Communications and social media
The Internet and mobile technologies have changed the way we live and communicate and these methods can be very helpful when communicating with your members families and confirming arrangements about activities or events. As adults in scouting we need to make the best use of these and new technologies, whilst protecting both the young people in our care and ourselves from being placed in a vulnerable position.
Social media and blogging
We understand that it is likely you’ll be keen to use social media to share your experiences, feelings and the fun and adventure you have as a scout. If you have a blog or a profile on a social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google+, Foursquare (or any other social GPS positioning apps) and you have stated that you volunteer for scouting, then any comment or opinion you put forward will become associated with scouting. This includes but is not limited to blog entries, photo and video uploads, status updates, tweets, or check-ins.
Of course, we are happy for you to mention that you are involved in scouting in general terms. This might include comments such as ‘I’m excited about tonight’s troop meeting’, or ‘Had great fun working with the cubs today’. However, we ask that you please avoid mentioning any real specific details of the operations within your group/unit or district and particularly avoid posting negative feelings, comments or points of view on any situation that may occur.
We also recognise that social media can be useful for specific scouting projects. Our advice is that you need to be very conscious of the context in which these sites are used and ensure the public cannot view any personal information of our members.
When posting on social media sites please always remember that you are representing our organisation and we trust you, so act accordingly.
- Be professional; remember that you are an ambassador for scouting
- Be responsible; and honest at all times. When you gain insight; share it with others but only when appropriate
- Be credible; accurate, fair, and thorough and make sure you are doing the right thing
- Be responsive; in a similar way to how you would respond to a letter or email. Visit and check frequently the online spaces and feeds where you/we have a presence or could be mentioned and respond positively and promptly to the comments and conversations.
Always remember that participation online results in your comments being permanently available and open to being republished in other media by other people.
You need to be especially careful about those you accept as ‘friends’ on sites such as ‘Facebook’. These sites are essentially designed for peer-to-peer contact. It is vitally important to ask yourself “Is the content of the messages and photographs available to be viewed on my profile suitable for young people (or their parents) in my section to see?” If the answer is ‘no’, or even a hesitation then do not put it up.
E-mails and text messaging
For beavers and cubs any communications using these channels should always be addressed to the young person’s parent or carer. Information for scouts and explorers may be sent to the young people themselves if necessary, with copies to their parents or carers.
Before using email or text messaging to communicate with young people gain permission from their parents/carers to contact them and ask them what the most appropriate methods of contact for their child is. Remember, that all communication should be in a scouting context and before sending an email or a text, ask yourself “would you be happy to copy in the young person’s parents/carers?” If the answer is ‘no’ then do not send it.
Most young people have a mobile phone and most of them will say they can’t do without it. With mobile phones also come text messages and WhatsApp groups. Leaders of scouts and explorers may well find this the best method of sending out quick notices, like asking members to remember to bring summer camp fees with them or to remind them of the meeting venue and time. If you send a text message or a WhatsApp to any young person, you should once again try to ensure that the content of the message or call could not be misinterpreted and you must always copy in another leader. Never text young people on a one to one basis.
If you receive an email or text message from a young person which causes you concern, refer to our ‘young people first’ code of good practice in the first instance and follow the guidance in it. The code is often referred to as the yellow card,