Safety guidelines for students
The internet, and increasingly, social media is becoming a bigger part of
You use it for news, events, talking to your friends at Uni and back home; you’re even receiving more communications from the University via social media.
Though the web can make studying more efficient, as a busy student your personal safety online is often at the bottom of your list.
So, we have created this short guide to staying safe online while making the most of what social media can offer you.
Don’t be an over-sharer
It is not only your friends, the University and employers who can see your posts, but fraudsters can too!
- Protect your personal information. Limit personal details included on your profiles - try not to publicly post things like your address, birthday, contact details etc...
- Think about who you’re sharing your information with. Only accept people you know and consider your privacy settings.
- If you’re going to post information about someone else, check with them first. This includes photos from your night out; ask your friends before you post embarrassing pictures of them online. In fact – if they are inappropriate – it is probably best to keep them to yourself.
- We understand if you’re coming to the University for the first time that you want to make friends before you arrive and work out who you will be living with. But please, don’t publicly share where your home will be for the next year. Even though your housemates might see this, so can everyone else. In fact, this is something to bear in mind throughout the year, not just on Arrivals Weekend. Don’t share when you’re going away and your house will be empty, or if you’re standing at Keynes bus stop by yourself because you missed the bus.
- Think about how much of your information is held on your computer - all your passwords, all those questions answered when you sign-up for another online service. Protect this information by making sure your computer is protected when you browse online.
The University offers free anti-virus software to keep your laptop protected.
Protect your rep
What’s OK with friends isn’t just with friends on social media.
- Employers are increasingly using social media to research candidates. There have been cases where students have been unsuccessful for a graduate position because of something they’ve said on social media. One student actually tweeted how they couldn’t be bothered with an interview, the employer saw this and mentioned it at the interview... they didn’t get the job.
- We do keep an eye on what people are saying about the University on social media. We ask you not to say anything that could bring the University into disrepute. So, make sure you have read and understood the University’s regulations before you mention us in your social media.That said, we do want your feedback, social media is a channel you can use to let the University know if you're dissatisfied with something. Just keep it professional.
- Even though a healthy debate is good fun, sometimes it’s best to avoid difficult conversations online. This way you’re less likely to cause offence and, possibly, get into legal troubles.
- Don’t drink and tweet. When you’re drinking or if you have been drinking alcohol it’s best to avoid social media. As highlighted in the Stacey case study below, when you’re a little bit tipsy is when you’re most likely to post something you don’t mean.
- Don’t send your embarrassing stories to faceless Facebook and Twitter accounts. Recently we have seen various Facebook pages pop up where you can post stories and comments anonymously. Even though the general public, Mum, Dad (etc…) don’t know it’s you the admins certainly do. So, before you contribute to these sites, THINK – would I tell someone in the street, I don’t know or trust, this story? It’s quite possible it could come back to bite you in the future.
Case study: What you say online can be life-changing
An example of the severe repercussions a single tweet can have is when 21-year-old student Liam Stacey was jailed after tweeting racist comments following footballer Fabrice Muamba’s on-pitch collapse.
After release, Liam found he had been kicked off his course at university. Since, he has expressed his shock at the rapid speed that his tweet spread across the country and said that he was under the influence of alcohol when he sent the tweet.
We are not excusing this behaviour at all, but we just want you to remember social networks are public forums and you must behave responsibly, the repercussions can be life-changing.
Some people think they can get away with being abusive online and hide behind a Twitter name, as you can see from the Stacey case study above, this is simply not the case.
- Don’t be abusive – this includes inappropriate swearing and personal attacks.
- Bullying, in any form, isn’t tolerated at the University – whether it is in the classroom or on Facebook.
- Don’t break the law – this includes posting confidential information, other people’s content or information you haven’t gained their permission to use. And remember, most of our prospective students are under 18 and therefore considered minors, bear this in mind when talking to them online.
- Read the house rules for each social media site you use. These set out how sites expect you to behave on their network. If you break these rules you can be excluded from the site and you might even have charges made against you.
- One final thing to remember, and is often forgotten, is think about what sites you’re visiting on a University desktop or when using our network. When you visit a site details about you and the networking are logged, so behave responsibly. If you don’t behave responsibly, you can easily be identified and you might bring the University’s reputation into disrepute. Think carefully before you start clicking dodgy links.
Policies to refer to
We recommend you read the following policies to make sure you are abiding by the University’s rules when using social media.
- Dignity at Study Policy on our regulations page
- Equality and diversity
- General University regulations
- IT regulations
- Social media at Kent
You will also find some wise words at - 12 things you shouldn’t do on social media.
If you have any questions about staying safe online or any of the mentioned policies please email: email@example.com