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Everything listed under: Social Media

  • Social Media: Block It or Teach Around It?

    Should schools block access to social media or teach students to use it responsibly? Tweet this

    Is there a healthy middle ground?

    Abigail Walthausen is a writer and high school English teacher who recently published an article in The Atlantic that made us curious to know what you think:

    Should schools continue to block the parts of the Internet that are deemed distracting, or should they teach students to work effectively amidst those possible disruptions?

    Walthausen’s article encourages schools and teachers to embrace the “many-headed hydra that is social media”, and to give students “guidance in becoming productive citizens of the web”.

    Citing psychologist Larry Rosen and writer Amanda Ripley, Walthausen encourages educators to teach students how to actively manage internet-based interruptions, and to think of social media not just as a distraction, but as something that can be integrated meaningfully into daily life. The logic? That later on, these young people will be more valuable as employees if they’re able to balance focused work and social interaction (in real life or online).

    Walthausen’s primary criticism of the way most schools handle Internet-based distractions is that they use content-blocking software that is clunky and broad. Instead of filtering content in a nuanced way (protecting students from dangerous content, while leaving access to harmless content), most of the filtering software used in schools blocks entire websites or types of websites from students. Walthausen calls this “brute-force technology”.

    “Brute-force technology” filtering means that many students and classrooms are blocked from entire categories of websites, such as all blogging software or all of YouTube. “These broad filters aren’t actually very helpful,’ says Walthausen, “because we need much more nuanced filtering”.

    Walthausen’s bottom line is that filtering in schools isn’t inherently a bad thing, but that filters are less important than teaching students to manage Internet distractions. According to Walthausen, schools should teach students to “live responsibly and productively on the Internet”.

    What Do You Think?
    Do you think that schools should use Internet filters at all grade levels, or is there an age or grade level at which the focus should shift from filtering content to teaching students to work productively in its midst? Should educators push for more nuanced filtering software so that the worst content is filtered while non-dangerous content is made available to students?

    We want to hear from you. Leave a comment today here on the blog or on our Facebook Page.


  • Three Ways to Keep Your Teenager Safe on Social Media


    A recent study revealed that kids — even those whose closest friends don’t drink or smoke — are more likely to drink or smoke when they see pictures posted online of their social media friends smoking or drinking.

    While you can’t ever keep your teen 100% safe online, there are things you can do to mitigate the risk that your child will make unhealthy choices based on social media peer pressure.

    Honest Conversations
    Begin by realizing that your child faces traditional peer pressures like the ones you faced as a teen, but that a near-constant barrage of social media messages is also influencing him or her 24/7.

    Let your teen know that you recognize the pressures (online and off) to drink and smoke, and that you understand how intense those pressures can be.

    Listen to what your son or daughter has to say, and keep an open dialogue going with him or her about what’s happening at school, with friends, and online.

    Don’t Try to Outsmart Your Teen
    If your teenager knows more about technology than you do, attempting to outwit him or her on social media won’t help anyone. Instead, talk with your teen about the benefits and risks of social media use.

    Talk about the legal, academic, and social repercussions of sharing inappropriate or illegal pictures and statuses on social media.

    Talk about how online actions can affect real-life reputation, and remind your son or daughter that real friendships aren’t based on encouraging risky behaviors or online vulnerability.

    Profile Accessibility
    Make sure that you know what social media sites your teens uses, and that you have full access to view each of those profiles. Routinely — and openly — sit down with your teen to look at his or her online accounts together. Check security settings, talk about what your son or daughter has recently posted, and encourage your teen to share things with you that they’ve seen and enjoyed lately.

    Look together at what your child’s friends are posting, too. Talk to your son or daughter about how those things make him or her feel. Are there friends whose profiles make your child smile, laugh and feel good? What about friends whose pictures and updates make your child feel intimidated, pressured, or “not good enough”?

    You’ve helped your child navigate real life pressures and friendships since they were small, and you can help your teen do the same online.

    Come back to the MOParent Blog regularly for parenting tips, educational policy updates, and information about Missouri’s public schools. We can even send updates directly to your inbox! Just submit your email address and zip code at the to top of this page.

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