Guidelines for Using Social Networks with Minors
Teachers, catechists, those involved in parish ministry, and other members of school or parish staffs are allowed to establish Facebook® and other social networking groups or sites for personal use. Keep in mind that the policies and practices of the Acceptable Use and Responsibility Policy for Electronic Communications (Archdiocesan AUP) apply to all interactions on the Internet that may implicate the parish, school, archdiocese, or Church. Even if you’re engaging in private social interactions, you should strive to adhere to the Christian values that underlie the Archdiocesan AUP. Minors should be encouraged to understand and accept the Contract for Appropriate Internet Use by Minors.
Adults must maintain a healthy boundary between themselves and the young people they teach or mentor. Young people are not the peers of adults serving in a church or school. Therefore, adults shouldn’t allow minors to become overly friendly or familiar with them. For instance, minors shouldn’t be calling adults by a personal or familiar nickname and adults shouldn’t include them in an adult social circle.
Social networking sites are understandably popular methods of communicating with real and virtual friends. Teachers, catechists, those involved in parish ministry, and other members of school or parish staffs may not engage in private one-to-one interactions on social networks except as specifically detailed in these guidelines.Teachers, catechists, those involved in parish ministry, and other members of school or parish staffs are strongly urged not to disclose personal information online and to be vigilant about what they post. See the Archdiocesan AUP for further direction.Those who serve youth should not be accessible to the young people they serve on a constant on-call basis, except in cases of emergency. Professionals and volunteers in the Church and school should strongly consider not offering or publishing their home or cell phone numbers or home or email addresses, except to other adults. Such disclosures of personal information, while intended to give the sense of pastoral availability, might not be best for maintaining the professional boundaries called for as a teacher or minister.
Free social networking sites allow any member to set up groups for communications, file sharing, and so on. For such a group to work, however, all participants need to be registered on the site, even for an “open” group. It’s possible that some parents/guardians will not give their children permission to register for the site; therefore, Locations may be excluding some children or youth from participating in the group.
Instead of using open, free social network services, explore the possibility of setting up a social networking site that is officially monitored and managed. Private, password-protected social networking systems may provide the communications tools the Location needs. The C3 Resource Specialsts (firstname.lastname@example.org) can assist Locations in selecting appropriate services.
Locations must inform parents/guardians of the Location’s policies on the use of personal devices by students, access to the Internet, and the use of social media sites.
See the Bring Your Own Device Policy Acknowledgement Form and Parental/Guardian's Permission for Access to the Internet.Revised 11-17-2020