Facebook requires individuals to be 13 years of age or older in order to use it. However, in our Elementary Schools there are more and more children logging in. In our schools and school communities, parents often look towards the Educators and Community Police that come to our schools to be the experts on social media. Together, we are able to deliver a lot of great information about protecting our children online. However, the truth is that we still know relatively little about how the long-term effects of social media will ultimately impact our students growth and development intellectually, mentally and emotionally. These are all aspects that directly influence both personal and academic success within our school systems.
Within the education system, we are all continuing to build awareness with our students regarding personal safety, protecting against online predators, and cyber-bullying. These concerns are of the utmost importance, as we need to help protect our students from emotional and physical harm.
With such widespread usage of Facebook by our youth, it is often impossible for children ignore bullying, and process other messages being sent through Facebook. Children no longer have the ability to leave difficult or confusing situations just by leaving school at the end of the day, or by going and playing somewhere else with opportunity to start fresh the next day. If a child’s self-esteem is already impacted by real-time social situations that include bullying, then how much deeper are they impacted when this occurs online, never to go away, and for anyone to see?
Suggestions for Educators to implement in the classroom:
- Engage in ongoing discussions in our classrooms and schools to keep the lines of communication open to build a safe environment for students to seek help when needed.
- Model digital citizenship within the classroom and take it from the abstract to the concrete.
- Embed Social Media into classroom teachings and demonstrate effective ways of using the tools.
- Extend Character Education initiatives within the school to into Social Media
- Actively Involve students in mapping out their learning online, and help them to make meaningful connections to personal experience
- Provide opportunities for Reflection about what they are contributing and learning
- Embed social media into the curriculum, and allow students the chance to use it in effective ways
- Obtain your own Facebook account and learn about how to use this important piece of reality in our students lives in the 21st century.
Though Facebook requires students to be 13 years or older in order to use it, the reality is that there are many Primary Students who are logging in, and this has the potential to greatly impact self-esteem and learning at school.
Do you think that we should we be discussing Facebook with our Primary Students?
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/