Social networking sites, texting, e-mailing and other forms of electronic communication are a reality in the lives of most of our students. They offer an opportunity to develop and deepen relationships in new ways and are therefore a vital part of youth ministry work. But their improper use can produce serious consequences.
The following recommended practices and guidelines apply commonly accepted principles of healthy boundaries for digital networking and communication. Be mindful that our calling is to meet students where they are; model healthy boundaries; and love and care for students safely.
Youth leaderss who want to communicate with young people using text messaging, email, social networking websites or other forms of electronic media must agree to follow the guidelines.
- No matter who can view it, do not post anything that is inappropriate, offensive, abusive, pornographic, disrespectful or compromising. This includes photographs, use of language, your affiliation with groups or causes, checkins and recounting events.
- Set very stringent privacy settings on your account that is consistent with all young people and across all platforms.
- Paid leadership may consider having two accounts, one for personal use and one for professional use.
Connecting with young people
- Adult leaders should not connect with anyone under the legal age set by said website, often this age is 13.
- Use prudent judgment in the time you contact young people through social media. The “home phone rule” is a basic rule of thumb to use – normally do not text, chat, or email back-and-forth with students at a time you would not normally call their home phone line, i.e. before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM.
- If a young person texts you after hours and it’s not an emergency – wait until morning to reply.
- Be transparent in interactions..
- Do not delete any correspondence. This provides transparency should a query or complaint arise.
- Interactions whenever possible should be done in an open environment.
- If you have regular contact with a young person, your supervisor and their parents should be aware of the contact being made.
- Video Chatting with student is strongly discouraged – if you must, be aware of what you’re wearing and of your surroundings
We recommend youth groups create closed groups, not hidden, that youth and leaders can join. By doing this.
- Youth and leaders can interact without seeing each other personal accounts.
- It creates boundary lines and maintains healthy boundaries.
- Appropriate members in the group would be current youth members, leaders and parents.
- Group membership should be trimmed as people graduate from or leave youth group.
- Regularly check group discussions, do not tolerate bullying or inappropriate use.
- Any inappropriate material posted in your online groups should be deleted and addressed or reported if necessary.
- Youth leaders driving on ministry business are to avoid mobile phone use—even hands-free—when transporting young people.
- Youth leaders are never to send or read text messages while driving.
Concerns that arise
- If you are concerned about the behaviour or profile of a young person or a leader report this to the next level of authority and if appropriate discuss privately with the person (in person) in a polite manner that is in a public place but not overheard.
- If youth are concerned about the safety of a young person report this to the next level of authority.
Facebook Code of Conduct.
Facebook can be great, it can also be awful.
As those who have chosen to identify with Jesus we want to maintain a sense of dignity and positivity here.
Like if you agree with, and commit to, the following.
1] We will honour God
2] We will respect genders, races, sexuality and religions without prejudice or negative/insulting remarks.
3] We will conduct ourselves with dignity
4] We will not post any:
offensive language [including swearing and sexual remarks]
inappropriate photos or links
5] We will commit to being positive and friendly in our involvement. This includes Facebook hacks; be funny and creative; not crude.
“Be careful how you live, as wise not unwise, redeeming the time because the days are evil”