Social Networking May Interfere With Success

By: Jenna Savage

If you are a prospective psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other psychology practitioner, you will be working with patients after you graduate, and you will be held to a high standard of professionalism. You will be expected to maintain confidentiality, and to avoid being disrespectful to your patients, coworkers, and employers. You will be expected to follow such guidelines both in the office and outside of the office, with conduct guidelines extending into the realm of social media, as the practice of viewing Facebook and other social media profiles is becoming increasingly common within academia and the working world. It is therefore important for you to make sure that you uphold professional standards – not only once you are employed, also before you begin interviewing. In fact, it is wise to refrain from posting anything too offensive or distasteful on the Internet, even if you are still just a student.

It turns out that social networking websites can harm your ability to find employment, and can even affect your academic standing in school. According to Inside Higher Ed, a mortuary science student named Amanda Beth Tatro lost a Minnesota Supreme Court case that addressed the university’s response to her Facebook conduct. The Supreme Court upheld the school’s decision to fail Tatro for the unprofessional comments she made about a cadaver. According to the Court, the decision to fail her did not violate her First Amendment right, and schools are permitted to punish students for off-campus speech if it interferes with the university’s work and discipline.

That situation wasn’t the first of its kind. According to Inside Higher Ed, four students were kicked out of Johnson County Community College for posting pictures of themselves with a human placenta on Facebook. The school considered the pictures to be inappropriate and unprofessional, and it cost the students their education.

If those two cases are not enough to make you pause before posting questionable pictures or status updates to Facebook or other social networking websites, there’s more. Research, which will be published in the International Journal of Work Innovation, has shown that Facebook can interfere with a person’s ability to secure a job, EurekAlert! reports. Florida International University researchers Vanessa A. de la Llama, Isabel Trueba, Carola Voges, Claudia Barreto, and David J. Park studied employers within six different industries, and found that many of them use Facebook to weed out employees based on their social networking conduct.

Facebook therefore has the potential to interfere with student and employee success. As it becomes increasingly screened by potential employers, professors, and school administrators, individuals – both students and non-students – are encouraged to play it safe. Avoid posting anything that may be misconstrued as offensive, disrespectful, or unprofessional. Be aware of your security settings, and refrain from doing anything that may indicate to others that you are not worth hiring. That way, Facebook and other websites will not cause you to miss out on opportunities for success.