A teenager or any young person using social networking is nothing unusual in modern society, and in fact if they are not connected in through one or more of these networks they are disconnected and have trouble keeping up with conversation. Other’s think they are different and continuing the conversation outside of school is something we as teachers we want to encourage and embrace. When teens use the medium as a tool to funnel bullying or undesirable behaviour it becomes an issue for both school and community.
After just reading a comment on Facebook posted by an old school friend in her frustration of her son’s experiences, I truly believe teens with Facebook and social networks are the “have’s” and those who don’t are “have-not’s”
“if your not on FB your not even worth talking to”.
To develop the education of young people and the appropriate behaviours online we MUST begin the education well before they are legally allowed to participate in such media. Just as we don’t give the keys to a car upon the teen’s 16th birthday and send them off on the roads alone with no guidance or supervision, – we instead sit beside them and guide them through the situations as they arise.
Alex Summers posted on the 17th November 2012: 6 Things to Teach Students about Social Media. In this post he says
There are several things that teachers can begin teaching students early on about social media that can help them as they enter college and the job force.
- Online Reputation
- Keeping Connections
- Establish Your Expertise
- Use it to Your Advantage
- Stay Tuned
I believe although as teachers we do have the resources to share proper use of social and opportunities to demonstrate this use in and educational environment, Parents must also play a significant part in this education. The need to be involved and discuss and share these online tools with their children from and age of about 7 right through to the mid to late teens and beyond. This will give all students the chance to become educated before participating and remain guided and supported throughout their developing maturity.
Parent’s, teachers and all adults must be supporting guides for the teens who are ‘coming of age’ in the social networking sense. We must teach what we can before they get the keys and once they have demonstrated they know the appropriate way to conduct themselves and drive themselves along the right road we can then begin to give them probationary licence to participate with some restrictions. After a period of time they can then gain full control of their account and network. But, again like driving there is allowance for social jurisdiction and loss of permit for misbehaviour and breaking the rules.
This structure has been very successful for many years for driving a motor vehicle so why not apply this to the internet superhighway? When cars began their evolution we only had bumpy unsealed roads and no speed limits. As we begin the evolvement of the internet and social media we must also reduce the speed limits and monitor more closely the ‘friends’ our young people connect with and how they communicate. We must monitor the traffic on the internet superhighway and ensure that networking can be utilised and applied at appropriate times whilst controlling the distraction of unproductive interruptions.
I know and understand the importance of using social networking with teenagers and young people. But when it is impacting upon them and their study it becomes another distraction rather than enhancing their collaborative working. I have previously suggested that changing the common title of networking from “social” to “collaborative”. My reasoning behind this is that the perception that social is unproductive and you can’t learn from social but collaborative has much more of a productive connotation where working together to achieve a common goal is more desirable.
As parents and teachers we are torn between the knowledge that participation is better that isolation, but when the impact is unproductive we know there must be some restriction.
But, how much restriction should we apply?
And, how can we truly determine what impact this restriction will have both academically and socially?