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Monday, August 12, 2013

Do you know what social media sites your students are using? a.k.a- Hatin on Facebook

I am not normal. There, I said it...I am sure you have been suspecting it for months but I thought we should just talk about the elephant in the room and get it out there. Now, shall we talk specifically about what "not normal" thing about me I am willing to discuss with you this evening...

Even though I am 44 years old, I have been on Facebook since 2005...back when the only people on Facebook were college students. For me, I was working on my masters in Instructional Technology so I did not exactly fit the "mold" of Facebook users, but I was onboard. I was mainly on board because I was an Instructional Technology person wondering what all the hub-bub was about. So I will have to admit, as Facebook opened the door for any Tom, Dick, or Harry to join, I did NOT like it (that was what MySpace was for!). I enjoyed the exclusivity of Facebook. I enjoyed the simpleness of it. I enjoyed having a place to vent that my momma would not see and call me to ask "What is wrong? What is going on?" So it does not surprise me to to read this article where a  13 year old explains why teens don't like Facebook. I get it...I get that it seems like Facebook tried to hard and I get that teens do not like it when they sense someone tries to hard. I get that they want their own place for communication. Fortunately for me, my momma does not tweet...YET.

BUT, it also made me stop and think. What social media sites are our students choosing now? Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Ask.fm, YouTube, Tumbler, SnapChat...and the list goes on and on. Not only are there lots of choices, but it actually seems like some "schools" prefer some sites more than others, some age groups within teens prefer some sites over others, and what is THE BEST one day, may not be the best the next day. (For example, my own teens were on Vine all the time, Instagram enters the picture creating the ability to video and now they rarely Vine. That is not always the case but for my kids: One day Vine is hot, the next day it is not.)

What does it matter? I feel like as a school body we have a responsibility to teach our students to be responsible on these sites but we also have a responsibility to help parents stay "in the know." Not every parent has the time to navigate #edtech and #socialmedia hashtags to read the latest breaking news. (Oddly to me, there are few parents that find joy in all this like I do.) <---Read sarcastically.

So how do we do this? At our school we are creating a "tech council" comprised of students, teachers, administrators and parents for discussions on subject matter like social media and other issues regarding technology and education. I am excited about this! For me, right now it is fairly easy to see what is "trending" at our school because I have two high school students...but it will not always be that way. Someone else will have to tell me what their kids downloaded last night. This will be a great way for our school to not only stay aware of the latest, greatest technology app but it will also allow for open dialogue and communication in how it effects all of us at every age level.

My "mantra" for this year has been "PROACTIVE NOT REACTIVE." I think this tech council is a step in the right direction to keep us in that mindset.

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