Why aren’t we teaching kids how to use social media?

Much of the time, educational institutions miss the point of educating their students on social media.

I write this on the back of this article that appears in The Age newspaper. http://www.theage.com.au/technology/quit-facebook-or-be-expelled-school-says-20120516-1yqp0.html

This is happening in the town where I live, and we know that the State Education body is sorely lacking in foresight in social media, what it is, the impact that it has on people’s lives and the education that is needed to make people responsible online citizens.

Undoubtedly we want to avoid any kind of negative consequences that comes from social media – and in particular, we want to avoid bullying and harassment.

In Queensland, the education board has essentially banned any access to social media, with teachers pulling their hair out as they can’t provide access to learning materials or even educate the students on how to use social media.  Banning social media access, even for primary school kids, only sends the problem underground.  People will try to hide it, hide their access, hide the fact that they may be getting bullied.

You make it a taboo.  You make being bad on it akin to smoking.  Banning it makes it cool.

What you need to do is open up access, bring it out from the dark underbelly of schools and organisations.  You need to educate people on what is acceptable.  You need to empower people – particualrly primary school students on how to use social media.  You need to empower them to speak up if they find bullying behaviour or are being bullied themselves.

We are hearing more and more of teens committing suicide due to bullying.  We know that to talk about the problem – bring the problems out in the open is a great way of helping these kids.  So why are school principals, government workers and organisations forcing this underground.

You may not want to admit that is, or could be happening in your area.  But it is.

Lets tackle this like adults – and give the kids the knowledge to handle this too.

It ain’t going away.

*** I work in social media, I don’t have counselling or psychology training.

*** Wrote this on the fly, so please forgive any grammar or syntax errors.

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