Many schools have banned the use of social media in their respective schools and district. But the reality stays the same that social media will be here and will remain for centuries to come and with that we should be preparing our students to be digital leaders. The world of social media is a reality most educators are aware of but seemingly do not know how to maximize it thus limiting the potential of social media to be an instrument for change.
Schools banning social media in their respective campuses might be losing the opportunity to teach students on how to properly use social media. There are negative consequences in social media and we are all aware of what people can do in social media. Cyberbullying is a big issue as well as privacy of data on the internet world. But could it be that students are using social media in a wrong way because nobody has ever taught and modeled them how to use social media for better? In a way that may improve someone else’s life and even contributing things that might improve the condition of the world when maximizing social media.
Social media are not only meant for socializing but can be great tools for educators to teach students the skills they needed in life. We could teach our students become digital leaders not just merely digital citizens of the digital world. A digital leader is someone who uses social media for a cause. A digital leader uses social media to help improve the lives of others and of the world. It could be a responsible use of social media but it is more of being responsible. It requires change, improvement, contribution for a better world. It could be putting up a social media account and use it to empower or inspire others. It could be a cause you want others to be aware of and want change to happen. It could be using social media to bring up to authorities a concern that might have been neglected for so long.
We don’t expect learners of today to be digital leaders if our educators are not digital leaders themselves. Educators should model the how to and teach the why of becoming digital leaders. Educators can make professional social media accounts for a start. Social media are not place for gossips and useless things but could be tools that can be used to achieve a much greater end. Educators could have a digital portfolio so that may be accustomed to the online world. Social media is a great connector and provider of information when used properly. You can connect to the greatest minds out there. You may research for the best innovation and ideas that past and present world offers. There are a lot of things that can be done. Educators must be aware as well of what they post online. You students might be watching you. Remember to model digital leadership.
There are also dangers in social media and we cannot deny that. But the world is not free from the danger as well. We teach our learners how to protect themselves and use the skills they have learned so that they may know how live on their own and navigate the world. We teach them skills we think they need now and in the future. We let them see the reality that life is not only bed of roses but also have thorns. We teach them value of honesty, compassion, social justice and so much others. Just as we teach them the skills for real life, we should also teach them the skills of becoming the digital leaders so that when they are in social media, they may know how to use them well. We teach them what application is safe to use or not. What features can be used in times when something not so good happen. We can teach how to use social media in a different way. That cyberbullying is something they can stand up to. That instead of being part of the problem, they could be part of the solution. They are many young learners out there who use social media for greater cause. Imagine where social media could be a safer place because we have so much digital leaders out there doing the right thing.
It is a risk to use social media in schools but it is a reality that it will stay, so we might as well do something about it and not just block social media in our school campuses and pretend that students don’t have access to them. Let us use them so that we might give learners the needed skills in maximizing social media for better.
I encourage you to read the book Social LEADia by Jennifer Casa-Todd to learn more about digital leadership. There is so much to share about it.