There are many different opinions out there about what schools’ responsibilities are in educating students about topics related to social media and online citizenship. There has been criticism that schools don’t adequately prepare kids for the ever-growing and evolving digital world, as well as stories about teachers themselves displaying inappropriate online behaviors in cases of oversharing or initiating inappropriate relationships with students online.
No matter what one’s viewpoint may be about how schools should address social media, social networking is here to stay and there are many benefits to helping kids learn more about online citizenship and how to responsibly and effectively use the social web. Schools don’t necessarily need to teach kids how to tweet, upload photos to Facebook or expand their number of online friends and followers. But by focusing on how to effectively engage kids online and teach them responsible behaviors, students can learn now and prepare for their futures later.
In addition to learning about appropriate use of social media, different sites and networks can also provide rich and effective learning tools. These include the use of forums for help with assignments, or online “office hours” led by teachers using chat and messaging features. Shyer students can have more of an opportunity to be “heard” online, and students can learn how to act more appropriately when interacting with trusted adults online, rather than their peers only.
The use of various forms of social media in education can further teach kids about the importance of online reputation, as maintaining a positive and respectable online presence is now crucial to college admissions and job applications. Finally, practicing smart and safe online behaviors in school can also help prevent cyberbullying, as kids are more monitored online and more focused on the educational benefits that can be gained from using – and learning about – social media in the classroom.
Do your kids’ schools do anything to address social media and social networking? Do you think schools have a responsibility to teach students about digital literacy and responsible online citizenship?