Social Media: The dark side (secondary)

Before I begin this post, I’d like to note that there are extremely positive uses for social media in education. For example,  social media can be used as sharing tools  for resources, gathering survey data, collaborating with peers, participating in group work, meeting with mentor and experts and publishing students’ work, just to name a few. However, students frequently use social media for non school purposes and they need to be educated about how to use it correctly and how to ask for help when needed.

Having taught in both primary and secondary classes, I’ve had the opportunity to experience how different in nature the two are when it comes to educating students about social media. From a primary perspective, it is much easier as the classroom teacher generally has their own class the majority of the time. However, enter a secondary classroom, and students have specialist teachers for many different subjects. So whose responsibility is it?

Is it the Health teacher’s responsibility who has students one lesson per week? Is it the technology teacher who as them two lessons a week? Is it the year level coordinator who organises someone in to give students the ‘talk’ about social media? Ideally, I think it should be every teacher’s responsibility. Since, I am in the position of a secondary technology teacher, I thought I’d share how I approach social media with my year 8 students.

I begin discussing Terms of Use (previous blog LINK) and then we explore privacy, the right of any person or group to keep their lives from public view and to have control over who sees it. Sometimes an action that breaches privacy might not be illegal but is unethical. Allow students time to discuss scenarios which may be unethical, such as posting a picture of a friend online without their permission.

Then I use a video by THINK U KNOW called ‘Consequences‘. I first saw this video years ago at a conference and the entire audience was in silence at the end. Well, this video was just people acting. It still has an impact, but now I also share Carly’s story with students.

“In 2006 Carly Ryan thought she had met her dream boyfriend online. His name was Brandon Kane, a 18yr old musician from Melbourne. Brandon was in fact fictitious. An internet construct, the cyberspace alter ego of Gary Francis Newman, a 50yr old predator and paedophile…In February 2007, Gary Newman convinced Carly to meet him. He took Carly to a secluded beach at Port Elliott, South Australia. There, he bashed her, pushed her face into the sand, suffocating her, he then threw her into the water to drown. She was only 15yrs old”(source).

As a class, watch this VIDEO LINK about Carly’s story. Some people may disagree with me showing this, it is very confronting but I personally think students need to know. It is particularly relevant for my classes as I teach all girls and we are in South Australia, just like Carly was.

Then I follow this with another video by THINK U KNOW (LINK) about Carly in which her mother tells of the app she made in memory of Carly. It is important to debrief students,  discuss who they can talk to if they are feeling unsure or uncomfortable about an online relationship.

Following this, I allow students to play Digital Compass which I have previously blogged (LINK). This game gives students the opportunity to make good (and not-so-good) decisions, and to try out possible solutions to scenarios through role-play, stories and mini games – all without risking their real-world reputations.​

Finally, I ask students to create a graphic organiser to share their thoughts on social media. I suggest four quadrants; (1) What excites me (2) What worries me (3) What I need to know and (4) My stance or suggestions.

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