What does accessing social media in school teach you?
Guest Post by Nellie Stagg
Staples High School (Westport, CT) Class of 2009
University of Connecticut (UCONN) Class of 2013
Last week, I posed a question for students as a Facebook status, "OK! This is for students! I am collecting the top ten reasons you NEED access to social media in schools - what does it TEACH you?" I wrote about their responses in Y U Need to "Friend" ur Students.
A few days ago, I receive a very thoughtful response from one of my daughter's friends, Nellie, who is now a college sophomore. I had to share:
"Halloo!! I thought a lot about your question and discussed it with a few friends and here's my response:
The protests in the middle east are a prime example of how our generation is using social media to make history. I read a quote from one young organizer in Egypt that said, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.” With social media sites I am able to know what is happening around the world right NOW, for example I know about Earthquakes in California before CNN does through facebook. I had a friend who was raving about a 4 hour chat she had through one of those randomized chatting sites (like omegle and chat roulette) with a soldier in Israel who was giving her amazing insight into that conflict from a soldier's perspective. She couldn’t have learned stuff like that from a textbook— that stuff wouldn’t even be in a textbook for years, it’s happening now, and we should be learning about it now. These sites are the primary documents of our time.
Social media has taught me the permanence of the typed word. I have seen countless examples of someone’s quote being bought back to bite them or a posted photo used against them. We are leaving paper trails of our most intimate thoughts and experiences. This technology (and privacy policies) are all evolving so rapidly schools MUST not only allow access to such sites but TEACH students about responsible usage of this media. There are consequences to hitting the enter key and I think it’s crucial that schools discuss it. Also Cyber-bullying is real and is having horrific consequences and it’s negligent of schools to take an ‘abstinence only’ education policy regarding social media. When schools censor these websites they send the wrong message, that social media is bad and should be avoided altogether. As with everything, it should be used in moderation, but banning it from school just makes me spend a longer time at home checking the site, where I could have spent a few minutes in a free period checking my facebook I’ll just wait until I get home and then spend much more time on it. If that's their beef, then schools should teach responsible time management and have dialogs with their students about how they use these sites.
Social media has a huge presence in our daily lives, we are receiving massive amounts of information daily and it’s important we learn how to filter this information. We have to learn to critically think about the information we’re receiving. I think there should be classes (at the very least seminars) in schools discussing seeking out the validity of information provided to you and thinking about the motive/intent of the creator. Additionally students need to learn about online etiquette. In our day and age it’s equally important to learn how to format a 5 paragraph essay as it is a facebook message.
Facebook groups have been instrumental to the group projects I have worked on in college. It’s our main hub to communicate about dividing tasks. The page lets us ask and answer questions that everyone can access and is WAY more convenient than sorting through email threads. People check their facebook more than their school email so it also makes the response rate much quicker. The projects I have done that used facebook groups to organize have been much less stressful and have turned out more cohesively.
Facebook is an amazing resource for publicizing events such as speakers or club meetings and it’s foolish of schools not to utilize it as a resource."