Social Media: When Schools and Parents Partner Kids Win

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We live in a hyper-connected world. Opportunities to communicate, collaborate and create using technology and social media are ubiquitous. Chances are…if you are unfamiliar with the apps Instagram or KIK your child has heard of them…or will soon enough. Truth-be-told, these apps are one way our children choose, or will choose, to communicate.

Some parents may not be aware of the minimum age requirements that Instagram, Facebook and other online apps have in place. Adhering to these requirements will allow your child additional time to learn important internet safety and etiquette at home and school before they interact more independently in these virtual environments. However, waiting until your child is of “Facebook age” to influence their digital citizenship (manners, safety, etc.) is too late. Schools are providing students controlled environments to practice virtual collaboration using tools like Google Drive right now, and this is a very positive thing!

With all of these expanded opportunities to communicate in and outside of school comes the reality that children will use these tools to explore who they are and who their friends are. Sometimes this means that online interactions and texting may become terse, emotional or inappropriate; just like when two people communicate in person. Other times this means that online conversations will be silly, lighthearted and very much appropriate; just like when students communicate in person. And just as I need to teach my own kids to use manners when speaking, I will also need to reinforce internet safety and etiquette with my young children now.

Student conversations and social plans that previously played-out in backyards and schoolyards are now being broadcast to the public at amazing speed (4G to be precise). This means that schools and parents need to be nimble and proactive in addressing these tools with children.

While our visceral response may be to recoil and prohibit all technology until our children are 18 years old (or 33….), a “teaching approach” with supervision and feedback will yield better results. If left to their own devices (literally and figuratively) students will fill in the blanks with their own cyber etiquette and form lasting habits.

This is precisely why our technology curriculum includes lessons on digital citizenship and web ethics. It’s also why we need to continue the conversation and partner together to support student learning in the area of online communication and collaboration.

Please view the web resources below to educate yourself, and keep an eye out for parent seminars being offered at our school this winter (more info to come):

Click HERE for a comprehensive and user-friendly web resource created by Wayzata Public Schools.

Click HERE for cyber-bullying and digital citizenship tips from Dr. David Walsh.

Commit to monitoring your elementary child’s communications (electronic, social media and face-to-face interactions) and provide age-appropriate guidelines, expectations to promote balance and feedback.

The investment we make together now will pay dividends as students become more independent and as technology continues to evolve.

Originally posted November 15, 2012

About Dr. Brad Gustafson

I am an elementary principal and author in Minnesota. You can connect with me at or on Twitter via @GustafsonBrad

Posted on July 9, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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