We’re all afraid of mixing social media with children, but do we have a choice? Going by Facebook’s guidelines that you must be at least 13 years old to have an account, here are the top-5 reasons social media education should begin in middle school (grades 6-8).
1) It’s better to educate now…before it’s too late. In today’s social media and technology crazed world, kids are exposed to a lot of powerful information many adults fail to acknowledge their children can see. Ages 12-15 are very impressionable times in a person’s life, and as we all know, it just takes one mistake online for someone’s life to turn tragic. While parental guidance is certainly a must, why continue to play the waiting game to bring the issue into the classroom? We know social media will be taught in schools eventually, but every year we wait is another year and another class of children we don’t get back.
2) We can no longer play the hope game. There’s no sense in hoping children make the right decisions even though parents try their best to monitor every move. We need designed interactive courses that show students social media best practices without exclusively relying on the instability of parental guidance. Also, many parents don’t understand social media themselves, so in many situations it might be unrealistic to ask them to pass along what they know (or don’t know) to their children.
3) It doesn’t take a ton of time and training. I get it. I have a good amount of friends and families that are teachers, so I know better than most how stretched thin they already are. Many courses are getting cut due to severe budget constraints, leaving not much time for anything not deemed 100% necessary at the moment.
If a school is not in a position to design any courses or lessons, then all I’m saying is do SOMETHING. It can be as simple as a 10 minute discussion or a 20 minute Q+A with the teachers that “get it.” It could be up to each school’s principal/supervisor to determine which teachers are best suited to have the discussion. It could be the history teacher or math teacher…social media is for all!
4) Cyber bullying. Bullying has been around since the beginning of time, but many schools are still sweeping cyber bullying under the rug. If the students are being taught social media best practices, they will gather an understanding that words and communication shared on these sites have as strong, or even stronger impact than taking someone’s lunch money. Still don’t think cyber bullying is a big issue? Then click here.
5) Job and world readiness. Let’s face it, social media is here to stay whether we like it or not. It’s already an invaluable tool for communication and employers are now browsing a potential employee’s accounts to find out more about the person. If we start teaching this stuff to these kids now, they can not only set up their accounts to keep it clean and appropriate, but to make them a more desirable college student and employee.
(image courtesy http://akeynotespeaker.com/)