Is Social Media in the Classroom a Necessity or Distraction?

Students using social media in he classroom

Students using social media in he classroomI recently had a telling experience while sitting at a friend’s dinner table. The mother asked her son how his class was today. He answered, “It got deleted”. Let’s be honest. Unless you are living under a rock, most of us are not only reliant on our computers for daily functioning but are also involved with social media in one form or another. In this digital era, our youngsters may no longer know the difference between something getting cancelled and something getting deleted.


Though I have no doubt that by the time our elementary school students graduate high school there will be many more “new and improved” digital social outlets, social media today is more than just a way to connect to friends. It has evolved into a serious tool used for education and business as well. As many of our young people are practically born with a Smartphone in hand, is bringing social media into the classroom a necessity or a distraction?


There are pros and cons on both sides of the discussion. Some feel that social media is here to stay. Therefore, teaching students the significance of having a digital footprint developed over a lifetime might save future embarrassment or worse. Social media in the classroom can be a tool for encouraging shyer students to participate is discussions without forcing them to raise their hands. Additionally, there are teachers who feel that social media can make an unattractive topic more exciting.


On the other hand, I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I find it not only sad but also frustrating and even insulting to be in a social setting only to find that most of the people around are focusing on their Smartphone rather than the activity or discussion at hand. I believe that few today feel truly listened to. What ever happened to looking a person in the eye to show engagement?


Those who argue against social media in the classroom use the same shy student example as proof that this will only increase the person’s challenges. How will the shy person be able to interview or have a voice when they have never developed it in a relatively safe environment like the classroom? We all know that cyber-bullying is a serious issue which, in my opinion, should be addressed whether social media is or is not used in the classroom. And, if we thought that ADHD was increasing before, well, take one look at a person addicted to social media and you will be wondering when was the last time he took his Ritalin-even if he doesn’t!


Like most things, I believe there is a happy balance between the inevitable of using social media in the classroom and assuring that our students have real-life people skills, can form a proper verbal statement and are able to socialize interpersonally by looking directly at people. We can incorporate specific, limited times in our school day for social media activities and keep the rest, well, actually social. Let’s face it. Most of our students have plenty of social media time outside of the classroom. It’s real socialization that is lacking.


What do you think? How have you successfully incorporated social media or socialization in your classroom?


4 Responses to Is Social Media in the Classroom a Necessity or Distraction?

  1. kafkateach says:

    This was a pretty well balanced article about social media in the classroom. This year all of my students were given tablet computers and our classrooms have been equipped with wi-fi. I love using social media in the classroom! The kids are on it all day already, so we might as well incorporate it as part of a lesson. Our district uses a secure social media platform called “My Big Campus.” It connects all teachers and students within the county and is monitored for the nasty side of social media (cursing, bullying…). Think of it as a safe academic Facebook. I also fear people always looking at their phones instead of the people standing in front of them, so I have arranged my desks so students are looking at each other in small groups. They can work socially while using social media.

    • Tsivya Fox says:

      Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with social media in the classroom. It sounds like you have taken the inevitable and made it work in the classroom.

  2. Kevin Zanner says:

    One of the more important elements of digital citizenship is health and wellness. Staring at glowing boxes too long isn’t good for anyone, but it is certainly harmful to children. I think more than an hour or two a day is enough on glowing boxes. My high school classes are more productive when we have a healthy balance of paper and screens.

    We actually practice microblogging on a tack wall in the back of the room and collaborative writing on magnetic whiteboards that are a little smaller than the desktop (the actual desk, not the computer).

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