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Is Social Media in the Classroom a Necessity or Distraction?

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I 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?

 

 

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