While out for dinner the other night I overheard a discussion at the next table that bemoaned the use of social media in schools.
Person A: “There’s enough bullying in the world without giving kids access to another way to bully others in school.”
Person B: “All it’s going to do is distract kids and tempt them to cheat.”
And on and on it went. The same concerns that ranged from fears of cyber-bullying, to cheating, to distractions and it’s a waste of learning time. Hate break it to you, but we’ve unfortunately been dealing with these issues for years, long before the rise of social media.
As I drove home I reflected on the conversation. If I could have scooted into their booth, I would have asked them if they have kids who drive, or if they plan to let their kids drive when they’re old enough. I’m confident the answer to this question would be yes. Driving a car is a fundamental component of our daily lives. And it is fraught with hazards. We may cause an accident with our irresponsible behaviour, or be exposed to others who make driving dangerous for us even though we follow the laws of the road. But we are aware of the risks and as parents we make the decision to support our children as they learn the responsibilities and the rules of driving. Yes, we teach them. They take lessons, we guide them and prepare them. We teach them evasive manoeuvers to avoid accidents and we teach how to appropriately respond to the road ragers. For many of us, if we couldn’t drive we would feel isolated or as though we were missing something vital to our lives.
Social media for today’s youth is the same. It has its hazards and there are some who use it irresponsibly. Kids will be exposed to things we wish they weren’t but we can teach them to avoid that or respond appropriately. But it is up to us to teach them, prepare them and guide them. We need to feel as comfortable with our kids using social media as we do handing over the keys to the car. And we need to trust in our teachers that they can do so within the safety of the school much as parents do at home.
And do you remember how the world just seemed to open wide with possibilities when you learned to drive?