A few weeks ago I was privileged to be invited to Woodroffe High School to talk to the students there about using social media responsibly. I spend a good deal of time talking to people of all ages about social media, and for me, the opportunity to spend a few hours with high school students was at once exciting and terrifying. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been in a high school auditorium, particularly standing at the front of it. As the principal introduced me and I took the stage, I flashed back to my days playing alto sax in Jazz Band – only this time my solo was of a slightly different nature.
As grownups, we are often quite fearful of letting younger people use social media. Heck, we’re often fearful of it ourselves! We are still trying to figure out why that person is “following” us on Twitter while the average teenager Facebooks circles around us. Our fear often leads us to spend more time telling young people what not to do, and blocking their access to things, rather than teaching them how to communicate safely online.
We talked about the ideal privacy settings for Facebook, and what kinds of things are good to share (like fun things happening in your life, links to cool stuff, photos of your pets) and what aren’t so great (airing grievances, talking bad about others, your questionable behaviour at last weekend’s party). We even touched on cyber bullying (what to do if you’re being bullied or witness someone else being bullied).
But much as I wanted to make the students aware of the potential risks of sharing anything and everything on Facebook though, I also wanted to give them some ideas. So we talked about how much fun it is to share cool stuff online. We also discussed ways that they can use the web as a creative outlet, to show the world their writing, photos, music, or videos. And we also looked at how social media can be used for studying, research, and to scope out colleges and universities.
I had a great time, and based on some of the students who came up to me afterwards, the message got through to at least some of them! I even got this little write up in the Ottawa West EMC paper.
But I really want to hear from you. Do you know any remarkable teens who are making the most of social media? I’d love to hear their stories in the comments.
Photo by gumdropgas