Magazine article Technology & Learning

Best Practices around Social Media Safety

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Best Practices around Social Media Safety

Article excerpt

With the emergence of new technologies and the access students now have to the Internet, it's no surprise that social media safety has become a more pressing issue, both in and out of schools. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, 3 in 5 responding students reported being harassed on a social media platform, 1 in 4 witnessed someone being physically threatened, and 1 in 11 were stalked on social media. Most students have no idea what their online rights are and are reticent to let a teacher or parent know when they're facing challenges online.

What steps can we take to help protect students when they're using social media?

THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE

While students use social media regularly, the appropriate parameters for these interactions aren't intuitive. Teachers and parents need to have intentional conversations with kids about social media. When, for example, is it appropriate to post? Should you friend or connect with anyone who asks? How do you protect access to your accounts so they're not public? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but educators need to consider these kinds of issues when they're developing policies for social media use at school. They're also questions that parents should discuss openly with their children. Conversations about social media provide adults with significant teachable moments regarding how to treat others with respect and kindness.

DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS

Schools need to cover the topic of digital footprints and the permanency of online content every year with students. Sites like Common Sense Media provide well-designed lessons for students as well as resources for parents who want to discuss social media topics with their children. Developing students' media literacy skills is important. The reason for educating them about the harm that can exist online is not to scare them but to give them a framework for thinking about how to use social media safely and wisely.

FILTER, FILTER, FILTER

Thanks to the Children's Internet Protection Act of2000 and its 2011 expansion, districts have been both savvy and proactive about putting filters in place to protect students while they're at school. …

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