In the state of Alabama, the Archdiocese of Mobile has instituted a social networking policy that restricts social networking with minors to “providing information related to a ministry or event and not for socialization or other personal interaction.”
The electronics communication policy is now in effect and is called The Policy for Communication with Minors Via Social Media and Other Electronic Communication. The policy not only affects faculty and staff at Catholic schools but adults who work with minors and teens through the Office of Youth Ministry, Office of Religious Education and Catholic Youth Organization. The policy has been a work in progress for a year.
The Archdiocese’s new policy follows on the heels of Mobile board of education social networking policy approved by the Mobile County school board.
According to Mobile Press-Register, the public school system’s policy limits communication with students “outside of system-owned means and resources” and “prefers that its employees utilize only school-owned resources to communicate and interact with students.”
The Archdiocese goes on to define social media as venues such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube. Electronic communication refers to cell phones, texting, e-mail and land-line telephones.
The guidelines clearly state that “social media may not be used to communicate with minors who have not reached the ninth grade.”
Other rules include online chatting with minors is prohibited and parents must be notified of the “methods of communication” used and must have access to “participate in such communications.”
The Archdiocese notes the importance of making “changes as technology changes” and the new guidelines well serve them well.