Manners and the Media: Social Media Etiquette for Students


In an age of instant posting, messaging, tweeting, status sharing, etc., social media etiquette for students is an essential subject. Considering the global and permanent nature of the Internet is key. You might think that the comment or picture you posted this weekend will eventually disappear into cyberspace; however, that is not the case.

First, let me define social media as a form of online communication where information, personal messages and content are shared (Merriam-Webster definition). Some of the big social media platforms out there are:

According to a study done by VentureBeat (2014), “83 percent of teens in the U.S. aged 14-18 are on a social network” ( Students can use these social media platforms as a way to share what they were doing over the weekend with friends, see what their classmates were up to on their summer break, or send a picture of their new bunny slippers to their aunt in Texas.

Social media can be a great way to stay connected. However, it can also have very damaging effects when not used intentionally. Here are a questions students might ask surrounding social media and how WAITing can be helpful:

W – What impact will this photo really have?

Proverbs 22:1 reminds us that our reputation is worth a lot! Before posting the photo, understand that what you say and show will have implications… and as we stated before the impressions will be very public! Strangers might know what you are doing and where you are. Before posting the selfie of you in the bathroom, think do I really want everyone (i.e. my grandma, strangers, etc.) to see this photo of me in the bathroom?

What if the photo is not of you? If you post and tag your friends in a picture in which they have a big green thing stuck in their teeth, what if this picture comes up again when their employer is interviewing them? Think about the damage you could be doing to your friends’ reputation.


social media etiquette for students pin

A – Agree, happy, sad, depressed – I just want to share how I’m feeling.

Posting something (or sending a message) when you’re emotional is never a good idea. Waiting for a day or a least a few hours before you post or send something out over social media will help you to not say something you might later regret. Remember that once it is out there, it is out there!

Also remember that the Internet is a different method of communication than a face-to-face conversation. It is hard to convey tone with online writing. If you are USING ALL CAPS when you’re posting a caption, it will come across as SHOUTING. Do you really want to shout at the person at the other end of the computer?

I – I [just] liked it. Why does that matter?

When you hit like on a photo, status, or blog link on a friend’s account on Facebook, it might show up in your other friends’ news feed. This means that when your distant cousin or grandmother get on Facebook, they could see that you liked that silly photo of your friend with straws up his nose. They could also see if you commented on the status of your friend who was sharing about something inappropriate… just be careful and understand that when you interact with someone, it is visible to everyone else in your network.

T- This person doesn’t know me. Should I accept his or her friend request?  

I’m sure by now you’ve read stories or seen films where people are pretending to be someone they are not and tricking other people from the other end of the computer screen. Even if you feel that this person is truly trying to reach out for financial help or friends, it could be a phony. The best thing to do would be to show your parents the invitation and have them advise you if you should accept it or not. Your parents have been around longer then you have and might know a thing or two about this.   

Remember to let your communication be seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6) and be full of grace. I know this might seem a bit intense when all you are wanting to do is push the like button on your friend’s funny picture, but if social media is a method you are using to communicate with others, consider that it is important to use it wisely. How can WAITing help you weigh the positive and negative effects of social media?

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