Session 358: Teaching students about Social Media

Thursday 15th June 2017

social

The growth and popularity of Social Media platforms over the last decade has exploded to unprecedented levels across many societies, aligned with the ease of accessing these online networks enhanced by improvements in mobile technologies and devices.

For the uninitiated, understanding social networks can seem like a minefield demanding time, patience and absorption. Needless to say, students have embraced the social aspects of these platforms, and can provide fantastic opportunities to build close friendships and networks. Yet, the dangers of interacting on social networks can also be devastating to individuals and their families.

Schools and teachers are perfectly placed to teach and support students in using social media platforms responsibly, so this #UKEdChat session explored strategies and resources that can help the teaching of social media platforms to our students, highlighting the positive and negative implications.

The questions posed were:

  1. How can schools & teachers teach pupils about the perceived dangers of using social media?
  2. How can schools & teachers warn students about the possible long-term implications of posting on social media?
  3. How can schools support students if things go wrong for them on social media?
  4. Is it possible to teach about social media from behind a school firewall, or if mobiles are banned?
  5. For students, what do you think are the most positive reasons for engaging with others on social media?
  6. How can social media bridge the gap between home and school?
  7. What good practice of students using social media have you seen in schools?
  8. What can Social networks do to improve the user experience for young users?

The summary:

With social media permeating across modern societies, educators need to be well informed in the technologies that students are absorbed in. It can be difficult, with generational differences, along with being open and honest about a subject which many are still getting to terms with. With this in mind, how can schools & teachers teach pupils about the perceived dangers of using social media?

By understanding the dangers and benefits themselves! Using it in responsibly in the classroom and demonstrating good practice. A way of teaching could be helping our students set up accounts and teaching them about functions as well as privacy settings. Nothing can leave more of a lasting impression than real examples of implications – shock tactics work wonders.

IDEA: Rhetorical, but ask the class who would be happy for their social media profiles viewed on the whiteboard in front of the class.

Furthermore, students need to be taught about complacency about social media networks. For example, Are we really sure that Snapchat images disappear once viewed by an audience? What if, one day, a great hack revealed millions of pictures people thought were temporary and deleted.

Encouraging an open dialogue is key. So much of what happens on social media stays behind screens, it can be hard to monitor.

IDEA: Schools could have a Social Media Lead Teacher who can support staff and students in all platforms, trends and guidance.

In general, it needs to be remembered that social media worlds can be positive and beneficial to students, and can have a MASSIVE impact on student wellbeing; ensuring it can be taught needs to be a priority in schools as soon as possible. Every teacher has something to offer. History teachers are experts in assessing sources (fake news) for example.  For students/teens, the social aspect of life is v. important. Connecting with idols, friends etc. gives a sense of belonging, but also popularity rates…likes, followers etc gives intrinsic motivation to see how popular they are. The speed of responses too is vital in the social media world. Beyond this, social media networks now are  a great way to keep up to date with current events & news. It helps engage students more in what they wouldn’t usually look at. Also, there are fantastic opportunities to show students how much they can learn from and with others in a pedagogical sense.

As students are nearing the end of their formal education, and embarking on the next stage of their lives, consideration is needed in being aware that lots of employers look at social media accounts to make assessments on applicants…so students need to know and be self-aware! Building professional profiles is critical, or checking and improving the security settings on what is shared publicly.

Schools offer a perfect setting to support pupils engaging with social media platforms, yet staff/teachers need to be on top of the SM environment to advise sensibly, not falling for hyperbole. We need to be aware of social/online networks that don’t necessarily fit to how we define. For example, we need to remember that online games are also social networks, and bullying etc can take place -playing online games (such as GTA or FIFA etc) have talk rooms etc built within. These environments are also social networks.

As teachers, it is important to remember that social media networks are not all evil. They offer our students fantastic opportunities to connect with friends, share interests, or seek support. What teachers need to do is realise these positives, but support students by warning of the potential dangers and preparing them for futures which will further involve social media networks which are not yet created.


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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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