Students' social media activism provides expanded learning opportunities
- Long derided as a distraction, social media is now being used to students' advantage as they organize protests in the wake of events like the Parkland, FL, school shooting, eSchool News reports.
- Students have also used social media to raise awareness among their peers about the power of derogatory words with campaigns like #DontSayWW at Massachusetts' Westwood High School, as well as to find student volunteers for summer camps.
- Jeffrey Knutson, a senior producer and content strategist at Common Sense Education recommends that educators incorporate lessons on effective and ethical social media use into material on digital citizenship, media literacy, and social-emotional learning skills.
While it's easy to see students' use of social media as largely frivolous and recreational, many are becoming more active as a result of socio-political issues ranging from school violence to climate change. For educators, this opens even more doors for a variety of learning opportunities around civic engagement, ethical interactions online, and even how to market an event or fine-tune a message.
Today's students will be tomorrow's leaders, and equipping them with the knowledge to use all of the tools at their disposal — and to adapt to and make full use of those that don't exist yet — is critical to helping them build a better future. Rather than discouraging their passions for these issues or their use of technology to make their voices heard, administrators should ensure that resources are in place for educators to incorporate them into appropriate sections of curriculum, and to make sure students understand that simply sharing a hashtag or changing a profile picture isn't always enough to effect the change you want to see in the world.
As student Suraya Buffong writes for The Hechinger Report, "Many generations of youth have fought for what they believe in. This generation can do the same. Our voices can and will be heard, but it is up to us to put ourselves out there and support one another."
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