This week I talk about the rise in usage of social media and the potential hazards for high school student-athletes.

The transcendent rise in the use of social media has affected all of us in many aspects. Whether it be life or business, the largest impact has certainly been seen in sports.

Everybody is connected through the internet. A simple connection can get you to converse with people from all over the world. Australia, Africa, name a country. Social media has brought many connections between our families, friends, and in sports fans and athletes. The use of social media is booming. Users are at an all-time high. I do not see the trend slowing down anytime soon. We use social media for nearly everything.

Talk to any high schooler and you will likely have them admit to having a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat account. A full social media plate. These apps are free, easy to use, and a simple way to get yourself out there to get noticed. With the use of these apps growing, local and state officials have adopted new guidelines and policies. Some policies can be flawed in a way because the use of an app can be difficult to track. I think this is important for schools and sports officials to be proactive rather than reactive. While we use it to our advantage, we do not want to abuse the usage either.

Because of this rise in usage of social media, colleges have taken notice. I know for a fact that while a college coach is scouting a kid and they like what they see, they will absolutely dive into your social media accounts. Many of these coaches assume that your behavior on social media and the way you handle yourself tells them a lot about you as a recruit. A negative reflection of your social media accounts may very well be a coaches’ first impression of you. Quite honestly, before they come to any of your games, they probably already have done their homework. After speaking with a local college basketball coach, he admitted that each month he crosses off about four to five recruits just based off of the way they represent themselves on social media. Colleges have hired staff members strictly for watching social media accounts of each and every one of their recruits. These staff members are hoping not to find any racist, sexist, or vulgarity in language in your posts. They aren’t just looking for inappropriateness, but also your behavior online. How often are you on these apps? 24/7? Do you not have time to work out and hone your craft? Coaches look at this stuff. Don’t give coaches an opportunity to see any red flags.

You probably have all heard the quote, “You have two ears and one mouth so that you can listen twice as much as we speak.” Or maybe that was just my former teachers when I was always lipping back in class. Anyways, the term student-athletes should use is “think twice, post once.” With cell phones, everything is one-touch. You can type out your tweet or random posts and hit “send” and just like that, it is all over for the world to see. Anybody can screenshot it and get it around. Even if they are old tweets from so long ago, these tweets are found and you must be wise with what you post. Prime example here. MLB players Trea Turner, Sean Newcomb, and Josh Hader were engaged in some heat this summer for homophobic and racist tweets they posted as teenagers. Even years later, people will dig on the internet to find some dirt on you.

So, with that said, I would like to propose to all high school student-athletes that you are careful and acknowledgeable with what you post online. Use social media as a positive platform. If you’re upset after a game, stay off of Twitter. Give yourself time to absorb the emotions from the game so that you do not regret anything you may say. All it takes is for one bad tweet to surface and take off for people to get their first impression of you. Be wise with what you post. You don’t want to be the guy that was cut-off when being considered for a roster spot when you carried just as many abilities as the next guy, but you were too stubborn to use sound judgment.