With the prevalence of Facebook as one of the dominant social networks among young users, and the growing public awareness of issues like cyberbullying, online privacy, and digital literacy, the American School Counselor Association has combined with iKeepSafe, an Internet safety advocacy group, to publish a guide to help school counselors make sense of the platform and its on-campus impact.
Now, don't be fooled. "Facebook for School Counselors" is not actually a social media site (as at least one Digital Education blogger first believed.) But it is available for download, and it does offer tips for counselor actions in four areas:
1. Developing school policies.
2. Responding to online incidents that impact the school climate.
3. Helping the community define dangerous behavior on Facebook.
4. Educating students and staff about digital literacy.
A couple points of note:
• While it may be second-nature to Facebook users, the guide notes for counselors that a Facebook timeline is just a newer version of a Facebook profile.
• The guide lists fake profiles and cyberbullying among the dangers to the campus climate, but shies away from addressing other potential hazards, such as students posting sexually suggestive or explicit photographs or videos, online criticism directed at faculty or staff, and social media interactions between students and educators. Of course, a counselor's primary concern is the welfare of students, so issues regarding staff might not always fall under a counselor's authority.
• Online conflicts often have a face-to-face component, the guide suggests, and while Facebook has tools available to report inappropriate behavior to the site, many times the issue can be resolved by bringing all the students involved into the same room, it suggests.
At nine pages, the guide is a quick read. And if you're looking for more resources for other educators, you might want to check out the Facebook for Educators website.