While adults continue to grapple with social media for business and personal communication, our society straddles a paradigm. Kids are growing up with social media integrated into their lives and the idea of “open communication” is taking on a whole new meaning. Kids often seem willing to put anything online, without considering the effect it may have on their future.
Social Media and Bullying
Today, reports of online bullying are skyrocketing. Virtual bullying is isolating some kids and has even pushed teenagers to commit suicide. This bullying is becoming somewhat of a norm in our connected world. Schools are now using precious resources to track down digital “slam books,” and shutting them down. Positive intentions aside, it’s challenging to shut down a Twitter “slam book” with an anonymous owner, and it does not solve the root of the problem. In defense, parents are turning to the law to protect their children.
It All Goes Back to Education – Social Media Education
While student education is essential, parents must also understand social media. Last year, I attended a social media learning session for parents at a private high school. The meeting was designed to proactively teach parents about social media and provide tools to help their kids navigate it. Instead, the session became a discussion about taking legal action against online bullies. Parents were willing to take legal action against bullies, yet there was no conversation about how to prevent it.
This issue has become an epidemic. Kids can open social media accounts without suitable knowledge of the consequences. Unfortunately, most parents lack the social media knowledge required to teach their kids properly. Would you hand car keys to your kids without teaching them how to drive? Our education system also plays a role in this issue. While schools struggle to catch up, the social media world continues to evolve.
What Can We Do?
Kids must learn about the responsibilities of social media use before high school. In order to change the current trends of bullying and negative messaging we need to educate kids young. While we cannot stop all bullying, we can proactively empower kids and their parents with the knowledge and skills to use these tools effectively. By spreading this knowledge, we can alter the harsh landscape we currently face.
Social media illiteracy must end. If a parent does not understand social networks, how can young generations learn to use them effectively? As we address today’s teenagers, we must also look to tomorrow and figure out what we can do to make the transition from being a child into being a social teen smoother. We owe it to our kids to figure out a way to begin empowering them with these social media tools instead of letting them simply figure it out on their own.
Sign up here to receive email updates on education related posts from thepassionlabs.com.