The Social Media Revolution? Does it belong in the Classroom?


In this massive information age of today, we can now talk to each other in ways we never imagined. Teachers and administrators have struggled with how they might try to find a way to safely incorporate this social media technology in the classroom. Schools and teachers are concerned with how students might open up classrooms to issues which will upset parents, may increase spending inappropriately on social media applications, as well as draw potentially negative attention from the public and/or community. So that is why many schools tend ire toward more conservative approaches in the use of Social Media in classrooms. They say it is to protect kids. So how should Social Media be used in a Classroom?

In the following video, we have John Costilla a Social Media expert discussing “What prevents the use of social media in the classroom?”

A 2010 study by the Kaiser Foundation found that the average child or teenager in the United States spends more than 7 hours per day interacting with various types of media including television, Internet sites, social media applications, video games and others. There is no escaping the fact that we live in a digital world, and kids need guidance navigating it.

Experts like John Costilla, agree that the fear is there, but that isn’t going to change the fact social media and other communications technology are here to stay in the world around us.

Media at Home

Digital media impacts all aspects of home life from the way children study to how they communicate with each other and with family members to how they entertain themselves. This fact has left many parents concerned. Though some studies link excessive media use in children to issues like obesity, behavioral problems, aggression, sleep disturbances, academic difficulties and others, however, neither the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) nor watchdog group Common Sense Media advocates preventing children older than two from accessing digital media altogether. This is because while new technology presents risks, it also has many potential benefits including exposure to new ideas, access to unlimited information, the ability to communicate with far-flung family members and the ability to develop new skills in an interactive environment.

Media in the Classroom

Though some teachers fear that increased exposure to digital media is shortening attention spans and negatively impacting social skills, others see benefits in the increased availability of technology. They are using digital media to bring experts into their classrooms through video conferencing and social media sites, to build communication skills through blogging, to hook students on learning through educational games and Edtech applications and to complete many other educational tasks. The fact is that technology has become the rule in classrooms rather than the exception. Kids are tuned into technology, and savvy teachers are using this existing interest to hook learners.

An alternative to the mainstream social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are what John Costilla calls “closed systems”. These are social media sites that are operated by the schools or private organizations which offer the same functions as “open” sites but don’t allow anyone not affiliated with the group to be a member “There are closed social media sites like Edmodo and Saywire, which are perfect for schools. “These closed sites fulfill an extremely important need, and that is communication. Learning is in the conversations and facilitating the conversation is facilitating learning, so social media facilitates learning. But the context is you have to protect the kids and give the teachers oversight, and that protects everyone.”

Here is a short video which will help you to get started with using Social Media and other applications in the classroom.

Additional resources mentioned by John in his video which teachers may want to use to help with integrating Social Media and technology into the classroom are Classroom 2.0, Animoto, and Poll Everywhere.

Today’s children are citizens of the virtual world, and parents and teachers need to recognize this. Experts, however, do recommend that caregivers consider limiting, guiding and monitoring children’s screen time, and they encourage both parents and teachers to educate children about safe and intelligent media use including the use of social media platforms.

Additional Resources For Teachers:

21st Century Learning and the 4Cs (Grades K-12)

Blended Learning: Fostering College and Career Readiness

Student Learning Through Gaming and Engagement – DimensionU

Increasing Student Engagement Planning Outside the Box