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Child Protection The Coach Diary

Making contact via social media!

We live in a world where people talk (face-to-face and by phone) less but interact more online. Social skills are declining.  As a coach you need to know what is appropriate and what’s not. For those of you on Facebook, getting a friend request from students/players you coach/teach (or interact with) is more than likely a regular occurrence. My advice to you is DO NOT accept and if you have already I suggest you de-friend or if that’s not an option then edit privacy settings.

You’re probably asking, ‘What’s the big deal?’

…..well let me start by saying there could be a child welfare issue and you may not even know it. Also your club may have rules around social media in the same way lots of schools do.

I’ve noticed a lot of teams setting up their own private groups and some with kids as young as u12s. Firstly kids need to be 13 before they are legally allowed use social networking sites like Facebook and secondly the private pages with kids (and I have thought of doing one for our team) that parents don’t have access to might actually seem suspicious to some, even thought the group page is perfectly normal to you. With Children gaining access to social media sites at a younger age (and they may have only set-up their profile to be part of your group), could expose them to content, people or situations that are out of their depth and which they’re not emotionally prepared for and you don’t want this falling back on your shoulders. Plus most teenagers will not enter into a group that their parents are also part of, however this will certainly vary with age. 

What’s the alternative…?

A like page might be another option and this way others will be able to see what your discussing but you may not want to give away some of your tactics…… but hey – if Ajax can share, then so can you!!!

Setting up ‘pages’ for classes, schools, clubs might be the better way to go. Students/Players can ‘like’ the page to get updates from it and interact with its wall in the same way they might with a teachers personal profile. You get all the benefits, with much less of the risk involved (personally and professionally) of ‘friending’ students. Pages are also a better way to share digital content.

From a club’s perspective it is easier to write policies and manage the risks if they allow ‘pages’, but disallow coaches to connect via their profiles. There certainly are many benefits to pages and groups with your team but there are also many reasons why not to start one, particularly for some of the younger ages, this might differ for kids aged 15+.

I’ll finish by saying personally I feel NO contact via social media (especially for under 15s) with students/players is probably the safe options. If you like to keep your private life private then don’t enter into contact with players via personal FB page and there is no harm in letting them know that you’d prefer not to be ‘friend requested’ for this very reason. At the same time if you’re working with a older group of teenagers there is certainly good reasons to make contact this way as this might be the only way you can reach them. Most 16 year olds I know, never have credit!!

Let me know how you feel about this and if you have set up a group of any sort or a page for your team?

Do you think it’s ok for coaches to interact with players via social media and what age do you think it’s acceptable?

As you have read I’m not totally against the idea as there are benefits.

-End

I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me info@thecoachdiary.com, if you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend.

Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

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