Clueing Into Social Media
by Katherine Robinson, Technology Integration Specialist, and Mary Brook-Townsend, Middle School Librarian
Typically, Middle School is a time of tremendous growth for our students. Changing schedules, teachers, expectations, and social circles are all common to this stage of life. Of equal importance is how social media plays a key role in our student’s communication with one another. Making sure they are respectful and responsible in their use of social media, as well as understand the positive and negative consequences of social media, plays a major role in our advisory program.
During the first quarter, each grade level participated in focused lessons and discussions centered on the acronym THINK. This acronym provides simple questions students can ask themselves before they post to social media, send a text message, or email. Additionally, the questions were used to jump start important conversations about oversharing, cyberbullying, and inappropriate content.
Our 6th grade class centered their lessons on the negative consequences of sharing inappropriate content online. Students discussed the idea that the Internet never forgets and the importance of being mindful of how their digital footprint impacts their reputation. Their second lesson focused on the roles students play in cyberbullying situations. Students were asked to read and discuss cyberbullying situations, identify the bully and the victim, and brainstorm ways in which the bystanders could have been upstanders and involved a trusted adult.
The 7th grade class focused their discussion on the idea that oversharing can have negative consequences on their social lives and reputations. Their conversation centered on the Common Sense Media video, Oversharing: Think Before You Post and how our state law enforcement agencies are currently responding to cyberbullying.
Eighth graders began their discussion by looking at the study, Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives. This study highlighted that one in five teens feel that social media made them more confident and that 52% of teens believed that social media had improved their friendships. Using this research, they discussed how poor decisions when posting online and the consequences surrounding those decisions could shift that perspective.