According to a recent Pew Research Center study, nearly half of American adults now use social media, double the number revealed in a similar study in 2008. What that means for you is that there's a good chance your friends aren't the only ones checking out your Facebook profile.
Today, recruiters, coaches and athletic officials routinely look at high school athletes' social media profiles before offering scholarships. That's why it's more important than ever to play by the rules when you're updating Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Be sure to avoid these four social media mistakes. Any one of them can spell disaster for your scholarship chances.
Mistake #1: Inappropriate Photos
Once upon a time, Facebook was only used by college students. In 2011, that fairy tale is over. Because everyone from grandparents to university officials now uses Facebook to browse through photos, it's important to develop a discerning eye before hitting "post." The University of Kentucky uses its website to warn student-athletes that they can lose their scholarships and be kicked off the team as a direct result of having inappropriate pictures posted to Facebook. Make sure photos on all of your accounts are grandma-approved—no nudity, alcohol or drugs. If you've posted those images to your account, or if one of your friends has tagged you in risqué photos, remove them immediately.
Mistake #2: Profanity
It's late and you're upset about the night's loss, so you write a quick tweet about the quarterback that includes an F-bomb. No big deal, right? Wrong. That one lapse can cause a school to rethink its scholarship offer. Other obscene language can be just as damaging. According to the Huffington Post, Caitlin Ortiz, a Molloy College softball player, lost her scholarship due to lyrics from a Chris Brown song she posted on Facebook. Always think twice about every status update, making sure both the language and message are G-rated.
Mistake #3: Violating NCAA Regulations
According to an article in the New York Times, certain social media communications can be considered violations of NCAA regulations. The article explains that Facebook friend requests to recruits from a college's fans, boosters or alums may be prohibited by the NCAA. No penalties have yet been assessed for these kinds of communications, but some recruits have been the targets of hostile tweets, posts and comments. Avoid the negativity, and any possible violation, by keeping such "friends" out of your accounts altogether.
Mistake #4: Not Updating Your Privacy Settings
Facebook is constantly updating its privacy settings. Stay up-to-date on all changes to maintain your circle of friends, and monitor content other people post about you. Even if you censor your own posts and photos, one raunchy comment or snapshot posted by a friend can do serious damage to your reputation and scholarship chances.
Censoring your social media might seem like a quick way to take the fun out of Facebook, but it has become essential for any high school athlete. Give yourself a better chance by reviewing your social media accounts today.