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A student's perspective on the use of social media

A student's perspective on the use of social media

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Until I created an account on Twitter, I had no idea that social media could offer educational resources. Becoming absorbed in connecting with friends on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, I became oblivious to the fact that I could use my generation’s favorite resource to cultivate my passion for education. After using Twitter primarily to read articles from The Huffington Post, I found myself using all aspects of social media in a more positive and effective way and gaining more knowledge about various subjects. Ultimately, this is what adults continually work to encourage students to achieve.

When adults think of students using social media, troubling thoughts may come to mind. More often than not, the inevitable combination has a negative connotation. Due to fear or a lack of trust, adults worry that students are unable to present themselves maturely and appropriately. Such worries can certainly be valid; however, if continually educated about the proper use of social media, students are more likely to post cautiously and positively.

To ease concerns, adults should make themselves more involved with students’ use of social media. For example, parents should always follow or be friends with their students on all of their existing social media outlets. If students refuse to allow their parents to be friends with or follow them, then social media privileges should be taken away. When parents directly monitor social media activity, students are less likely to post, favorite, like, share, or retweet inappropriate content.

Enforcing strict boundaries proves to be equally important as a positive outlook when discussing poor behavior on social media with students. By maintaining this balance, students will not only sense a dedicated support system at home and at school, but also realize that social media should be used responsibly. Instead of reprimanding students and focusing solely on the negatives, adults could try a more encouraging approach. Students are more likely to respond effectively if they feel supported, while being reminded that they have multiple adults to turn to for advice.

Additionally, if adults and students are on the same level of understanding social media, the positive use of it among students could be enhanced. By obtaining a thorough understanding of social media, adults would not only be able to guide students in the right direction, but also suggest educational resources. This means that both students and adults should be experimenting with new social media outlets.

Talking about activity on social media with students can be a tricky subject to broach until trust is established between both parties. To make the topic easier to discuss, students should be made aware of social media as soon as possible. Parents and educators should introduce the topic at early age and guide students in the right direction. If an educator reads an interesting article on Twitter, he or she could integrate it into the beginning of class as bell work. In doing so, students are shown that social media can be used for educational purposes.

If students are presented with guidance regarding social media at home and at school, they’re more likely to catch on to the hint that they’re not invincible. This is probably one of the most prevalent misconceptions that students have when it comes to social media. Because students have grown up in an age where it’s completely normal to have social media at their fingertips, the idea that there are boundaries seems to slip the minds of many.

While adults want to protect students from the negative content on social media, it’s crucial to make them aware that it exists. By showing students an article or video about someone who faced consequences for inappropriately using social media, students realize that they don’t have the right to post, like, or share whatever they please.

Additionally, most students don’t use social media for educational purposes because they generally aren’t exposed to such an idea. While sharing photos of one’s lunch or tweeting celebrities isn’t exactly harmful, it doesn’t prove to be as impactful as being introduced to resources that could assist in educational development.

When discovering a reliable resource through social media that can be used for educational development, educators and parents should immediately share it. Something as simple as assigning an article to read for homework or listing a few social media resources on the white board could inspire students to go the extra mile to research topics on their own.

With the help of dedicated parents and educators, students become more aware of their social media activity. If the thought of positively using the resource is repetitively discussed throughout students’ days, it will undoubtedly transform into a universally understood expectation that students adhere to.


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Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I'm wondering what you think of teachers using social media in the context of the classroom. Would a study group on Facebook be something to try? How about a classroom question and answer "twitter chat" using a specific hashtag a few times a week at specific times? Would you consider doing a Google Hangout or Skype study session with your teacher or other students before a test?

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Taylor Young's picture
Taylor Young
High School Student, Aspiring Educator

Those are all wonderful ideas! I particularly like the Facebook study group as a resource for students outside of the classroom, because not only would they be able to receive help from the teacher, but also from their peers. As for Twitter, the classroom question with a specific hashtag would be a great way to start class, while the teacher is preparing materials for the first few minutes. If used in the classroom, social media needs to have a healthy balance. Students should still be encouraged to come in during lunch or before/after school for extra help, instead of always relying on social media.

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Gwen Pescatore's picture
Gwen Pescatore
President Home & School Assoc, #ParentCamp Organizer, Co-Moderator #PTchat

Taylor...Thank you for sharing your growing experience with, and perspective of, social media. I completely agree that we need to do a better job of modeling and exposing children/students to positive uses...from a young age. You only know what you know. If a student only hears and sees the negative or gossip-y aspect, how would you know more is out there.

Whitney...it seems funny to me that educators/adults don't hesitate to use social media to learn from and with others - yet we fear the idea of students doing the same. Just as a teacher may review classroom expectations at the start of the school year, or parents may before taking a child to their first playdate, we should feel confident that after reviewing online expectations, and with some supervision, students can also use virtual tools to further their learning.

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Brian Sztabnik's picture
Brian Sztabnik
AP Literature teacher from Miller Place, NY

Taylor,

This is such a great post. You wrote, "Additionally, most students don't use social media for educational purposes because they generally aren't exposed to such an idea."

Help me as a teacher. How do I encourage my students to see social media in this way? How do I make the educational purpose of Twitter and Facebook cool?

Taylor Young's picture
Taylor Young
High School Student, Aspiring Educator

Mr. Sztabnik,

Thank you! If you haven't already, I think you should start by making your students aware that you use social media. Not only will students realize that their teacher can relate to their favorite resource, but also help them use it to understand material taught in the classroom. For the purpose of Twitter/Facebook, I think making a class account or page would definitely encourage students. You could post links for homework, suggest accounts to follow, articles to read, or videos to watch for certain topics that relate to class. Instead of taking to google, your students could refer to your account or page for help that you have already approved or even tweet you with questions. Additionally, you could post videos/pictures from your class of students' work, so they could learn from each other and realize that they too can post things from class. If students have teachers who regularly integrate social media into their classroom, they'll realize that they can use it for education. For example, my art teacher from last year created an account on Twitter and posted pictures from her classes. She always had her Twitter handle written largely on the white board, so students would always see it. Also, she followed other art accounts on twitter, so I referred to who she was following to learn more about art and gain inspiration. Hope that helps!

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