Internet and Technology Guidelines

Technology has become a prominent part of our everyday lives. Sometimes questions arise as how to responsibly use these technologies in our jobs. The following guidelines are a tool to help guide your usage. Please be sure to check with your supervisor as you have questions that are not answered below.

Facts:

  • Technology is here to stay, continuing to grow and expand.
  • Increasingly, people are using the social network to:
    • Stay in touch with friends and family;
    • Build communities and networks of special interest;
    • Acquire information;
    • Engage diverse conversations and discussions;
    • Share news, notices, events, questions;
    • Organize lives.
  • Technology is an opportunity to reach and help people connect with faith.
  • If we are unfamiliar with technology and how to use it, we may question its safety.
  • Being an adult presence is part of our responsibility, and can serve as a protective filter.

There are numerous technologies being used to communicate. Email, Blogs, Facebook, My Space, Twitter, Instant Messaging, Skype, YouTube, and Hulu are just a few and more are being introduced every day. Most of the time, these technologies are inventive ways to share information and stay in touch with friends and family.

Conference Guidelines

But there are times when these technologies can be used to cause harm. To safeguard against misuse, we suggest these guidelines:

  • Learn how to use technology to be in contact with people, especially in your role as a spiritual leader to youth and young adults.
  • Always remember and remind others that this is a public forum; not a personal journal, therapy or private conversation.
  • Know the people within your network.
  • Use group formats to send messages and notices. Make yourself and your messages transparent.
  • Use caution when establishing hidden groups, and avoid this type of group with youth.
  • Be aware of posting pictures. Permission is needed to post youth pictures. Avoid tagging photos of youth.
  • Model messaging as a responsible adult. Avoid innuendo and off-color humor.
  • Set and maintain security settings. Consider a separate account for networking with youth and young adults.
  • Use your presence to help others filter what they share.
  • Check in with your group often so they know you are part of the conversation.
  • When appropriate, save messages and conversations. They are your backup.
  • If you are the pastor or a staff member of a congregation, you have access to many contacts because of the office or position you hold. When you are no longer in the position, only maintain the contacts that are appropriate in your new position.

If you are part of a network, be sure to check with those responsible for your Information Technology before you add or upgrade any software. Individuals who download software that is not "approved" or officially licensed may put the whole network at greater risk legally, as well as by potentially overloading equipment, inviting viruses, or creating conflict with existing programs on the system.

Common Sense & Patience

For many, this is uncharted territory. It presents both an opportunity and a responsibility, especially with youth and young adults. You may see or hear something that raises questions about someone's behavior or safety. It is your responsibility as a mentor to respond, either directly to them, or to parents and guardians. With common sense and patience, we can use technology to be faithful witnesses for the next generation of God's children.