But Johnny is Allowed!

How many times have you heard this; “But, Mom! Johnny is allowed to do it!”

How many times has that conversation ended with you sounding like YOUR parent; “….because I said so, that’s why!”

Been there. Don’t that. Welcome to Parenthood. This is our Facebook Group.

When it comes to Social Media, this is a growing issue. Your position is no Social Media accounts until your child is at least 13-years-old, but Johnny’s/Jenny’s parents allowed their child to join Social Media platforms long before they entered their teenage years. So begins the inevitable argument as to why it is OK for your child’s friends to have the cool Social Media accounts and it is not OK for your child. Here are some discussion points that you can use to explain “why no Social Media for you”.

Because Facebook Said So.

“Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account (in some jurisdictions, this age limit may be higher). Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.” – Facebook Help Centre

Facebook is the Big Dog in the Social Media space and their Social Media policies are often the template for other Social Media platforms to follow. The age selection is not arbitrary and the reason is about as straightforward as you can get; it’s the law.

Back in 1998, the US federal government passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, as a means of protecting children that rapidly growing (but relatively new) thing called The Net. The Act is frequently updated since it was signed into law, including revisions that address the increased use of mobile devices (Smartphones, Tablets, etc) and social networking platforms like Facebook. For the most part, Social Media Apps developed and operated by companies that have market focuses in North America and Western Europe stick to the rule. Others can be a little more….uh…flexible.

What Do You Need It For?

This is the one that usually stumps the Tween or child. Johnny or Jenny has it, so I want it, too. No other reason is usually there to be a part of the argument. In fact, Johnny and Jenny may only be using it because “the other kids have it” or because it is “cool” to have it. There is no real purpose behind it. Children under the age of 10 still have much of their life dictated and planned for them, so it’s not a “Hey, whatcha up to? Wanna hang out?” thing. It’s not a Social or Event planner. It’s not a popularity platform (yet). So why do they “need” it?

It’s also a good challenge for their friends, the next time they are asked why they are not on Social Media, yet; “Why? What do I need it for?”.

Who Are Your Friends?

Social Media is about Social Networking. Meeting and engaging with people you know, meeting and starting to engage with people you don’t know. Whether it is personal or business-oriented, it is about people and conversation. Yes, there is a lot of mindless flotsam and jetsom in the various Social Media feeds, but even a “like” or a “follow” is the beginning of a relationship in some fashion. When it comes to kids of ANY age, it is important to know who their friends are. This is especially true of kids under the age of 13, who are much more easily led into spaces that you might not want them to be led into. This is why it is important to know their friends and their families

Ask your child who their friends are, if THEY have Social Media accounts and why it is that they (the child) feels that they need a Social Media account to connect and communicate with them.Why Does Johnny/Jenny’s Parent Allow

Why Does Johnny/Jenny’s Parent Allow Them on Social Media?

This is a great opportunity to open up a conversation about Social Media with the parents of your children’s friends. Not to admonish them for allowing their under-13 child to be on a Social Media platform, but to explain why you chose not to allow yours on a Social Media platform. You may find the indifference to be unsettling, or you may find that they (the parents) don’t fully grasp the potential pitfalls of Social Media platforms (and an opportunity to educate them in the conversation). Most important is that it is a dialogue that shifts the need to you to constantly reinforce the rule to one of sharing the responsibility with a fellow parent. When the parent of your child’s friend enforces the rule when your child is in their home, the rule has, even more, weight…..on BOTH children.

This is a great opportunity to open up a conversation about Social Media with the parents of your children’s friends. Not to admonish them for allowing their under-13 child to be on a Social Media platform, but to explain why you chose not to allow yours on a Social Media platform. You may find the indifference to be unsettling, or you may find that they (the parents) don’t fully grasp the potential pitfalls of Social Media platforms (and an opportunity to educate them in the conversation). Most important is that it is a dialogue that shifts the need to you to constantly reinforce the rule to one of sharing the responsibility with a fellow parent. When the parent of your child’s friend enforces the rule when your child is in their home, the rule has, even more, weight…..on BOTH children.

The “use of technology” question is one that is front and centre in most parents conversations with kids, these days. It is important to remember, however, that it is not always a case of being the “mean parent” when denying access to certain things that your kids want. In some cases, it is easier to SHOW them why, rather than to TELL them why…..because the answers to their question may come from them or another source.

