Kids Online

Cyberbullying, online harassment, or simply being inappropriate on the internet: for my students, these are becoming increasingly commonplace. I’m worried.

I want to think about what I need to do better, as a teacher and a coach. So here’s a list of the ways I’m failing my students:

  • I am not modelling appropriate behaviour on social media for them to observe
  • I am not directly instructing them about data retention policies, legalities, and (lack of) privacy
  • I am not teaching them how to deal with peer pressure online
  • I am not training them to be empathetic
  • I am not supervising, or even keeping an eye out for trouble, when they are outside my classroom
  • Since they don’t, I assume I have not made my students feel they can come to me if they are having trouble
  • I am not engaging in, or sustaining, a dialogue with the students’ parents about their engagement in social media

My school could do more to red-flag inappropriate behaviour in our Google Apps set-up. Most parents should probably be doing a lot more to monitor what is going on with their students. Yet, clearly, I feel that part of the failure is my own.

Here’s what I know about the best teachers: when they fail, they come back the next day with a new, better idea. In that spirit, here’s my plan:

  1. Work empathy-building activities into the classroom (for my middle school students), and work empathy-building into our learning activities (for my high school students, where time is a precious commodity). In addition, I will try to think of all-school activities that could help to build empathy between students who normally don’t interact.
  2. Start accepting friend requests on Facebook, returning follows on Twitter, and so forth; try to engage in a positive way with my students on social media; and keep an eye out for dark corners (I made this argument last year).
  3. For the students I advise, prepare some lessons about responsible online citizenship, and share them with my colleagues if there is interest.
  4. From there, once I know more, try to contact parents as appropriate to cheerlead, support, and inform.

It’s time to go connect with some of my students.

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One thought on “Kids Online

  1. The Brain in the Jar

    You do not want your parents monitoring their child’s behavior too much. Children, in order to grow up need to learn to live in their own society. They need to learn to build their own world and how to run it. Helicopter parenting is such encouraging suicide.

    People can hurt you. Loneliness will hurt you always.

    What you need to do is create a more social environment. The army had far less cases of bullying than school – nearly zero. That’s because in the military everyone is a part of the group. Schools are individualistic and antisocial. Your child’s value is determined by how good he is at math. Psychological health, social skills – who cares? Just be good at math.

    Why parents never spoke up against this isn’t a mystery. If your kid only solves math exercises all day alone in his room then it’s less trouble for the parent.

    Reply

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