Teacher-authors / tech tips for writers

From My Ed Blog–Is it Time for Social Media Awareness Classes?

A lot of teacher-authors read WordDreams. In this monthly column, I share the most popular post from the past month on my teacher education blog, Ask a Tech Teacher. 

In this article, we discuss what is on lots of parents’ minds:

Is it Time for a Social Media Awareness Class?

Over the last decade, there has been pressure in the K-12 learning environment to create classes that address everything from managing your money to various efforts to address cultural inequalities. The problem with including these classes, which all have good intentions, is that there is not enough time to address these subjects without taking away from core subjects. However, with the continued issue of social media’s influence on our teens, I think it is time to address this, especially in light of the recent massacre in Uvalde. The shooter was a user of Yubo and had posted threatening messages on the platform. I am sure that many teachers and parents have never heard of Yubo, which creates a problem in itself. Since the problem is complex, there are no simple solutions, but in light of what we see as educators, it is time to address the problem of social media use by our children in an educational setting.

Teachers understand the influence social media has had on students. In a recent article in the publication EdSurge, teacher Tyler Rablin lamented on losing battle with students’ cellphone use in schools. He conveyed his frustration with having students distracted by social media alerts and viewing videos as he tried to teach. I experienced the same in my years in the classroom. Whether it was text messages or videos, I encountered daily disruptions to my teaching, no matter what measure I took. Rabin’s solution was to ban cell phone usage. I applaud him in this endeavor, but I also think that students must be made formally aware of the influence of social media. 

Parents also want to see changes. In a 2021 study by McAfee, the cyber security software company, over three-quarters of American parents wished schools would do more to educate their children about online safety.  Cyberbullying statistics provided by the government from 2019 indicate that sixteen percent of high school students report being cyberbullied. Having worked at the intermediate school level, I can say incidents of cyberbullying may be parallel. Parents need to be involved in the educational process as well, and some schools are making efforts to provide parent classes on cyberbullying and internet safety.

Despite the best efforts of parents and teachers, our students are falling prey to the addictive nature of social media and phone usage. I think it is time for a class on social media that includes its dangers to be put into the curriculum. However, I want to clarify that I, like many educators, have found creative ways to use social media with my students. I see the need for these continued efforts, but there must be an awareness that goes beyond the cursory warning from parents or even on television. If you grew up in the latter part of the 20th century, you remember the drug and alcohol education classes students took. Although not consistently effective, there was an awareness of the dangers of these substances. Now that our students are fully immersed in social media from a young age but genuinely unaware of its effects.

What might this curriculum look like? Common Sense Media has short lessons that explore topics from cyberbullying to civil discourse. These lessons, which are short in length, can lead to deeper discussions and be done so that students are not shamed about social media use. The lessons address students from 6th grade through 12th grade. Having used the content myself while teaching an elective technology class, I found them effective and eliciting necessary discussions about cyber safety. However, I believe that every student should be exposed to some type of direct instruction on the topic. Moreover, it should begin at the elementary level, as many students 8-12 increasingly use social media sites (Common Sense Census 2021).  Using the many resources that are available for cyber education schools can have an impact on students, which may prevent further tragedies. 

Author’s Bio

Christian Miraglia is a recently retired 36-year educator and now Educational Technology Consultant at t4edtech where he also blogs at Edtech and Things Related. He can be found on Twitter @T4edtech, Linkedin, and on his YouTube Channel Transformative Edtech.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

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71 thoughts on “From My Ed Blog–Is it Time for Social Media Awareness Classes?

  1. Thank you for sharing!!.. because the internet/social media and schooling will more than likely cross paths from time to time, it probably be a good idea to work with the students and staff and share thoughts and ideas (and perhaps individual experiences) about navigating social media and the internet.. and perhaps give the kids access to some knowledgeable individual associated with the school in some manner to help them when needed…. “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” (Kahlil Gibran )… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. HI Jacqui, we are considering changing Michael’s school next year as we feel somewhere smaller and more nurturing will suit his education needs better. We attended an open day for a lovely little school two weeks ago and the principal spoke about the training/teaching that is being given to students about this very topic. I was pleased to see it added as a topic to the life orientation syllabus. This is just as necessary for youngsters as sex education.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love hearing that, Robbie. It sounds like you picked a great school. If it interests you, once you get settled, I’d love a guest article about that on my teaching blog and/or my writing blog, whichever you prefer. No pressure, though. You are awfully busy!

