Unsocial Social Media!
The recent publicity about how schools deal with private property, mobile phones and the bullying around it, highlights a growing problem. As virtually every student in a secondary school is likely to have at least one mobile phone the government’s solution of giving teacher’s permission to remove them seems to miss a point.
Yes, having pupils fiddling with their phones rather than listening intently to the lesson is going to be annoying. (Perhaps there should be some reflection on the content of the lesson but…!) However, it is not the item itself; it is how and when it is used that is the issue. Surely there are excellent teaching points to be taken advantage of here? Social media is here to stay and it is for schools to find their way through it. Trying to ban mobiles even if you can now physically remove them is like trying to hold a dam with your hands!
At my school we have seen an increase in the amount of bullying and also in the type of nastiness via Face Book and emails. (Interestingly twitter does not seem to be favoured among the 13 – 16 age group) The major problem schools face is not with what happens during school time. Fights and squabbles in the playground or even inside school can be seen and are often caught on the many CCTV cameras that are now in our schools.
No the problem is outside in the big wide world beyond the influence of school and it is invisible. The internet has created a communication mechanism that was never available before when you had to rely on using the telephone down at the end of the road. It is also so immediate and can gather momentum with frightening speed.
Tackling this phenomenon will not succeed by removing the machines. We have only to look at the industrial revolution and the luddites to see how successful that approach can be. What is needed is some time spent looking at the effects of inappropriate use and exploring the purposes of social media and the etiquette that surrounds it. It should form part of the pastoral curriculum as well as the technical side of ICT.
What is not needed is for young people to be told ‘No you can’t’ when clearly they CAN and WILL!
How is your school dealing with the influence of Face Book and other social media sites? Do you agree with teachers having the power of removal when it comes to mobile phones?