On almost any given day, you will probably find a student using social media in your classroom. Whether they are sneaking a cell phone out to recess, trying to scroll Instagram during instruction, or using the Internet for a class project- our students are navigating a digital environment on a daily basis.
It’s common knowledge that our charges are logged onto social media networks and have a large digital footprint. After all, many of them can’t even remember a time before wireless Internet. Chances are that when you went into the education field you didn’t sign on to be a social media expert, but we need to install the appropriate skills in our students so they can navigate the world to become successful adults.
Many educators answer this need by including social media outlets in their lessons. There are real benefits for children when using sites like Facebook or Twitter. Social media networks can increase communication skills and offer access to a world of information. Unfortunately, there are some negative downsides to all of this online sharing.
Student Oversharing By The Numbers
With social networking on the rise, it is estimated that teens log onto their favorite social media sites 10 times a day. That surprising level of online engagement opens our students up to a variety of dangers that range from cyber bullying to accessibility for sexual predators.
Listed below are some common things our students share on social media (but shouldn’t!):
● class schedules
● places they work
● intimate photos
● personal issues
● schools attended
● full names
● phone numbers
Oversharing is one area that children might struggle with- often they don’t even realize that they are posting dangerous information. Or the reverse is true. The boys and girls simply don’t believe or care that sharing intimate details might someday impact them in the future.
Educating Students About Social Media OverSharing
Many people often question if it is a teacher’s job to teach children about oversharing, but if you use social media or technology in your classroom it is important to give children the necessary life skills to be safe. Unfortunately, we can’t simply lecture that “this is dangerous” or “don’t do it” and expect them to heed our warnings.
Teenagers, especially, are hardwired to take risks or display poor judgment. However, all is not lost. There are a few thing teachers can do in the classroom to help children reduce the amount of oversharing online. Here are six strategies to educate about oversharing in your classroom:
Teach digital citizenship. Take character education one step further and apply it to online activities. Focus on “treating people with kindness” or stranger danger awareness before branching out to more specifics.
Give them opportunities to practice social media etiquette in a safe environment. If you use blogs or Facebook posts in class, they apply their skills in leaving polite comments
Start teaching them how to protect their personal information. Even young students should know the basics: don’t use your real name, avoid telling your address, and be selective with the photos you share. As children age, you can include more age appropriate tips.
Before assigning a class website or social media account, have a direct lesson about how to set privacy settings on their accounts. We can’t expect students to have skills that they haven’t been taught. Walking them through this process can help them safeguard their digital bodies.
Lead by example! Model good behavior and reinforce these skills by giving feedback. Use visual aids or videos that demonstrate thinking before you post or overshare.
Above all, we need to show the merit of protecting your privacy online. Oversharing can be detrimental to our students in ways that can affect them in their future jobs, family lives, and emotional well being. It’s easy for us to talk all day long about the benefits of proper digital citizenship, but we need to put it into action.
What are some ways you teach about oversharing on social media?