      Like

  3. As a social studies educator, this is something we discussed at the national level over ten years ago. I applaud your efforts and expertise in getting this kind of curriculum into the hands of students and teachers. It is an uphill battle with the many mandates that schools have on their curriculum in the minutes they have to teach.

    Some kids are aware when negative and harmful posts come out. Only a few know what to do with that information and are taken seriously. A few years ago a student several towns over from ours became aware of a social media threat to another student. He alerted his father, who was in law enforcement. The police in turn took the threat seriously, and alerted local police and school officials. Throughout the night, they all worked as a team and prevented a tragic shooting in our town.

    The problem is that most students don’t know where to go with what they know and hear, and adults don’t necessarily listen and take their information seriously. I think adults – teachers, administrators and students need to look at themselves as a team to protect their communities. Together they need to come up with a communication protocol when cyber bullying takes place, or threats are made against individuals and the school. Teaching is no longer a one-way street. Both students and the adults that love them have things they can teach each other if the trust is built up between them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad your story has a happy ending. Part of my teaching includes reminding students they can do something–they aren’t powerless. Maybe it’s speaking up, leaving, or telling someone, whatever is in their comfort zone. I love that your example, the child told a trusted adult who moved forward.

      And I agree about teaching being a team sport these days. That shared thirst for knowledge is powerful.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I would agree that we need to do a better job of educating students, teachers, and parents. It would be good for Continuing Education classes to be available for both teachers and parents as the social media landscape is so rapidly changing that what we learn this year will be obsolete a few years later. Civility is another virtue that needs to be taught!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a wonderful idea, Jacqui – it does my head in to think of the enormity and complexity of this problem. I also think phones should be turned off or even removed during class time. I heard of one elite school that was returning to handwritten notebooks instead of devices. Toni x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I applaud you for bringing this serious issue to light, Jacqui. The fact that this is your area of expertise carries much more weight than the average person.

    Liked by 1 person

      • This is one problem I didn’t have to deal with. When I taught upper grades, kids were just starting to get phones. Very few had them yet. If I remember correctly, the school made a rule at the time (I don’t know if it still applies) that kids had to turn their phones into the office while they were at school. The practicality of that happening now would be hard. Then, my school went from K-6 to K-3, and very few of my students had phones.

        I imagine it would be a much more significant problem in middle and high school, where every kid has a phone. Perhaps I’m naive, but is it too much to expect kids to turn their phones off in class?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I so enjoyed this piece on the importance of being educated and informed about cybersecurity and how we can use social media responsibly. These types of discussions, when initiated young, stick with us forever. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is definitely a huge problem, and not one that is going away anytime soon. I’ve never heard of Yubo and have no intention of exploring it. With so many different social media platforms, there is no way to monitor them all. Thank you for sharing this, Jacqui. I think it is a topic we will see more of over the next few years and hopefully it will be included in the education curriculum.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m onboard with this. Between parents and educators, a lot could be accomplished. I’m sure the problem for parents is that many are unaware of the social media platforms their children frequent. It’s almost like the adults need an education too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When my kids were in HS, I installed a snoop device on their computers, but I told them about it, showed them what I could see. All it did was keep them coloring between the lines. I’m not sure I could outsmart them anymore!

      Like

  10. I never heard of Yubo before this post, Jacqui.
    I think you point out here great ideas for social media awareness, but I’m with the teacher who banned cellphones. We do this here in schools. No cellphones are allowed inside a classroom. If a kid takes his/her phone to school, it’s his responsibility. Schools are not responsible for damage, losses, or stolen cellphones. This makes students more wary about taking their phone to school, and if they do, they make sure it’s off during classes so the teacher doesn’t confiscate it. Yet, not all schools/classes are 100% successful in preventing cellphone usage during classes.
    Thanks for sharing this, Jacqui.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pingback: From My Ed Blog–Is it Time for Social Media Awareness Classes? — – uwerolandgross

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