With my recent post concerning children’s ability to self-teach (found here), I have reflected on who the role models are for students on the Internet. Though students possess the ability to teach themselves how to use technology and social media sites, from who are they learning how to act?
As a teenager, I have witnessed countless fights over social media. One person (Person A) is upset and relinquishes their rampant emotions on social media due to the actions/words of another (Person B), usually without mentioning the person’s name they are confronting or–if they are brave enough–by tagging them in the post. Person B then sees the post or is told to do so by a friend and comments on Person A’s post. This then leads to more people getting involved and throwing around vulgar, tasteless words as if they are sugary sweet in their mouths until one person finally decides to “be the bigger person” and stop commenting back. (Now, if by this point you are extremely confused and cannot follow the line back and forth, you read it right. These fights are usually pointless and conclude with neither party saying “I’m sorry” but are seen talking and laughing together the very next week.)
To clarify, these fights do not solely include teenagers. I have seen some comments from parents of either Person A or Person B (or neither and is one whom simply enjoys other people’s drama) that cross the line from cat fighting to war. These parents disregard their responsibilities as authority figures and lay everything out on the table.
Now, if grown adults are bashing others and posting demeaning words about another due to their appearance, then we cannot blame the children for doing the same thing. These adults are the preceding generation, the ones to create footsteps in the snow for the young’uns to follow. If they are comfortable with representing themselves in a negative way on the public Internet through their use of profanity, crude judgment, and bullying (of a sort), then why would students concern themselves with preventing them? If their parents can call other people vulgar names without consequence, then, in a child’s mind, so can they.
Educators preach against cyberbullying and for niceties on the Internet, but others in their generation ignore this responsibility. Though the educators themselves may not be hypocrites, adults in general appear hypocritical to students when the whole does not follow what few preach. Students need guidelines…even if they do shy away from them at first. It is proven that all children want an authority figure to tell them what is right and what is wrong, what they can and cannot do. Though students may rebel against someone changing their way of (ab)using social media, it is in their best interest for the future.
Due to this necessity for guidance, I wish to exhibit how social media should and shouldn’t be used for students. I first began by filming my Youtube series “The Top Ten Things Not To Do On Twitter.” In addition, I hope to show students through my DVD the consequences that will arise from their abuse. I understand many will be hesitant to accept my offer to alter their usage, but I hope in time they will warm to my guidance once they recognize the true impact, positive or negative, that social media can have on their lives, depending on what they choose to post. I hope, due to my age and the fact I can relate to students easier than an adult, students will be receptive to my message as it does have an important role in their future.
But I cannot do this alone, which is why I am calling on all educators to band with me as we begin the tug-of-war contest with those who don’t believe social media should play a role in education and those students who refuse to let go of their previous ways.
Social media and technology are ever-evolving and expanding. They are infiltrating our businesses, government facilities, and yes, schools. One may want to disagree, but most schools have their own website and computers (provided for teachers at least). This epidemic will not stop, and as I’ve said before, it just depends on when you decide to jump on the wagon headed to 21st century skills and thinking.