New Marysville High School Principal Aaron Cook started the first week of school talking with students about their social lives -- more specifically, their social media lives.
"It's a lot like a digital tattoo: It stays with you. It's not going to go away," he said. "It's kind of like water. Water can nourish us, fire can provide heat and warm our homes, but both of those things can destroy."
Cook talked to the freshman class Aug. 20 about a positive digital footprint.
He is well aware of the high percentage of students who have cell phones and who participate in social media. He also recognizes the positive things that can come from technology and social media.
"When you get ready to step forward in a job or a scholarship, you can almost have your own brand of what you're about and who you are, and have a really positive online presence," he said.
He told students they need to think five steps ahead instead of satisfying the instant desire to post something online. He calls it "pause before you post."
The first step in managing the ups and downs of social media among the MHS student population is talking to students. The next step is talking with parents.
Cook said the leadership team and possibly the technology director will have an open session with parents within the next four to six weeks to offer tips and guidance.
"I think a lot of parents have gotten comfortable with Facebook but a lot of kids don't use Facebook any more. They've moved on to other mediums, whether it's Instagram or Snapchat or Twitter," Cook said.
He recommends parents Google their children's name with "and Facebook" to see how easy it is for anybody to find their child online. He advises students to be extremely cautious in every form of media.
"Whatever you post, you should view as a public and not a private conversation, even if it's a direct message," he said, noting that anyone can "screen grab" a conversation and keep it for later posts.
According to the student handbook, Marysville students are prohibited from taking photos and videos of other students and staff members without permission. All students signed a computer network use policy that includes an agreement form that must be signed by both students and parent.
Cook said digital literacy is important but he wants teachers and students to use technology appropriately.
"It is an ongoing conversation and there is not a magic bullet," he said."I do envision us utilizing electronic Internet connectable devices in school. I think it's just like anything before -- you have to have a quality lesson plan designed and developed and good classroom management."
He cited a study done in the Olentangy School District that compared typing speeds among students using laptops, digital tablets and cell phones.
"Kids would type three- to five-page papers more quickly and more accurately on a cell phone," Cook said.
If students step out of bounds in using technology at school, their electronic devices may be confiscated until a parent picks them up and the content may be reviewed as necessary by school staff.
The bottom line, Cook said, is parents need to be involved and they need to have a presence online as well.
"When I was growing up, my parents knew what house I was going to and who I was friends with. Shouldn't you, as a parent, know who your child is friends with locally, in state, or globally?
"I think it's your duty as a parent to know what is on your child's phone."