dangers of social media
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We need social media for schools

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools looked for any way possible to maintain contact with students, families, and the community.

Resilience, Reorientation, and Reinvention: School Leadership During the Early Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2021.637075/full

Leaders who may not have been keen on social media before were scrambling. They would use any and all means to stay connected with students.

Of course, working from home is not the same as working from school. Even for students who have internet access at home, it’s often not as reliable or as fast as what they can get at school.

Our public schools have at least 1Gbps upload/download fiber connections here in Kentucky, better than pretty much anything available to homes.

Also, knowing that as the pandemic began around 15% of students in the US did not have reliable high-speed internet access at home and 17% of teens indicated they did not have the resources to complete schoolwork at home (the “homework gap”), just connecting to students would be an issue.

Still, schools leveraged what they could.

I wish I could say that all schools use social media well but we’re still very much on the learning curve of these technologies. As with most other things in education, someone has to manage a program for social media.

Often, this falls to the school library media specialist or a technology teacher. And just as often, these folks have little experience with crafting a media message or dealing with comments from the public on social platforms.

If we want our schools to use social media, we have to find a way to fund having a person that takes care of that content.

Yes, your school needs a PR person. Of course, this person should likely also have interns (students) who want to learn the ins and outs of modern communications and PR.

It’s something to think about as we move forward post-pandemic.

We don’t need social media for schools

On the other hand, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch for anyone to admit that social media is not always the best tool to introduce to students, especially when we don’t talk about digital citizenship in schools.

The role of social media in spreading panic among primary and secondary school students during the COVID-19 pandemic:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405844020326505

Due to the nature of most posts on social, our attention span is shortening. We don’t deep-dive into subjects any longer, we just want to swipe and get the next hit of dopamine.

https://medium.com/@profgalloway/the-attention-economy-is-making-us-stupid-86461c0baa05

With TikTok challenges wreaking havoc in schools as students returned to in-person learning, school administrators are likely to look for ways to avoid social media and block school access.

https://www.asralertsystems.com/blog/tiktok-challenges-school-safety

Of course, blocking access leads to other issues. When schools move past blocking access to the most egregious sites on the web, they can get into the tangle of “I need you to block this site/app because my students are distracted” requests from teachers at every level.

Historically, blocking access doesn’t achieve much.

Where can we focus our efforts in schools to avoid the trap of blocking socials and multiple other sites that are annoying to everyone but students?

Digital Citizenship

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