Business, social media and children… A recipe for ‘ethical’ disaster?

 

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Business based social media accounts can be a risky affair. I’m sure all pages are created with good intentions, however various ethical issues (which are seldom given any degree of thought before making said accounts) can arise. Ethics are considered to be moral principles (BBC, 2014). The main ethical issue of interest that I will be discussing concerns working with children, and the following repercussions that can occur regarding social media use for business.

One personal implication of working with children is random ‘friend requests’ on Facebook. In many cases, the friend requests I receive are all from children under the age of 13. As quoted on the NSPCC website, “around half of 11 and 12 year olds have an under age profile in the UK” (Lilley and Ball, 2013). We are dealing with more than one ethical issue here – what will the child’s parents think if they see that I have accepted the friend request from their 10 year old son, as well as the fact that he has gone behind their back and created a Facebook account under age? O’Keeffe et al. (2011) says that “social media offers today’s youth a portal for entertainment and communication” – so we need to be careful how they use this ‘portal’.They may feel comfortable contacting you, and may need to talk to someone confidentially. The appropriate way to deal with this would be to speak to the child privately when you next see them, or speak to a manager. The Guardian (2014) reiterates that social media “has given a voice to people who have often felt excluded and powerless”. One child recently messaged my company’s Facebook page wanting to speak to someone about coming out.

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Another implication of working with children is the distribution of images on social media. Posting images of children online requires signed consent from parents. Even then, you have to ensure that all the pictures have been deleted from the original source. Furthermore, it is essential that you check the privacy of the picture you have just posted on the page – you could be placing the children involved at risk.

 

How about the other side of the story? What happens when pupils you work with are able to view your profiles and updates? Imagine the further uproar that could’ve been caused had Justine Sacco’s famous tweet (NY Times, 2015) been posted by a teacher.

 

 

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References

Lilley, C. and Ball, R. (2013) Youngerchildren and social networking sites: a blind spot. [London]: NSPCC.

“BBC – Ethics – Introduction To Ethics: Ethics: A General Introduction”. Bbc.co.uk. N.p., 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

Children And Teachers Social Media. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

“Implications Of Children Using Social Media”. ISYS6621: Social Media for Managers. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

O’Keeffe, G. S. and K. Clarke-Pearson. “The Impact Of Social Media On Children, Adolescents, And Families”. N.p., 2011. Print.

Ronson, Jon. “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’S Life”. Nytimes.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

“Twitter Abuse: Easy On The Messenger | Editorial”. the Guardian. N.p., 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

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5 thoughts on “Business, social media and children… A recipe for ‘ethical’ disaster?

  1. Hi Alice,

    I like your style of writing very much and consequently always find the time to read your blogs, does your degree involve much writing?

    In regards to this specific topic, you raise a very touchy subject in a professional manner. The ethical issues around working with children are numerous and over the past few years in light of the scandals at the BBC the issue has become a large one.

    You mention that you personally receive friend requests from children due to your line of work, how do you deal with these requests? Furthermore, does your employer have any guidelines on how to deal with children over social media? If I was in your situation, I imagine I’d feel rather uncomfortable accepting the request, yet empathetic to the wants/needs of the child. I think the ethics around behaving around children so harshly scrutinised by the public, avoiding contact with children via social media is the easiest, if not best policy. Do you find this to be the case?

    Really thoihg-provoking stuff Alice!

    Zac

    Like

    1. Hi Zac,

      thank you very much for your comments! The requests I receive make me feel slightly anxious that a pupil has somehow managed to find my account, yet I understand that children are children – it’s common behavior for them to be nosy and push the boundaries. All employees within the company are trained via a ‘safeguarding’ course – I found this was a brilliant way to inform large groups of people about the dangers and correct steps to take when dealing with such behavior from children. I totally agree with you that avoiding contact online is best when working with children – it’s far more professional to speak to the child when you see them next and ask if there are any issues.

      Thanks again!
      Alice

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Alice,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, I did not realise that underage users of Facebook had become an epidemic. Your topic relates well to previous topics of authenticity, if the children are lying about their ages. I also appreciate the personnel touch it has as you have made this issue centred around your experience.

    When you have received friendship requests from these children, did you report it to their parents or to Facebook directly? Do you feel that the age 13 is too low or high?

    You mentioned that the children may want to reach out to someone they feel comfortable talking to you. Would you say Facebook gives that platform for children to address their concerns without having to personally meet and discuss their issues? Would this justify their use of Facebook at an age below the age if it is in fact helping them?

    Nikhil

    Like

    1. Hi Nikhil,

      thank you for the comments on my blog post! When I initially received the requests I knew to ignore them – I contacted my manager who then spoke to the parents of the children, whilst I spoke privately with the children at the next class – asking whether there were any issues or reasons behind it. I believe the age of 13 is correct for Facebook use. I would say that no matter what the issue was, I would aim to speak to the child in person without any contact online, due to the nature of the situation – messages being deleted or misinterpreted etc. I do not believe that in any case it can justify the use of Facebook for children under 13.

      Thank you again for your comments!
      Alice

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello! It is an absolute pleasure it was your blog that intrigued me.

        I do agree with you that it is unacceptable to be on Facebook below the age of 13 with the amount they may be exposed to. I also feel parents should play an active role in monitoring their online presence or Facebook could invent a way to confirm the date of birth.

        Nikhil Anand

        Like

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