Let me preface this story by saying this: social media is an amazing tool. It can be educational, entertaining and consume most of our lives. It can allow today’s student athletes in a world of “everyone wants to know what I am thinking” to keep in contact with the outside world and impress a bunch of strangers in a way they never could before.

But it can also be a detriment.

As school starts and another interscholastic season gets underway in a couple of weeks, it is important to know that social media self-control is extremely important.

Facebook used to be the thing, now it has become the older generations way on connecting with family and friends. Twitter is still popular in a lot of circles, but it has gone the way of Instagram, Snapchat, and the latest crave Periscope.

All of those platforms can be something that can be very useful for the student athlete, and at the same time, it can cause the downfall of having a chance to play your favorite sport at the next level.

One of the most important things to remember is that nothing you post will ever go away. If you think that it is gone, you had better think again. A simple screen shot by a friend or worse, an opponent, can cause a lot of headaches down the road. Most people don’t understand at the time that what you post now, can and likely will affect the chances of you getting a scholarship to college in the future.

Some choose to keep their accounts on “private”, which may seem innocent enough to keep certain people from looking into your account. But if you think it is really private, you are fooling yourself.

During your recruiting process, it is normal to go visit a college and meet with the coaches. Just know this….they WILL know all about you before you step foot onto their campus whether it is a private account of now. I am not saying that one little bad tweet (depending on what it is) will prevent you from getting a scholarship to college, but it COULD. It only gets worse if they see a pattern of inappropriate content.

I can personally tell you of at least one incident where a coach has been aware of a players social media decisions, and they immediately stopped recruiting that player. And if you don’t think coaches from different schools talk, you are sadly mistaken.

It is OK to post updates from your games, and keep the coaches informed on how you are doing. In fact, if you want to create a second account for coaches and scouts only to post only info about your games, that is fine also. But it doesn’t give you the privilege of abusing your main account because they will know about it.

Do not post immediately after a game. Win or lose (especially lose), it may not turn out well. If you just to your biggest rival in the final seconds of a game, you will be emotional in the locker room after the game. Do not post anything until you are home, it will allow you time to settle down and collect your thoughts. Posting an emotional tweet or snapchat comment right after a game would not be good.

While you want to stay away from posting about going to a party, or bashing an opponent or even a teammate after they cost you a game (which is always a NO-NO), what you want to do is acknowledge family and friends for their support, and say thank you.

In today’s world where they say iPhones can do so much, don’t allow it to cost you your education. Social media can be a lot of fun, if you keep it in context.