Social Media and Children: Implementing and Enforcing Unpopular Employment Policies

December 16, 2010 by admin

Four weeks ago I met with a group of YMCA employees to discuss the implementation of a new social media policy. The question on everyone's mind was, should summer camp counselors be permitted to contact minor campers outside of Y programming? I was so enthralled with the discussion that I decided to blog about it that night. You can read more about that discussion at Social Media and the Children: A Fine Line.

After an hour or so, the meeting ended with no clear resolution; at least one more meeting was going to be necessary. So, we met yesterday. This time, we gave ourselves two hours and agreed we needed to stay focused on coming up with some clearly defined social media policies and procedures. I'm happy to announce that we accomplished that goal rather quickly. The new policy will state something to the effect of :

Employees are not permitted to have private communication with program-affiliated minors outside of organizationally-sanctioned events.

There were, and still are, plenty of people at the Y that feel strongly that this policy will diminish the valuable connection counselors work so hard to develop with campers. And I'm not sure many people completely disagree. The fact of the matter is, the potential for inappropriate communication and "over sharing" is far too great, and far too detrimental to the reputation of any child-focused organization.

So we seemingly got the hard question out of the way... now what? The next question was another difficult one.

What are the expectations of supervisors in regards to actively enforcing this new social media policy?

"Am I expected to look at the Facebook walls of every one of my camp counselors?" I responded to this very valid question with an analogy.

What expectations do we have for employees to wear seatbelts when driving company vehicles?

The expectation is that every employee and passenger wear a seatbelt at all times. Do we expect, then, that supervisors actively monitor the seatbelt use of every single employee at all times? No, definitely not.

The general expectation we have for enforcing a social media policy, and most other policies for that matter, is for a supervisor to:

  • Clearly explain to employees what the policy is, and then
  • Take reasonable measures to ensure the policy is being followed

If there is any indication that an employee is not following procedure, a supervisor should:

  • Document the infraction, and
  • Proceed to enforce the proper disciplinary actions.

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