Internet Safety Guidelines for Dancers, Parents, and Dance Teachers
We compiled these guidelines for Internet safety for dancers, parents, and dance professionals after multiple reports of dance students in potentially dangerous situations after meeting someone online, sharing personal information through various social media platforms or being targeted by cyber predators. Children in dance spend a tremendous amount of time consuming the posts and pictures of choreographers, dance celebrities, dance shows, musical artists, music videos, competitions, conventions, dancewear lines, teachers and other dancers they may be following on multiple social media accounts. With the creation of Finsta accounts and potentially dangerous apps such as Musical.ly and Kik Messenger, it’s crucial we stay up to date on the latest “hot” trends for cyber communication in order to know the risks and properly guide the youth in our circle of influence.
We have also had several reports of dancers being exposed to mature content such as pornography and violence or suffering from anxiety, depression, cutting, and suicidal ideation exacerbated by online bullying. We believe many of these issues are preventable through education and awareness that leads to action steps to teach our children and teens how to advocate and protect their self-esteem, emotional health and physical safety while online.
Research proves an unguided child or teen given a smart phone and access social media accounts can cause equal damage as a child whose been given a car to drive absent of training on the signs, expectations, rules and safety protocols required to keep themselves and others they come in contact with safe. Just like a driver who has been inadequately trained may cause harm to themselves or others so can a youth on social media who has not been given clear directions and supervision required for cyber safety.
At YPAD we have seen the most success when all three roles; the dancer, dance parent and studio owners/dance professionals work together to prevent the potential harms social media and the world wide web can cause. We believe in healthy social media management and leading through example. Just like many academic institutions have created anti-bullying campaigns, we believe youth in today’s culture deserve adequate training in social media management and safety. We have several internet safety resources you can access at www.ypad4change.org/resources and you can also organize a YPAD Three Day Mindful Social Media Fast with your dancers, dance parents and colleagues.
This document is truly just the tip of the iceburg on safe cyber usage. We invite you to visit www.commonsensemedia.com and the FBI Kids Safety Page at https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/fun-games/kids/kids-safety.
Together we can make a difference!
▪ 88% of teens have seen someone be mean or cruel to another person on a social networking site.
▪ The number of sexual assault cases related to social media sites has increased by 300%.
▪ 15% of teens say they were a target of online cruelty.
▪ 29% of Internet sex crime relationships were initiated on a social network.
▪ In 26% of online sex crimes against minors, offenders disseminated information and/or pictures of the victim through the victim’s personal social networks.
▪ 67% of teenagers say they know how to hide what they do online from their parents.
▪ 43% of teens say they would change their online behavior if they knew that their parents were watching them.
▪ 55% of teens have given out personal information to someone they don‘t know, including photos and physical descriptions.
Tips for Dancers
- NEVER give out personal information (full name, address, school, phone number) to anyone you don’t know.
- DO NOT agree to meet a person you’ve met online in person – they may not be who they say they are.
- REMEMBER – everything you share online can be found – by parents, teachers, future employers – even if it seems private.
- FOLLOW the “grandma rule” – share anything that you’d be OK with your grandma seeing and asking you about.
- THINK about the selfies and dance videos you post – what message do they send to people who view them?
- NEVER engage in private messaging with someone you don’t know – even if it is a female. Many predators online use false profiles, false stories, and compliments to pull young people into a trusting dialogue.
- HEADS UP IF a teacher or master class guest you met at your studio, workshop, competition or convention private messages or asks for your phone number. Even if these messages seem harmless and even may contain compliments they and progress to inappropriate messages after they gained your trust. Adult teachers should always include a trusted adult in your life and ask permission to communicate with you. Tell an adult if this happens. There may not be ill intent but it is practicing safe boundaries.
- REACH OUT to an adult immediately if something in an online conversation or website seems off or makes you feel weird. If you did give out personal information and then something alarming happens – It’s critical to get an adult involved. Don’t judge yourself for past mistakes, everyone makes some and the adults in your life want to keep you safe more than anything else. Talk to your parents if you can, or your dance teacher for another opinion and for help deciding what to do next.
Tips for Parents
- MONITOR your child’s social media networks – be friends with them, check the apps installed on their phone, etc.
- TALK about internet safety and social media with your child – create an open dialogue so that you know who your child is following and talking to online.
- STAY UPDATED on new apps and social networking sites – commonsensemedia.org has great information on new apps and social networking platforms that become popular
Tips for Dance Teachers
- KNOW your audience – are you friends/followed by your students? If you are – everything you post should be OK for them to see, and know that everything you repost or “like” shows your (and your studio’s) approval.
- USE your social media influence to inspire, encourage, and uplift – you are a role model and extension of the parental village for your students. They will emulate what they see from you – and may spend as much time with your social media as they do with you in person!
- KEEP your students safe by not oversharing their personal information when sharing about your dancers/classes/studio. Share first name last initial instead of full name, etc.
- COMMUNICATE EXPECTATIONS with visiting instructors to your studio and let your students know if guest instructors at your studio or they met at a convention or competition contacts them it is important you know about it. You do not need to alarm them in any way. Stay stead and share it is safe boundaries that adults do not privately communicate with them. It is not that you do not trust them but you want to practice open communication.
Together, we can use the power of the internet and social media to uplift, encourage, inspire, and connect people within the dance world to create positive communities. Keeping a mindful eye on what our dance students and children are doing online coupled with teaching them cyber safety and modeling our own healthy social media use can help keep them healthy and happy dancers and people!
If you have any questions about internet safety or guidelines for best practices, feel free to contact us any time: