The topic about whether or not it’s appropriate for a student and a teacher to be friends on Facebook has been in the news a lot lately. As a matter of fact, the state of Missouri recently passed a law that makes it illegal for teachers and students to be connected on any social media site. As a parent, I can certainly understand the concern with that; however, I’d like to talk about a different aspect of students and social media today.
As adults, we all know that social media is already and will continue to become a huge part of our daily lives. Whether it’s used for keeping up with friends, meeting new business associates, networking, or just plain having fun, social media is here to stay. I really don’t think that is debatable anymore, it’s simply a fact. In many classrooms today, social media is downplayed and discouraged. I think it’s human nature to be afraid of something we don’t know very much about. Perhaps some teachers have little experience with social media, and as a result, they are fearful of their students talking about it. I’m not sure, I’m only speculating.
In my opinion, instead of avoiding the topic, teachers might consider allowing the children to talk about it openly. It would be nice if they could talk about the family picture their moms posted on their family Facebook account or the funny tweet they read over the weekend. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if instead of talking about how dangerous social media is, teachers approached it as an open discussion about how to stay safe online? We teach our children how to cross the street safely, how to buckle a seat belt to ride in the car safely, why not how to explore social media safely?
When I was at a function at my own child’s school a few months ago, I was talking one of the teachers about Twitter (since I’m a Twitterholic, it seems all of my conversations somehow work there way around to Twitter). She said to me, “I discourage our students from being on the computer at home and from being involved in any kind of social media. They need to be outside playing sports and getting exercise.” I agree with the sports and exercise part, of course. However, there is balance to everything, and to discourage children from exploring online is, in my opinion, a huge mistake. When she told me that, my jaw dropped. I didn’t even know what to say.
I was excited when I found this infographic by Masters in Education which details how being involved with social media can actually improve a student’s grades. Although there aren’t a whole lot of facts to sink our teeth into with this one, it’s still nice to see something positive about the combination of students and social media for a change. Yay!
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