TED Conversations

Chanda Gohrani

Social Media Manager , Quib.ly

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Should social media be taught in school?

More and more kids are being bullied on social media, few even losing their lives. Also a lot of them spoil their future job possibilities by posting something stupid online because they don't understand future employers must be watching.

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  • Feb 28 2013: Tax dollars to pay for computer use, absolutely! If students have access to technology it opens up a vast amount of information. Social media is ONE tool students can use for interaction and collaborative learning. If use of social media can spark interest in learning I'm all for it. Someone said "Education is not the filling of buckets , but the lighting of a fire." Students today seem to lack passion and a desire for learning. Why did that happen? If social media, despite it's dangers, can recreate that spark, why not? And don't say it is a waste of tax dollars, because tax dollars are wasted on so many other USELESS things. Money is never wasted when it's for the purpose of educating our children.
  • Feb 28 2013: Chandra, I would submit that Socially Responsible Media should be taught. Starting with security/privacy measures and then moving through the issues you raise. Implement the foundations of Ethics in Social Media beginning in ages 7-8. Establish the pros and cons of the use of media as well as the quality of source(s).
    • Mar 2 2013: I had never thought about teaching social media until this question arose. Having thought about it and reading differing opinions here, I feel as you do. Social media is here to stay. Corporations are beginning to use a person's Facebook account as a measure of hiring or not hiring a person. This will also have an effect on careers in law enforcement, at all levels, and a person's military career could also be in jeopardy.
      And, ethics in social media is definitely a must.
  • Feb 10 2013: I think this a great idea. It seems like it may be difficult because the children are often ahead of the adult when it comes to technology. For example, my younger brother and sister are more proficient at certain tasks on the computer than I am. So, I think it would be a challenge for parents to try to intervene on this issue since they might not know all the facets of social media and computer usage.

    With the help of an up-to-date curriculum, the problem of bullying could be mitigated and children would think twice before posting something inappropriate that could harm someone or themselves.
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    Feb 6 2013: Social media is now too bigger part of modern life not to be tought in school. I also believe schools should be teaching basic finance, like how tax and bank accounts work. + time management skills.
  • Feb 5 2013: I think in this day and age of technology all children should be taught the importance of internet security and how to safely navigate and post information on the internet. As part of a computer studies class, they should teach every aspect of the computer and internet beyond how to type and search for information. With social media being one of the largest growing trends in America, with kids of all ages engaging in these activities, I believe a portion of education should be devoted to social media issues.
  • Mar 3 2013: I agree with Katie that social media should be utilized as a tool with students. It is far more a part of their world, and they must be taught to think critically with the use of social media just like anything else. Social media and the internet pose issues in finding reliable material and how we interact socially. Many online assignments that are integrated in traditional classrooms require students to learn etiquette in dealing with each other's work that is often forgotten in the vicious anonymity of the internet. While I do not necessarily advocate a Social Media 101 style course, having the basics integrated through other assignments with clear content objectives is perfectly reasonable--and frankly it is becoming necessity.
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    Mar 2 2013: You only need to teach 2 rules..

    1. Never use your real name online
    2. Remember #1.

    I went through 50 pages of google results and I'm not there even once
    (and this isn't my real name either).
    ta-da!
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    Feb 23 2013: I have taught kids for some time now, and I know they love to follow trends. If Social Media becomes a tool to teach rather than a subject as you are suggesting, it will perform a lot better. Its the trends that need to be projected better. Like availability of learning tools and open class rooms need to reach children.
  • Feb 15 2013: I am an educator and firmly believe that in this era of digital technology our children should be well equipped with the tools that are offered by this medium. With the availability of digital content at the touch of a screen social media if used sensibly provides better collaborative learning and through a process of reflection enhances student learning. I have personally used social media as a tool to inculcate learning amongst my at school and have found it rewarding. Initially when introduced students need to be guided for it is like a new toy to them but soon their intrinsic curiosity as a learner is aroused. After the introduction of social media as a tool for learning, students have realized that social media if used wisely enables them to communicate more effectively with both teachers and peers.
    My research shows that students actually take to social media like a fish takes to water. Social media must be introduced to students in the first few years of secondary school and they must be made aware of the pros and cons for better understanding. Teachers may act as facilitators. However, it is the responsibility of parents to guide students and in order to do this they first need to educate themselves the power and benefits of social media.
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      Feb 15 2013: Well said Veena. I absolutely agree with you. In fact we had a discussion on Quib.ly on how to use social media as a tool and surprisingly we got some great ideas there: If you would like to see the discussion it's here: http://quib.ly/qu/should-schools-harness-social-media

      Agree with you on the point that social media is so easily available. Better teach them how to use it wisely than scold them later for something unpleasant they may end up doing online.

