A study about undergraduate social media users and university social media policies by Kimberly O’Connor, assistant professor of organizational leadership and supervision; Gordon Schmidt, assistant professor of organizational leadership and supervision; and Michelle Drouin; professor of psychology, was recently published in Computers in Human Behavior.
The article, titled “Suspended because of social media? Students’ knowledge and opinions of university social media policies and practices,” examined how well students understood university policies, free speech, and privacy issues.
From the abstract:
In this exploratory study, we examined undergraduates’ (N = 298) knowledge of their university’s social media policies, understanding of free speech and privacy protections, opinions about university monitoring and discipline for personal social media posts, and perceptions of fairness regarding recent cases of student discipline for personal social media use.
The results of our study indicate that most undergraduates are highly underinformed as to whether or not their university has a social media policy, particularly if the students are early in their academic careers and do not engage in many online privacy protection behaviors. Most participants were also misinformed as to whether free speech and/or privacy protections will shield them from university discipline. In addition, most participants (78%) were opposed to the idea of universities monitoring students’ personal social media accounts, though significantly fewer (68%) were opposed to monitoring student athletes’ social media.
Finally, when asked about several recent cases involving student discipline, most participants were generally opposed to a variety of university disciplinary actions regarding students’ social media posts. We discuss these findings as they relate to the need for better social media policy training for students, as well as the potential impact on students’ academic and future careers.