Unsocial Social Media!

The recent publicity about how schools deal with private property, mobile phones and the bullying around it, highlights a growing problem. As virtually every student in a secondary school is likely to have at least one mobile phone the government’s solution of giving teacher’s permission to remove them seems to miss a point.
Yes, having pupils fiddling with their phones rather than listening intently to the lesson is going to be annoying. (Perhaps there should be some reflection on the content of the lesson but…!) However, it is not the item itself; it is how and when it is used that is the issue. Surely there are excellent teaching points to be taken advantage of here? Social media is here to stay and it is for schools to find their way through it. Trying to ban mobiles even if you can now physically remove them is like trying to hold a dam with your hands!
At my school we have seen an increase in the amount of bullying and also in the type of nastiness via Face Book and emails. (Interestingly twitter does not seem to be favoured among the 13 – 16 age group) The major problem schools face is not with what happens during school time. Fights and squabbles in the playground or even inside school can be seen and are often caught on the many CCTV cameras that are now in our schools.
No the problem is outside in the big wide world beyond the influence of school and it is invisible. The internet has created a communication mechanism that was never available before when you had to rely on using the telephone down at the end of the road. It is also so immediate and can gather momentum with frightening speed.
Tackling this phenomenon will not succeed by removing the machines. We have only to look at the industrial revolution and the luddites to see how successful that approach can be. What is needed is some time spent looking at the effects of inappropriate use and exploring the purposes of social media and the etiquette that surrounds it. It should form part of the pastoral curriculum as well as the technical side of ICT.
What is not needed is for young people to be told ‘No you can’t’ when clearly they CAN and WILL!

How is your school dealing with the influence of Face Book and other social media sites? Do you agree with teachers having the power of removal when it comes to mobile phones?

Image ‘Cyber Bullies’ from Scott Mcleod see original here

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  • HorwichHead

    I’m a primary head, but we do have children as young as Y4 who bring mobile phones to school. We’re not using them in the curriculum though. Children are expected to hand them in switched off at the beginning of the day, and collect them at the end. That way, parents can communicate with them before and after school (I suspect many of our Y6 go home to an empty house or with older siblings), but we say if they need to contact them during school, they must use our school phone line.
    I wonder if secondary schools (and primaries in time) should specify which phone students should get, in the same way they specify the uniform items and suppliers. There could be a range available, so that 1000 students don’t all own identical phones, but I think it would reduce theft which must inevitably go on if pupils have the latest expensive model, and others would like a quick way to acquire one. Specifying phones as an equipment requirement would put them in the same sphere as calculators, i.e. essential kit for learning. Common models of phones could also mean they could be used in lessons using a variety of their functions, and even charged up together!
    Class blogging and VLEs provide an e-safe introduction to social networking, but we all know that Facebook has no mechanism for ensuring all their users are over 13 (we have many children even as young as KS1 on Facebook). I think it’s up to the social networks to create e-safe separate platforms which will appeal to the under 11s and the under 14s respectively. (They could link in to the next level automatically on the owner’s 11th or 14th birthday). Then we could use Facebook as a teaching and learning tool maybe.

  • ICT_Integrator

    I hope you don’t mind, but I have put a link to your post on my blog, as it fits in really well with a recent post of mine. You’re welcome to take a look: http://bit.ly/fVFxVv
    Karen Stadler

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