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5 Social Media Do’s for Teachers

Social Media is an unavoidable reality in today’s world. Millennials and the “iGen” generation have grown up with the Internet and Social Media being an integral part of their lives. Learning to use Social Media platforms is, for all intents and purposes, no longer a ‘maybe’ decision. It is a must. Why? Because a student’s online life has an impact on how and what they learn. If a teacher knows nothing about that space they cannot guide a student through the good and bad content that influences their learning. As it is in the classroom, the best way to learn is to get hands on. Here are 5 things that teachers should do to become more “Social Media Friendly.

Create a LinkedIn Profile

Many still consider that LinkedIn is something you use to find employment or connect with business people. This is mostly true, but it is also a space that helps build professional reputations. For new teachers, it can potentially lead to getting a teaching position, but for established teachers, it offers a means for them to inform parents about the teacher that is educating their children in any given school year. Too often parents know very little about their teachers’ backgrounds and experience as a professional. LinkedIn can help change that. LinkedIn is also a place where teaching professionals can get together and share ideas and processes in teaching….without the distraction of cat pics and soup recipes.

Create Facebook Groups.

Within the Air Cadet Squadron I volunteer with, I created a Facebook group for the Cadets and another for the Parents of the Cadets. Why? Because there is information that you want to pass that is both universal and specific. Certain information is oriented to just the parents, for their knowledge and understanding. How a specific program can benefit their Cadet, information about upcoming sponsoring committee meetings and events. Copies of the forms that require reading and signatures…..because you know the one you handed out on parade night may not actually make it into the hands of the parent when the Cadet gets home.
For teachers, Facebook groups give an opportunity to deliver information and knowledge to both Students and Parents. For the students there can be information on assignments due, copies of study guides and practice exams uploaded, a reference to online resources for assignment research and a place for discussion about topics that are being taught in class. For the Parents, the FB Group can contain information about topics being covered, homework assignments being issued, classroom events and outings being planned, copies of instructions or waivers that need attention and information about what their students are learning throughout the school year. Even more useful is the opportunity for the teacher to share learning resources with the parents so that the parents can take an active role in helping their child with the things that they are being taught in school.
These Facebook Groups would be set up as “Secret” and by invitation only. Once the student and the parents are no longer in the class, they are removed from the group. It may sound like a bunch of extra work for an already overburdened teacher workload, but a teacher who does use these types of groups find that they become a highly useful tool in classroom participation.

Have a Daily Social Media Chat.

Every day, ask your students “what’s the coolest or most interesting thing you say online today?” With parameters laid out at the beginning of the discussion (keep it clean, nothing that is rude or embarrassing to or about others, etc.) give your students an opportunity to share what they have seen online. It not only opens a discussion about things that your students are interested in, it starts to build a relationship between student and teacher when it comes to the students “online life” where they will become more comfortable sharing things that do not understand or find concerning (such as inappropriate content shared by other students or cyber-bullying). It also offers the opportunity for discovery. It won’t be long before kids go beyond sharing the “coolest or most interesting thing they saw and start asking questions about the things they have seen (e.g. “This hurricane hit Barbuda. Where the heck is Barbuda?”).

Share an App or Website

If you spend any time on the Web or Social Media, you are bound to find an App or a Website that you think that kids might like or find useful. One of the goals of The Digital Hallway is to play a part in that discovery and sharing. If you find an App or Website that is interesting or useful, share it here……but look to share it in your classroom, too. Kids aren’t likely to jump to check out an App or Website that oriented around education, but there are a ton of Apps and Website out there that make learning fun and interesting (the Crash Course series on YouTube puts learning into consumable bites that are popular with kids). Sharing Apps and Web sites with your students is another method of engaging them in their digital space.

Become a Reminder

Remind is a private messaging App that enables Teachers, Parents, Students, and Administrators it communicates with each other. Text messaging is the fastest and easiest method of digital communication and is very popular amongst teens. Unlike the traditional platforms like WhatsApp or Kik, Remind is much more secure and more feature rich, with things like scheduling messages in advance or looking back on Message histories (which are never deleted). Like most messaging apps, these days, Images and Videos can also be attached, making it a great tool for sharing references or updating assignment information. The platform is primarily designed to increase parent-teacher communications. One study showed that this teacher-family communication increased homework to turn in by 42%. Check out the review of Remind back in 2013. It’s even more feature rich, today!

Social Media is not going away. If anything, it is advancing at a breakneck speed and if you don’t get onboard you are going to be left at the station wondering where the rest of the world has gone.

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