      I'd also love to invite you to join Quib.ly as I think as a savvy educator you may find it interesting.
    • Feb 28 2013: i agree with your statement
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    Feb 8 2013: Social media not only should be taught in schools, it needs to be taught in schools. Just as typing was considered an essential part of a school's technology curriculum, social media ought to be added to the list. As social media becomes a larger part of our lives, our students need to learn the best practices for a beneficial experience and personal safety. We shouldn't teach it all in fear, though. Many benefits can come from social media (networking connections, new information, creating a community, self-expression) and those should be emphasized, too.
    • Feb 23 2013: I completely agree, there are so many good things that come along with social media that aren't always highlighted.
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    Mar 4 2013: It is a very good idea. VERY
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    Mar 4 2013: This will should make you think about the future of schools (and jobs). http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud.html I was thoroughly impressed with the TED talk.
  • Mar 4 2013: For one, I highly doubt that future employers would take the immense amounts of time required to go through the vast extent of a potential employee's entire internet posting history. And secondly such anti-bullying efforts are already being implemented in a large number of schools, at least here in the US. I think you need to stop worrying so much about "big brother" and simply try your best to impart positive values and attitudes to your children.
  • Mar 3 2013: With the prevalence of social media, I think that it should be taught in schools. Younger people are using it more and more often, so it would be beneficial if they learned to utilize it as a tool. Educators can teach children how to use it efficiently and responsibly. Education should teach skills that are directly applicable to students when they are outside of the classroom, where there is constant change. Knowing how to use social media responsibly is a skill that can benefit students both professionally and personally.
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    Mar 1 2013: To answer your question DIRECTLY, No.

    To teach social media in schools would require to change the curriculum. Making things more advance to understand and cope with social media. It also depends on the grade level you are inquiring about. I would not support social media being taught in elementary school or middle school (basically k-8). Again, just to be clear, I wouldn’t support it at all. However, since I am not the powers that be, if it would to hit High School curriculum, high school student may be more prepped for college courses.

    Social media teaches individuals different personalities as if everyone involved in social media had DID (not that I am implying they do..Lol). So a course / class should be designed to teach students interested in psychology. Also anyone interested in research or sociology.

    Just my two sents…
  • Mar 1 2013: Like it or not, social media has become at major part of today's society. Children are the future of that society and simply closing our eyes to the widespead expansion of these tools (ie. Social media and networking sites) and not preparing children to engage and use it for the benefit of their education is shortsighted. We need to embrace technological advancements that greatly impact our day to day lives and ensure our children get the best from them. The comments I have read from this conversation so far call for education and social responsibility. I could hardly agree more and feel that for true enhancement of learning including the ability to collaborate and share ideas over distance social media must become a feature in todays education system.
  • Mar 1 2013: Schools could teach - children to use Discretion as we are in an age of information overload. Children could be taught how to select useful information; if children take in all information available they would be confused and hurt themselves.
  • Mar 1 2013: why not?Social Media is a very good technology to help people learning,sharing with each other.TED website is one of it.
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    Feb 28 2013: be amish if you wish and live in that pocket community. if your children are not taught technology they will be crippled in the world at hand. it's a choice each parent must make about public education in the first place. there is a great deal to be said for rooting a child more firmly in family before community. it is unfortunate to be born in dangerous times, but these are dangerous times for young minds..
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    Feb 28 2013: I don't think that it's a responsibility of school by any means.

    I think that each person should learn it and decide it by himself. If a man doesn't understand that we live in the era of wide spread social networks and that any person can observe any of his actions in social networks and that his actions can affect his life, then maybe he doesn't deserve to be hired?

