Today, yet again, I have heard people question if and why we should be using various pieces of technology and social media in school. It has been almost 40 years since personal computers were successfully marketed and sold to the general public. It has been over 20 years since the “world wide web” (www) was launched. It has been 10 years since the launch of Facebook and 7 years since the first iPhone was released. These things will continue to evolve in capabilities and how they are used – but they are not going away.
Besides the fact that we are supposed to be educating our children for tomorrow’s world, here are the reasons I can think of off the top of my head as to why social media is of importance in our schools (some of it relates to tech – but honestly, I think it’s a no-brainer as to why kids should be exposed to and using technology).
- Given the numbers above…these things are not going away. Our children will be using them whether we like it or not. Just as we role model proper table manners, or how to cross a street, we need to do the same for using technology and social media. That requires us to learn about them and use them ourselves.
- I don’t believe that any job that our children will hold in the future will be sans-tech or the need to work with others from around the world. (Again, we are educating for the future – so they should be exposed to technology and collaborating from the earliest of ages).
- The above ties into a global mindset, that we are part of something larger and all that we can learn a great deal from others outside of our “bubble”. This is hard for a child to grasp if they have never been exposed to anything/anyone outside their bubble.
- Empathy. Although we may speak a different language or wear different clothing, we are all human. Learning about how others live, what their struggles are as a culture and their customs, can help children be more empathetic to those different from them when trying to resolve issues later on.
- We are so concerned about test scores and how much learning needs to happen in a school year. These things extend the learning to anytime, anywhere. Empowering them to continue learning about a topic outside of the classroom, solely because it is of interest to them is worth its weight in gold.
- In addition to when learning occurs, it’s also how and from whom. I love that you can participate in a conversation on a blog, or tweet a statement or question to the world and receive responses from experts, authors, artists, and those who have been through or are currently going through the experience firsthand. How insanely powerful and exciting for a child (and adults) to get that opportunity that might not otherwise exist.
- Relationship building with not only families – but the community. Sharing, through a blog post or social media, moments from the day of kids learning is nothing less than fabulous. For parents and the community to have a window into the classroom and to be able to see the positive things our children and schools are doing, builds confidence and support. It reduces the number of reasons one can question efforts and spending when seen firsthand, the product and results. In addition, families can hold richer conversations at home about what their children have been learning because they aren’t dependent upon their child to remember moments of the 6+ hours prior. Instead, parents can ask about a particular lesson/moment. From there they can also tie in what they are doing during their family time, with the lessons at school. I know I have chosen a particular museum exhibit and what we have done while on a walk at the park because of what my children’s teachers shared from the classroom.
- Not only can immediate family members support the learning outside of the classroom – but putting it out there online enables family members near AND far to follow along and support the child’s learning.
- It brings the “great” things to life. A teacher can tell you all they want on back to school night that they have some great lessons, projects and/or activities planned for the year. But the definition for great may vary for some. And something the teacher thinks is great, may be over the moon to say a parent that never experienced anything like that themselves growing up. Why would you shortchange your efforts? Let others see the opportunities you are giving these children.
- It is a way for busy families to keep up with what is happening while on the go, without having to depend on if a paper makes it home, if they have the info from the paper with them while out and regardless of if they are physically able to visit the school..
- It helps maintain a regular, open line of communication in between those face to face moments. Instead of speaking once every few months – it could be weekly. That can drastically change a relationship.
- And the other question I heard….but how many people are actually following and using? I think that grows over time. Our newer parents use the social media to communicate far more than the ones who went through 5 years without it at first, I believe because they don’t know any different. But many of the other families are, if nothing else, using it a resource for information. The more you use it for good and for sharing valuable resources though, I think the more your community will begin to use it to interact with you. But if you never start, or only give it a few months, you will never have these opportunities. And although I think it benefits the adults; if we don’t expose our children to this world of technology and social media now, they will be the ones suffering the most down the road.
So as a parent, I beg of you not to short change our children or limit the opportunities to engage more families and the community. I understand you may be unfamiliar with it – but ignorance will benefit no one. I will do my part at home, I ask that you do yours at school.