Student Athletes on Social Media: Education vs Monitoring

November 15, 2011 Kevin DeShazo Social Media Education Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

There’s a growing trend, and it’s a good one, where universities are investing in software that monitors what their student-athletes are saying on social media. This issue came about after UNC was sanctioned by the NCAA for a “failure to monitor social media.” How does it work? You plug in certain words that you don’t want your student-athletes mentioning on Twitter. It could be anything. Violence-related, sexual, drugs, alcohol, agents, money, etc.  When a student tweets something with one of your “red-alert” words, somebody in the department gets a notification and you deal with it appropriately.

It is something we offer through FieldTrack, our real-time monitoring service where we also track what is being said to and about your student-athletes by 3rd parties.  This is to help ensure compliance with your department’s social media regulations (remember – the NCAA does not have any social media guidelines), as well as to protect the image of your student-athletes and uncover opportunities for continued education and discussion. Missing a game is not near as severe as losing out on a future job because of an unfortunate tweet.

Contrary to the opinion of some, monitoring is not about spying – at least for us. We never have access to the private information of your student-athletes. We will never require something of them that we wouldn’t be comfortable requiring of our own children. It is simply a mechanism of protecting them during their time in the public eye. Protecting their present and future.

Monitoring is necessary. But it is secondary.

The issue is that many universities believe that monitoring solves their social media issue.  They choose monitoring over education.

The reality is that it’s not education or monitoring, it’s education and monitoring. Both are required in order for your program to have success, but education has to be the primary focus.  Our monitoring service is a complement to our education/training sessions. Combined, they minimize your risk.

If monitoring is your only solution, you will spend your time being shocked by what your student-athletes are saying online, and consistently implementing some form of discipline.

However, if you educate your kids on how to use social media properly, the time spent on discipline decreases dramatically.  Will you have issues? Sure, we’re talking about 18-22 year old kids. But those issues will be small. They’ll be teachable moments. They won’t be NCAA violations.

The need for monitoring won’t go away – it’s an issue of risk management and protection (for your student-athletes and the university).

But education and empowerment changes behaviors.

Combined, they set your student-athletes and your program up for social media success.

Fieldhouse Media is a firm dedicated to educating student-athletes and coaches on how to use social media in a positive, appropriate way. To find out more about us or to join the growing list of schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today.

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