Thursday, February 19, 2015

Students and social media: let's get our heads out of the sand

Yesterday was one of those days as a teacher when I'm reminded that I couldn't care less if my students can rattle off the 8 parts of speech or the 6 traits of writing after they leave my class, but instead have I helped them on their journey through life.

After reading and writing about it on Tuesday, yesterday we actually sat down and discussed our article of the week, which was:
One bad tweet can be costly to a student athlete

From this article, we talked and thought about:
  •  the fairness of judging people based on their social media presence.  
  • whether there are currently posts on their social media accounts right now that could result in a lost opportunity such as college admission, scholarship, or future job.
  • what your social media postings as a whole (rather than just scrutinizing individual posts) say about you as a person -- and not just what you think it says about you as a person, but also what others could perceive about you.
  • how adults admonish every generation in some way. Social media is this generation's way of adults shaking their heads and saying "kids these days." 
  • because social media opens our lives to public scrutiny, unfortunately, mistakes in this day and age can often have bigger consequences
  • how adults should not be forbidding kids from social media activity or ignoring the fact that they're using it (taking the ostrich approach if you will), but rather should be a model of good digital citizenship.
  • how it's not just kids making mistakes on social media.
  • that the adults in the article had some good policies and made some good points, but there are a few places where they are being extremely judgmental, and even crotchety. One of my students even used the phrase "Get off my lawn" in discussion, which I thought was pretty hilarious and rather insightful.
  • whether what you do on social media is "right" or "wrong," as it says in the end of the article, "Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences." 

I'm hoping there will be lots of conversations with friends and dinner table discussions after yesterday's class. I also hope that more teachers will choose to have discussions with their students about these issues rather than just give them lectures and tell them cautionary tales. Let's be proactive rather than reactive. We're all navigating this brave new world together. Let's swim alongside them at a tranquil beach rather than throw them in a roiling, shark-infested ocean to fend for themselves.

Kids are smart. They know what's up. At the same time, they're also impulsive and learning to manage their emotions. We were that way too as adolescents. We just had the benefit of not being that way for all the world to see. Let's give them some compassion and empathy rather than our disapproval and judgy shakes of the head. 

1 comment:

  1. YES! AMEN! I love your students and I am so happy you are having these conversations together at such an insightful age!