I teach primary school children. A few years ago, social media, mobile phones and cyber bullying were things I didn't need to worry about with the kids in my class, but this has all changed so fast.
Now, I know that schools are getting better at confronting cyber bullying and there are the talks, and the guidelines, and all the fantastic warning videos, but while these can be very useful and have their place some times it really needs to come from a frank open discussion.
Here are the 5 Questions you need to ask the children in your class about their Social Media use.
Q1: Do you really know the rules for using a social media site?
So many children don't actually know how old they need to be to post on Facebook. Many have no idea that they are agreeing to allow their personal information to be passed on if they check certain boxes. They need to be aware of this stuff and not just dismiss it as boring and unimportant.
YouTube: 18 (!) but 13 year olds can use a parent's account
Q2: Is your profile really private?
So many people have open Facebook profiles and they don't even know it. The settings on Facebook are quite complicated and are updated often making keeping all of your profile private quite a tricy business. For exampel lots of people don't know that by selecting 'Just my friends' in the priavcy tab only applies to new posts, so anything that has been posted before that is seected can still be seen by anyone. Also 'friends of friends' means that anyone who is connected to someone you knwo can also see everything you post. This is somethign a lot of children are just not aware of.
Q3: Where do you use Social Media?
It is quite worrying the amount of children who are happy to use social media in the bathroom and bedroom. Not only just this limit adult supervision, it can also be dangerous for reasons of hacking and childrensharing inappropriate photos.
Q4: Would you accept a friend request from someone you know?
I usually ask this question after asking 'Would you accept a friend request from someone you don't know?' The answer to that one is always a well trained 'No Miss' but when asked this question they seem puzzled, of course they would, it's social media is it for connecting with your friends. I think it is worth reminding them that they don't really know if this person contacting them is actually their friend at all and in fact it is best not to accept any friend request until they have spoken to their friend in person to make sure it is them!
Q5: What do you consider personal information?
Now this question is a really scary one, the children's idea of what is and isn't personal information differs a lot. Some children think just your name and address is personal but details about your parents, your age and which school you go to are fine. There things are of course still provate details and children need to be aware that sharing them is very dangerous. It is also wise to point out that personal details can be shown without being told. A photo of someone in their school uniform with the school name across the chest can make figuring out their school very easy!
Now I hate to write such depressing posts, but sometimes it seems the interests of our children are moving faster than their knowledge of how to use them safely and we as teachers need to do everything we can to make sure they are safe and well informed!
For more information check out the Interactive Schools Information and this great post about how teens can fight cyber bullying
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