Student-Athletes Need Training on Social Media

A combined research effort among prominent U.S. universities has led to the conclusion that student-athletes should receive formal education on using social media.

Investigators recommend placing less reliance on monitoring software and suggest modifying instructional curriculum on media training.

Researchers say training programs that align with student-athletes’ habits and promotes input from the athlete will foster more positive and responsible usage of social networks.

This is the key finding by researchers from Clemson University, Baylor University, and the University of Florida and published in the International Journal of Sport Communication.

In the study, researchers reviewed college athletes’ social media use. Athletes were queried on their experiences with, and attitudes about, a rising trend in college athletics: social media education.

Currently, many athletic departments have turned to outside vendors to provide education on use of social media and for monitoring media outlets.

However, given the media coverage that often accompanies college athletes’ social media content, researchers say that athletic department personnel are grappling with the best method to manage the situation.

“Social media educational sessions are generally mandatory for college athletes, yet little scholarly work to date has investigated how college athletes perceive this training,” said Dr. Jimmy Sanderson, assistant professor in Clemson’s department of communication studies.

Understanding college athletes’ social media use and perceptions about social media training will offer important insights for athletic department personnel, coaches, and social media consultants to ensure that social media education is fully optimized.

“Student-athletes appear to be willing to receive social media education so long as it is tailored to their actual habits and includes their input,” Sanderson said.

“There also appears to be a need for more consistent follow-up and less reliance on monitoring software that may be excessive and overburdensome.”

The researchers note that athletic department administrators, coaches and others tasked with social media education need to listen to the voices of college athletes and integrate their feedback into this process.

“If they do so, college athletes will have a more rewarding and meaningful experience with social media education,” Sanderson said.

Source: Clemson University/EurekAlert!