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Graduates 'will miss out on top jobs' over careless online posts


Getty Images

Getty Images

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TOP graduates could find themselves unemployable because of what they are posting online, a social media expert warned.

Teachers are being urged to advise students they will be "googled" as the informality of social media leads to a merging and blurring of professional and personal boundaries.

Teachers also need to heed it themselves as their own social media exposure could alienate parents, who may not be impressed by some of their activities, a conference heard.

Teachers needed to be mindful of privacy settings and take communications with students very seriously and "consider very carefully the kinds of platforms with which they were engaging".

Dubliner Bernadette John, who lectures in Digital Professionalism at King's College London, said it was becoming increasingly common for employers to check out the digital profile of prospective recruits.

In some cases, people had been asked to open their Facebook accounts at interviews, she said. While she would regard such a request as a violation of human rights, students needed to be guided on "how to bat it back".

She was addressing the annual conference of Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI). The ETBs have replaced vocational education committees (VECs) and will also be taking over the training functions of FAS.


Speaking about the opportunities and risks that social media presented for teachers and students, Ms John said people needed to realise that with hundreds or perhaps thousands of "friends" or "followers", their conversations were not private.

Students needed to think about what a future employer might discover in one or five years' time. She also spoke about the dangers for teachers of engaging in innocent activity of posting holiday or other snaps. Parents or students may not enjoy sharing teachers' pictures of holidays in Barbados or a fast new car, which may make them feel that they are in a different social class.

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Ms John referred to recent cases in the UK and US, one where a teacher and teaching assistant were fired for online posts labelling their pupils "inbred" and "thick" and said they shopped in a particular supermarket.

She said a basic understanding of the principles of social media was essential for teachers and students because online conversations were permanently recorded, publicly broadcast, not private, infinitely searchable and endlessly quotable.

"Young people may be technologically adept, but they require guidance and support to ensure that they take a long-term view of the potential consequences of the material they share online," she said.