While most social media accounts require a box checked that says the user is 13 years old or older, the reality is that I teach many elementary students with Instagram, Facebook, Vine, and SnapChat accounts every day. I make the assumption that parents are monitoring and an active participant of the usage of these accounts. My students and parents hear regularly why I don't think elementary students are socially ready for social media accounts. I saw a post on Twitter attributed to a Huffington Post article that I agree 100% with, "A digitally illiterate parent poses a clear risk to the privacy and safety of children. - Suren Ramasubbu." Parents that aren't involved and monitoring their children's technology usage are setting their children up for potential risk (emotional, physical, and future hire-ability) with the lack of accountability.
As an instructional technologist, I look for ways to prepare my students for future technology usage. A large portion of many teens lives is social media related. Recently I have been looking into how I can be both proactive and pre-emptive in regards to the huge role social media plays in today's society. I do not believe that it is wise for elementary students to be in the world of social media by themselves but I recently came up with a way to introduce them to social media in a non-threatening, positive way. I created a "twitter wall" for all our elementary students to see positive ways social media can be used.
According to Pew Research Center, as of 2012, 95% of teens ages 12-17 are now online. Social media is one of the biggest usage areas for teens as well (http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/teens-fact-sheet/). Part of teaching good citizenship skills to our elementary students includes instructing them on the positives and negatives of social media. This Twitter wall is an example of that. By teaching students positive uses of social media, we are modeling effective ways to effect the culture of social media for “good.”
This project gives them a taste of creating their own “tweet” to be handwritten and placed upon the wall for the whole school to see using the hashtag #I♡CCS. Several things are being accomplished by this project:
- Students are being introduced to a social media “website” in a positive way. Not by seeing negative posts by the world but by seeing it used for positive experiences.
- Students are learning what a “character” is in terms of typing because of the 140 character limit placed on all Twitter tweets.
- Students are learning to be concise in what they want to communicate, also due to the 140 character limit.
- Students have a “school wide” audience to share why they love their school. They are given a voice to share their thoughts.
- This project helps students understand the use of hashtags and how it can help them in life (i.e.- use of Twitter as a research tool).
- This project promotes the positive influence of "Student Life" through sharing things the students like about their school.
By being proactive and positively and appropriately introducing students to social media before it is a pull in their lives, we feel like we are being “pre-emptive” in dealing with future possible issues. Our goal in the elementary school is to prepare our students to be good digital citizens for the rest of their lives.