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Christmas connections through social media!

Kathleen Tuite

By: KATHLEEN TUITE

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Now that Christmas is just around the corner you might be thinking of ways to share the end of year celebrations with families of children attending your ELC setting.  With this in mind, we wanted to remind you all of the many ways of connecting and how important it is to have some procedures in place and be mindful of using social media platforms.  Below we have compiled some useful information for you to consider.

Social media is a great tool for communicating in these challenging times. Below we look at some commonly used social media apps and frame the factors to consider carefully and thoroughly for managing their use.  Managing social media is the process of handling your online interactions and content across social media channels like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. Protecting settings, families and children’s privacy is of the utmost importance and having a robust Social Media Policy is essential in establishing boundaries for its use.

Whatever form of social media (if any) you decide to use to keep in contact with staff/families, you should:

  • Have a Social Media Policy in place and remind everyone in your group (staff and parents) about it.
  • Agree who will be the administrator (person responsible for setting up the app), nominating two people is best and decide the use and the purpose for which the app is being set up. Sharing information alone is best done in a group but keep photos and videos for sharing individually with a child’s family.
  • Follow all GDPR guidelines in relation to consent, sharing and retention of images.
  • Remind users that they must never download photos or videos from your page unless they are authorised to do so (e.g. photos of themselves or their child).
  • Remember what is shared on social media remains on social media and is out in the public domain. Did you intend to share? Is the content appropriate for a wider audience? Some conversations are best held off-line!

WhatsApp can be useful for group messages, to parents/families or staff, and you must obtain consent from all users that may be included in a messaging group before including them in the group. Ask people not to add images in a WhatsApp group. Leave this to the administrator to decide on sharing. Remember when you share a chat, photo, video, file or voice message with someone else on WhatsApp, they’ll have a copy of these messages. They’ll have the ability to re-share these messages with others on and off WhatsApp.  Keep confidentiality in mind.

 Facebook is probably the most common form of Social Media being currently used.  If you choose to upload photos or videos taken in your own setting or photos sent by parents, or staff, you must have consent for all to be used, even if children’s faces won’t be seen. Decide if you wish comments to be enabled and link this to your Social Media Policy also.

Instagram is a popular app and some settings use it to share material which parents contributed about what they and their children did while settings are closed. Over Christmas, parents might revive this, so it is important to remind them who can see images they want to post. Settings should receive images from parents via direct message and then share the selected material on their story. This means that images are visible only for 24 hours unless these are saved to highlights. It is advisable to have a policy to remind parents/ others not to screenshot or screen record Instagram stories of children/ staff.  

Social Media has made the world smaller and much easier to be in touch with people, especially family and friends abroad. In this unprecedented time using social media can keep us all in touch and feeling connected - with due consideration and care these media platforms are wonderful tools. Every Christmas families reunite as loved ones’ head back to their homes. This Christmas many families can’t do that so the positive power of social media cannot be overestimated. A quick refresh of your Social Media Policy will ensure that images are shared and enjoyed by all, in a fitting and appropriate way!

The draft policy here can support members to put together their Social Media Policy. And if you have any queries, contact our EYES team on 01 405 7103 or by email at eyes@earlychildhoodireland.ie

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