Can Social Media be Educational?

23 Aug

I don’t believe that technology is inherently good or evil.  It’s a neutral tool that people use for good and evil.  And because of that, and because I don’t think social media tools are going anywhere, I think our children deserve to be educated about it.

Education is powerful.  Learning how to utilize social media, how to enjoy it without being ruled by it, when it’s inappropriate, is important.  Parents and teachers need to work together to determine when and how much is appropriate.

Google+
Because of the “circle technology” moving people into circles based on hobbies and interests, this is a great tool for teaching kids about writing for an audience. How would you convey the same message to different people with different interests?

Facebook  + Email
Because of the combination of words and pictures, it can be a great tool for teaching about cultural, ethnic and geographic differences.  Turn off many of the functionality of Facebook but let them have virtual pen pals (maybe children of your friends) where they can receive letters, notes and photos much more quickly than snail mail.

Twitter
This teaches children to convey messages succinctly.  To structure a thought or an argument in 140 characters or less.  It can help them boil down a thesis.  It can teach them when words are extraneous to a message.

Because of the many consumers on Twitter, it is also a very simple way to engage with companies.  Often, a product complaint noted on Twitter will be followed up by a company. They will require additional information. Your child can craft the Twitter complaint or appeal, then follow up with a longer email containing the relevant details.

Review Sites
Teach kids how to look for pros and cons about something they’re passionate about – a movie, a restaurant, a vacation.  Teach them how to be professional and honest in their writing.  How to view their negatives and positives through the eyes of other consumers.  Let them read negative reviews about a book they loved and have them them write a rebuttal.  If its good, post it.

Social media is fast.  There is a much quicker turn around than writing a letter to a congressman.  But for kids, the nearly instant gratification can spur them on to write more, to argue more, to think more.  If they are passionate about something, it enables them to learn from and engage with those who are also passionate about the same topic.

When used wisely and in moderation, it can lead to engaged consumers and more articulate writers.

 

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