Posted by: Joanie Barry
Social media provokes questions that have never been asked before. One of the most commonly asked questions is “How do we protect our children from social media?” Some people believe that the best way to protect our children is to keep them far away from sites like Twitter or Facebook. But is that really the best option? Whether we like it or not, social media is not going to go away. Why hide our students when we can educate them correctly? It is hard to know where to start when trying to teach an innovative concept like social media but here are some general guidelines that may be helpful.
- Teach consequences
Teach kids that everything they do online has a consequence. Students need to know how to critique what they write and create online. Cyber bullying is becoming more and more prevalent in schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics in a 2008-2009 survey “about 1,521,000, or 6.0 percent, reported they were cyber-bullied anywhere (i.e., on or off school property).” Kids become more confident behind a computer screen. There is no immediate emotional reaction to see, which makes it easier to hurt someone’s feelings. Our goal is to teach emotional responsibility and consequences for students.
- Monitor your students
While on the Internet, students can easily forget that what they say online is just as real as what they say in person. If you decide to use Facebook in your classroom make sure you are friends with your students. Many teachers shy away from “friending” the pupils on Facebook because they believe it crosses a line between student-teacher relationships. But remember, your goal is to teach them to learn how to use these new technologies properly. You make them accountable for their actions by reminding them you are paying attention to what they say. However, if you choose “friend” students you need to keep in mind the next rule.
- Lead by example
Set the standards for students. Give students an example of how social media should be used. Students need to know that you are not a hypocrite, which is hard to do if you have pictures of yourself with alcohol on Facebook. If you have these types of things on your Facebook, but you still want to teach with social media, find another social media site to teach with. Better yet, delete your Facebook and start all over. Bear in mind that the lessons you teach to your students apply to you as well. What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet, forever. Be ready to except the consequences when students come across an embarrassing picture of you.
- Be an expert
Tech savvy, behavioral problem students will challenge your knowledge of technology. They want proof that you know your content area. Show them that you know what you are doing by being an expert. Obviously you cannot know everything, but you can try. Part of our job as teachers is to confidently execute our content areas. This is no different from teaching English. Prepare to answer challenging questions and test student’s knowledge of technology.
- Learn from your students
Kids surround themselves every day with this type of technology. They grow up with it. They adapt it for their needs. Do not be surprised if they know more than you. When a students question you in class, do not be defensive learn from them. Technology creates collaboration so why not use it in your classroom.
Every classroom and every student is different. These five ideas are potential foundations for teaching social media. Like in a classroom, these ideas need to grow and change with every student. How can you go a step further? How can you adapt this to every student?