tenant.

Given all of the potential future repercussions, High School athletes probably have a huge advantage.  They know that their social media has to follow certain rules. They’re not going to be surprised a year or two from now when they apply to college, seek a job, try to rent an apartment or apply for a car loan and are turned down without explanation.  They know that their social contributes to their future well-being.

Not a bad skill to have.  Keep that in mind the next time you look at other students’ feeds.