Proposal

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Media is an instrument of communication. Social media networks are tools which foster interaction, discussions, building personal relationships, as well as for educational and learning purposes. Using social media is one of the most common activities of children ranging in ages 9-17 years-old. According to Bob Sullivan, Columnist for NBC News, “… more than 5 million U.S. children under [age] ten use Facebook”(Sullivan).

Our young generation may appear to be very comfortable using social media, yet they lack the understanding of potential harm to themselves and others through these web sites.  With this in mind teaching students how to appropriately use social media is not only a good idea, it now becomes the school’s responsibility.  Social media skills  should be offered in schools to teach students safety of sharing personal information, usage of appropriate language and positive communication skills, and online tools for educational advancements.

As parents we teach our children not to talk to strangers, yet that is exactly what they are doing on-line through web sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. According to the Cheryl Corner, Author for Forbes.com, “People share far too much information online”(Cheryl).  On-line social networks are fun and provide lots of entertainment, but they also present a major security concern for the users. “Due to my child sharing too much information online, we were victims of identity theft,” says Rachael Wilson (interview). Online social networks such as Facebook and MySpace are websites that allow young children to build connections and relationships with other internet users. However, as the popularity of these sites grow so does its harmful risks. Many other people besides friends and family have access to these social networks, such as identity thieves, stalkers and other criminals. A young teen, Ashleigh Hall told her mother she was having a sleep over at her friends, where in fact she was meeting a stranger whom she met on the internet posing as a teenage boy. “Within hours she had been kidnapped, raped and killed…Sex offender…” (The Telegraph ¶2). We teach our children not to take candy from strangers, yet we hand them I-phones and android devices and give these same strangers unsupervised access to our most prized possession, our children . Sharing too much information is problematic in many ways but first and foremost personal safety. Most internet users mistakenly believe their page will have some level of privacy— internet safety classes in our schools can teach students to use their one-line profile as a free place to promote themselves professionally and academically, and protect them from falling victims to identity theft, kidnaping and sexual assault.

Although social media has its positive merits for building strong friendships, by the same token, its heavy usage has some negative merits such cyberbullying_victimization_meta_chartbas bullying, sexting, gossips, and treats. According to Dr. Allred, a principle of a middle school, “our biggest concern… [is that] students post material on the sites that harms other students, or provide indications of hate groups and drug use or sales”(Interview). This is a growing concern in our youth society, where they use social media channels to hurt, and believe that they can get away with this behavior, because it is not against the law. “Using Facebook or MySpace to bully people, to send inappropriate pictures is against the law,” says officer Finlayson.  According to Katu2 investigator, Anna Canzano, “disturbing messages and online postings on two popular websites—Facebook and Instagram—preceded the death of Anna Ishikawa … and Isabelle Sarkinen (13-years-old)…”(Canazono). Cyber bullying is a continuously growing concern. These two beautiful girls were cyber bullied to a point where they did not see a way out except to take their own lives.

Two beautiful young girls have lost their lives, because our young generation does not realize the horrifying ramifications of their inappropriate behavior and language that is used on these social websites. If students in schools are taught some social etiquette, how to use proper language and positive communication skills while using social media channels, and to understand they need to think before they post simply because “You cannot take it back” once you publish something, or even to teach students how to deal with cyber bulling or harmful texting’s, we could prevent tragedies, and save the self-respect or even the lives of these beautiful young souls.

Although students use social media for their personal use, they should be thought how to use the same tools for their educational enhancement. In our schools students can be taught to show case their research and to connect with others of same interest, using Google and other social network tools to create study groups. Social media can help students to problem solve and think outside the box, and even connect with other logo_smbiz-smstudents and their instructors for help on assignments. Karen Bunnel, language arts teacher at a local high school says “I use twitter to remind my students of upcoming assignments or tests” (interview). Students are on these social media sites and teachers are taking advantage of this opportunity to remind them of assignments due. Jackie Burr, a high school educator, says “The score for turning in assignments and test score have drastically changed due to reminding my students of their work through social media networks” (interview). Giving children those little reminders of their educational focus, using their own tool seems to be a great source.

While the use of social media is an integral part of our daily lives our young adolescents, this proceeds comes with number of risks such as  problematic violation of privacy, negative psychological effects, cyber bulling, and dangers of sexual solicitation. Just as we need to educate students on topics such as math, English, and science I believe that school educators should take the time to teach appropriate usage of social media channels. Schools educators can revise their lesson plans to accommodate teaching their students about how to be safe and how to use all different social networks appropriately.

The problems this new way of online communication creates are not going away and will continuously grow. Parents and educators must get off the sidelines and get involved! Parents have the responsibility to protect their children and be aware of what is going on in the online world, yet they cannot do this alone.  Just like anything else in our children’s life—when there is a potential of harm— it is imperative to take action to keep them safe. To effectively reinforce the positive usage of cyber space, our youth needs strong adult supervision and guidance.  According to Nancy Mandenhall, a psychologist and a therapist specialized in teenagers, “We need to have internet parental strategies, where parents can teach the children what sites are safe, as well as teaching the youth what is respectful to post or say while on Facebook, Instagram and so on”(Interview).  Mandenhall also voices her opinion that children should be limited in usage of internet at home or school. We should unite together as parents and educators to insure the safety of future generation.

Work Cited:

Canzano, Anna. “Past the Tipping Point: A KATU Investigation into teen suicide.” KATU Channel Two. Broadcast Interactive Media, 1 2 2013. Web. 28 Apr 2013.

Corner, Cheryl. “Sharing too Much? It will cost you”.” Forbes Daily News. Forbes, 19 10 2012. Web. 28 Apr 2013.

Dr. Allred, Interview

Officer Finlayson, Interview

Rachael Willson, Interview

Stokes, Paul. “Ashleigh Hall: ‘one mistake’ cost teenager her life.” Telegraph. (2013): n. page. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

Sullivan, Bob. “Should 10-year olds use Facebook.” NBCNews. NBC News, 7 Jun 2011. Web. 28 Apr 2013.

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