Why we need to learn how to speak “Social Media”!

We often believe that our students are extremely savvy when it comes to using social media. I wish that was the case, I am sure there are some – however not the students that I met recently.

For the past four months I have visited six high schools and presented to over 2000 high school students. The purpose of my visits was to educate students about how to use social media appropriately.

Don’t get me wrong, they are using it. They use it to communicate with their friends, they socialize, they play games, they connect and sometimes they even plan events and learn. Everyone has their own way of using social media. The issue that I have is that they have very little idea how to maximize the potential of using it.

I would like to paint a picture of how my presentation usually goes… Usually I start by asking the students “How do you use social media?” followed by showing them these tools:

The students cheer and scream. They feel like they own these tools (often not knowing the last two –edmodo and diigo – which is so unfortunate as they are wonderful education tools not being used in their schools). They get up from their seats and volunteer in front of their peers to showcase their knowledge about social media. It is like a secret society for the students. They are always shocked when I begin discussing social media with them, like, “who is this lady and how does she know our secret social media language!” It is actually quite sad that they don’t have more experiences (besides Facebook) with their teachers and parents when it comes to using social media. How are they supposed to know how to use it properly when their teachers, parents and principals have no idea how to use it. Imagine putting a bunch of five year olds out in the playground during lunch without the lunch monitor present, it would be complete CHAOS! These students need adults online with them. They need someone questioning them and teaching them right from wrong.

This is not THEIR domain, not THEIR secret society. This is the world wide web. NOTHING IS EVER PRIVATE…EVER!

Most of the adults in their lives have NO idea what they are doing on there and no one is teaching them how important it is to begin building their digital identities from a young age. Most importantly no one is showing them how they can harness the power of social media, create their own personal learning networks, search the web efficiently and effectively… become digital citizens.

Where do we begin…

Watch out for part 2 of this post. I will begin to provide some practical strategies for teaching about online safety and privacy with your students.

Below are my Harnessing the Power of Social Media presentations:

Presented for Upper Elementary and Middle School Students

Presented for 9-11th graders

Presented for College Students and Adults

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