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Facebook for Primary Students?!

by Deborah McCallum

I recently was discussing with my Primary students about how we are going to be using Social Media in the Classroom, and more specifically, about my plan to use Twitter as a forum to ‘’Tweet’ about what we have learned in our Science Class. This precipitated a discussion about Social Media that many of the students were already using. More specifically, I unexpectedly learned that many of them already have their own Facebook Accounts. I have to admit, that I was actually quite surprised to find out that Facebook is a tool that many students are starting to navigate at younger and younger ages. Since that day, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the implications of Primary students having their own Facebook accounts.

 Facebook is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things, and we still have much that we need to understand. While there are certainly positives of students using Social Media in  environments, but just what are the social, emotional, and cognitive impacts of engaging in Facebook from a very young age?

Some questions we may need to ask ourselves can include:

What are the social implications of younger students using Facebook?

  • How will facebook affect the emotional development of our students?
  • Does Facebook impact self-esteem, even if someone is not being explicitly bullied?
  • How will these effects impact learning both in, and out of the classroom?
  • What will it mean for the future if educators are not aware of these external realities that students are now a part of?
  • Does facebook have the ability to completely overshadow the efforts of education system?

There are certainly many aspects of facebook usage for all children that we simply do not understand enough about yet. We also know the story of Amanda Todd, and how the users of facebook created an unbelievably grim reality for this young girl, and thus preventing her from fulfilling her true potential.

The realities created and learned in cyber-space, are just as real and true as the realities we create and learn with others face to face, and in real-time. With all of that being said, it is still a reality that Social Media will not be going away, and will only continue to grow! Further, there are many benefits to using social media effectively as well, and key ways that we can implement within the classroom.

To ensure the success of our students, what strategies can we as educators implement to help guide our youngest students as they enter the world of ‘Facebook’ and other social media?


Deborah McCallum is an Educator and a Writer. She writes both Fiction, & Non-Fiction including Curriculum, Psychology of Learning, and of how we can incorporate First Nations, Metis, & Inuit perspectives in education. With Graduate Studies in Counselling Psychology, and over 12 years of Teaching and Librarianship experience, Deborah has developed in-depth expertise and knowledge into important issues surrounding Education in the 21st Century. Visit Deborah’s blog http://bigideasinedu.edublogs.org/




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  • http://adunsiger.com Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca)

    Deborah, I found your post really interesting, as I used Twitter with my Grade 1′s and 1/2′s before. It definitely takes time to model for students what to include or not include when they’re sharing online. Here are some things I considered:

    1) before having students tweet on their own, we tweeted as a class. This gradual release of responsibility, helped me model some different ways to use this tool, and what to share when tweeting.

    2) using private accounts can help during the teaching phase. While I used Twitter from September on with my students, I had students writing on their own using Edmodo or Twiducate. These private social networks mimic Twitter and Facebook, but being private, they help when students make mistakes. We can go through these mistakes and learn from them together.

    3) do some direct teaching on digital citizenship. Our Board released some fantastic lessons on this topic, so this helps. While the lessons are targeted more for Grades 4 and above, I used many with my Grade 1′s and 2′s and modified them accordingly. Students need to understand this topic before using social media in the classroom (in my opinion).

    4) make an anchor chart with students. It’s great to include pictures and words, so that all students can read the chart. Create a list of what to include when using these tools, and what not to include. This chart really helped my students, especially when we started using these tools.

    5) get parents involved in reinforcing what they’re learning in the classroom at home. When parents helped model for their children how to use social media well, this made a really big difference. Students could then help their peers, and the conversations online were that much better. I noticed this even with my young students.

    Sorry for such a long comment, but I hope you find this helpful!