    There is something we can do though. Any social network can create a pop-up upon registration that warns user about possible consequences of his actions. This would be much more reasonable.
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    • Feb 28 2013: Will an hour lesson have enough of an impact? I think parents and schools need to be a team in teaching kids the do and don'ts of internet use, especially social media. But we have to remember the technology divide as well. Many kids have parents who just aren't up to speed with technology. It takes a village.
  • Feb 28 2013: This will be The One, The Only, The Last (Knowing as "Revolution"), and, The Least Revolution.
  • Feb 27 2013: I don’t believe social media should be taught in school because children and especially young children do not fully understand the ramifications of posting comments, articles, pictures or videos on social media or on the internet. They don’t realize it can come back to bite you at the time or even in later years. It can also cause irreparable harm to other children if used incorrectly as in bullying other children. It can also cause legal harm to the child and to the parents of that child. There are some good aspects to allowing children to access social media but in my opinion the bad aspects outweigh the good.
    • Feb 28 2013: Really interesting answer, Laura. Because it could be argued that the aspects of social media use that you mention are all good reasons why social media *should* be covered in school! In other words, teenagers are using social networks in their millions (and pre-teens too) so they need to be taught, in your words, 'the ramifications of posting comments, articles, pictures or videos on social media or on the internet' also, echoing your words, the harm that can be caused if not used safely, what to do when bullying occurs, and the legal aspects. Really the question is whether social media should be taught in school, not whether kids should be allowed on social media (in many ways, that ship has sailed) and I think your answer highlights why it should.
      • Feb 28 2013: Holly, I could not agree more with you. By the way, if these same schools are using the internet, computers, technology, etc... in their curriculum then they should be responsible as a participant. As I stated to Chandra, the schools should teach Socially Responsible Media just the same as sex ed, driver's ed, health, etc...
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    Feb 27 2013: Social media, like all other things, must be used in moderation. I am a child of the Technology Era, and many, if not all, of my friends, peers, etc. use social media to communicate and express themselves. Schools have the responsibility of educating people in the ways of the world, and if schools are to continue this job, they must adapt to the changing times, at the same time preserving its core purpose. Students should have the ability to effectively use social media to further their lives/careers, but they should also understand that potential employers do look at social media profiles.
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    Feb 24 2013: Chanda, Teachers often better understand their students after they meet their parents. To try to correct a lifetime of bigotory, bullying, and hate that exists with some families in a class that would last one semester would be difficult if not impossiable.

    Most kids understand right from wrong ... the problem is not having consequences.

    Also I think that we need to understand the purpose of schools and the primary function. As of late we have come to expect schools to raise, feed, and nurture children. Schools provide a opportunity for learning. Staff can only expose students through this opportunity .... you cannot force them to learn or accept what is presented.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • Feb 23 2013: I think so. I'm a college journalism student in the US and oftentimes in class we reference how social media websites like twitter are shaping the field. Twitter especially is a great way to get news updates from the AP or CNN etc. not just info on what the celebrities are up to. Being able to use social media is a good skill to have especially when there are jobs specifically dedicated to managing media accounts. For example the city of Boston specifically employs someone to tweet, and make Facebook posts etc. about what's going on in the city. Learning social media in schools will probably have little impact on how students abuse the sites but it would make them more marketable. It would also help students to realize that whatever they put on the internet is there to stay and that schools they apply to, jobs they want etc. will be able to see it, they might conduct themselves differently. Either way, it's clear that social media is here to stay.
  • Feb 23 2013: Social media is a way of control AGEISM, SEXISM, PROFITIERING, AND MAKING ANY HARD WORKING PERSON OR THEIR CHILDREN conform to what the media want ie big media corps who degraded innocent youngsters in the Hillsborough disaster OR (massacre)
  • Feb 23 2013: I don'tknow about everyone else on this site but in this: supposedly democratic country of the U.K.we have to take the cuts that the Gov want and we can't say anything until they say but we are sick of having to work like idiots while they sit back and let us get scammed by all the money makers . Do not forget DD we should work for hard earnd cash