The 30th June is Social Media day, a day to recognise and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication. I have two teenage sons, who were both desperate to join Facebook on their 13th birthday. They saw it as a right of passage and signed up as soon as it was legal for them to do so. They are now 18 and 15 respectively, and neither of them have posted anything or even looked at Facebook for a couple of years.
I asked them why this is, and they told me “Facebook is full of Mums” and “None of our friends use it”. It appears that Facebook is no longer cool for their generation and it is seen as a social media platform for older people and businesses.
Facebook is still ranked as the most popular social media platform used today, and as of April 2019 it has 2.3 billion active users worldwide. YouTube, the second largest platform only has 1.9 billion active users. However, the age groups of those that are using Facebook, shows it has lost popularity with school aged children.
Talking to my kids, one prefers to use Snapchat and the other likes Instagram. I asked about WhatsApp and both said they have friends who use it but they don’t. It seems that within the teenage generation there is a lot of variance between the social media platforms they use, but they both agree Facebook is not something they bother with or anyone they know still uses.
Why then, do I constantly see e-safety lessons aimed at secondary school children that only talk about Facebook? As teachers we need to keep up with the times and if we want to teach our students about how to keep safe on-line, there is no point referring to a platform most of the class see as obsolete. We need to make it relevant if we want the message to hit home so must take the plunge to learn about these alternative platforms, many teachers are unfamiliar with.
I, personally, don’t use Snapchat and only very rarely post on Instagram and my WhatsApp groups are family and close friends who tend to use Facebook Messenger anyway. That said, if I want to create a lesson that appeals to a year 9 class I can’t get away with using Facebook as a reference point anymore.
Talk to your classes, find out what they use and then create lessons tailored to them. The rules are basically the same for staying safe online:
Don’t post any personal information on-line
Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself.
Keep your privacy settings as high as possible
Keep your location private
Don’t meet up with people you’ve met on-line
Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are
If you see something on-line that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, leave the website and report it immediately.
We just need to alter the social media platform we are talking about and use images relevant to what they are currently using.
Here are some links that explain how to alter the privacy settings on some of the most common social media accounts:
The next time you are planning an e-safety lesson refer to the social media your pupils are actually using, so the message resonates with them and helps pupils stay safe.