Examples abound these days of high school students getting into trouble over their misuse of social media. Surprisingly, there’s a great example this week of putting the power of social media to good use in education. The Billings Montana school system is using high school Facebook Confession pages to teach students the right way to use social media, and the risks and negatives of using it improperly. It is worth noting that nowhere in the article does it say that Facebook is bad, or that Facebook group pages or anonymous posts should be banned.
As an educator, what can you do? Obviously, you don’t want any social media platform to be a forum for bullying of students, particularly the anonymous kind, which is more difficult to track and therefore the behavior harder to correct. Bullying examples in plain sight on a public Facebook page can be a good example of what not to do. The Billings school district doesn’t stop there, though.
What are the messages that can be delivered to students using Facebook as an example?
- Be a good person – This remains the most important lesson
- Crowd source a better definition of bullying – Some kids don’t have an accurate view of what is bullying, or how the person on the receiving end feels
- How to report social media bullying or abuse
- Privacy settings are vey important
- “Private” still may not really be private online
Not surprisingly, even the FBI has an opinion:
“Even though they think that they’re posting anonymously, their activity can truly be tracked,” explained FBI Special Agent Earl Campbell. “They can be identified for what they are posting and … saying if they’re illegal or break the law.”
Just talking to kids about the risks of doing something tends to not have a huge impact. Kids often think they know everything or that they’re invincible. Actually showing them real examples of the risks can be much more effective.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.