Research has shown that today young kids below the age of six are surfing the internet. The reason behind this can somewhere be attributed to the fact that parents pass on their mobiles to their young ones to play with or use it as a babysitting device. While the child is busy with the device, the parents can happily and conveniently carry on with their chores. In fact, if a research by Opinium is to be believed, 59% of the kids who are younger than 10 years old already are on some social media platform, with some 52% signing up on Facebook. Yeah, this despite the entry threshold being, 13. According to the Pew Research, 95% of the kids between 12 and 17 are online with 81% spending time on some kind of social media.
In the wake of such statistics and growing importance of the internet in our lives today, how should the school and parents handle the situation and use it to their benefit? Or should they discourage the use of such media in the classrooms? Let us look at some pros and cons of social media use for kids.
Pros of Social Media in Classroom
- Encourages Collaboration: There are many students in a classroom who are introverts by nature or who feel too shy to openly participate in a discussion or raise their hand even when they may know the answer. Through social media, such students can express their thoughts and build up their confidence. This may further encourage them to find their voice in the class and be able to participate more. They may also be willing to collaborate with other students on a class project or a group assignment.
- Share Online Resources: Internet is not just for online games and entertainment. When used for the right reasons, it can be a great source of gathering study material and even sharing it on useful websites like Twitter. If the teacher wants all the students to visit a particular link, they can tweet it and the entire class can then view it just by clicking on it. Or they can make a group on Facebook and share all useful posts on their timeline so students can stay updated.
- Helps to Stay Connected: Social media sites can also be put to another great use by teachers as they can post about the daily classroom activities, school events, or other projects or assignments in the future. Not just the kids, but the parents as well can stay up to date with the progress of their child and communicate with the teacher on a one-to-one basis. Gone would be the old days of having to wait for the next parent-teacher meeting to know how your child is faring in the classroom.
Now let us look at the flip side of using social media in the classroom
Cons of Social Media in Classroom
- Biggest Distraction: The most obvious threat of using social media in classrooms would be that an informative session could just as easily turn into mindless surfing on the internet. Students could easily get distracted and studies could take a backseat. If the teacher isn’t paying attention all the time, things could easily go out of hand. But it can get very difficult to monitor the activities of every child in the classroom, especially the notorious ones.
- Perils of Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is a menace that rears its ugly head to target small and innocent children. If social media is allowed in classrooms, there is a possibility that some students could use it to trouble and make things difficult for other students they don’t get along with. Social media websites can easily be used to write a mean or sarcastic comment about someone or share an inappropriate joke or posts to harass them. It is not rocket science to create a fake account and then use foul language to insult someone.
- Lesser Human Interaction: There may be a possibility that social media could replace the active one-on-one human interaction in a classroom. The students could get used to sharing everything and being up-to-date through posts on social media websites than by having actual conversations with their fellow classmates. This would impact their social skills and act as a deterrent in the long run.
Here’s What Can Be Done
There is no denying the fact that social media, when used in a right way, can be an immense help and learning tool for the kids in the classroom. But parents and teachers need to set some guidelines before they can incorporate this into the lives of the kids. Consider what you want your kids to learn and achieve and then set realistic parameters around their use.