Peter Coe, Lecturer in Law at Aston University and a practising barrister, created what he calls the ‘green cross code’ for social media use. He advocates its use by all young people as a good place to start when using online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
The code is:
· (P) Remember that everything you put online has the potential to be seen by anybody and everybody, and that it can be PERMANENT.
· (A) Before posting, tweeting, sharing, texting or uploading think about your AUDIENCE and how it could affect them and/or their opinion of you and others, now and later on.
· (U) If you are still UNSURE ask for a second opinion from somebody you trust. Equally, if you receive a text, tweet, message or picture that you are UNSURE about tell somebody you trust.
· (S) STOP AND THINK what impact your online activity may have on your privacy or reputation, or the privacy or reputation of others. Remember (P).
· (E) If you are uncomfortable with anything that’s been tweeted, posted, shared or uploaded END your involvement immediately and tell somebody you trust.
Commenting on the code, Peter said: “The acronym, PAUSE, is in itself good advice, encouraging young people to detach from the immediacy of social media and avoid the potential pitfalls of a fleeting or emotional response. An awareness of the permanence of posts is vital, so that the seemingly acceptable or inconsequential doesn’t undermine your reputation down the road. As we teach young people the birds and the bees of social media, encouraging them to keep one eye on the future should be a big part of it.”
The publication of Peter’s advice coincides with Safer Internet Day (9 February), a public awareness campaign run by UK Safer Internet Centre, to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology by children and young people.
More than a thousand organisations across the country are involved in the event, including hundreds of schools who will use the occasion to help educate pupils about potential hazards they could face online.
Peter said: “As parents and teachers, we rightly place significant emphasis on skills to help prepare young people for the workplace which, along with the traditional educational pillars like literacy and numeracy, help them live healthy and successful lives.
“One area where there is still room for improvement is ‘online health’. While the basics of safety online – don’t give out personal information, for instance – are well known, and closely match the ‘stranger danger’ advice of years gone by, there is little by way of advice to help develop a positive online presence.”