Should Social Media Be a Course in Schools?

Social Media has so many possibilities for educators and students alike on both a professional and personal level.  But with these opportunities comes responsibility.  Today, Ken Meyers brings this guest post that highlights some things to consider as we acknowledge and encourage the use of social media in our classrooms and beyond.  ~EMP

As social interaction on the Internet has gained so much popularity, now may be the time to start teaching children how these websites can be helpful and harmful. Too many children are falling victim to various aspects ranging from peer interaction to being arrested for comments that are deemed to be “terrorist” in nature. By informing children of how these social sites work and the repercussions of their actions, we could help them prepare for various situations. What are some ways that a social media class can help students?
1. Comments - Currently, we live in a world where freedom of speech can only go so far. If your comment on any specific website is terrorist minded, you could be facing jail time. Even if the case cannot be proven that you have criminal intent, you can be locked up in jail for a poorly executed joke. Teens such as Justin Carter could have their entire lives stripped away because of a heated discussion from a video game. Children need to know that the comments posted on these sites can be seen by anyone and could be in existence forever. As silly as it sounds, you could very well be labeled as a terrorist for the rest of your life as it could remain on your regard indefinitely.

2. Cyber-bullying Defense - One of the reasons why bullying through the Internet is so popular is from the fact that there is no personal interaction removing the human element from statements one can make. Without that interaction, virtually anything can be said without immediate repercussions. Children could benefit from knowledge on how to deal with cyber-bullying. In fact, we could see a decrease in this behavior by teaching children how improper cyber-bullying can be. Adults and teachers need to take a more active role in order to prevent another situation such as that of Amanda Todd from Canada. Just because you don’t think the situation is that dire, doesn’t mean a teenager is being overly-dramatic. You have the benefits of experience from age, a 15 year old doesn’t.

3. Images - When you take a picture of something, it can easily be shared with the wrong people. Too many teens also use social media to boast about criminal activities by posting images in order to gain “approval” from others. Children need to realize that once a picture is posted on the Internet, it will remain on the Internet forever. Later in life when employers start examining Facebook profiles and other social media sites in order to help them gauge whether or not a person is worth hiring, that image could be detrimental to his or her decision.

4. Tweets and Messages - Sending a quick message to your friends isn’t harmful unless you are doing an activity that requires your attention. There is a reason why many areas make it illegal to operate a cell phone while driving. Texting and sending “tweets” has a time and place and classrooms or behind the wheel of a car isn’t either of them. As 18-year old Cody Hall faces charges of murder after killing a bicyclist while speeding down a road, his tweets will be used against him. Children need to understand that messages can have severe repercussions even if it wasn’t their intent to cause a specific situation.

When it comes to a child’s safety on the Internet, a parent should be the first person to step in and help the child. However, work schedules and other circumstances could prevent the parent from helping the child understand how this wondrous technology of information can be abused. Setting rules to prevent a specific action doesn’t always work, but giving the child knowledge as to why it’s inappropriate could be more successful than what many realize.

Author Bio:

Ken Myers holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of  morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    I think that’s a very brief and vague post on the topic of teaching social media at schools. Surely there are dangers but its more important to teach the power and benefits AND how to use them to succeed in life.

    All technology is dangerous in the wrong hands, but doesn’t make it dangerous all together.

  2. Mr. Metzner says:

    We teachers are educators and mentors for our students. Every student can learn in their own unique and independent way. As educators, we must strive to promote that learning when and while students are using social media and all of the platforms available to them. If teachers simply stick to the “put it away” statement when students enter their rooms, then those teachers are missing those teachable times; the ones for which we educators strive.

    Actually, social media (Web 2.0 tools) lends opportunities for higher levels of productivity and interactions from school to home; and back to school. Instead of avoiding the initial perception of lost academic time, modify social media to propel your academic agenda forward — into the students’ interests and lifestyles. It is all about connections and communication of similar foci to where we should all direct our eyes (teachers and students working together).

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