Contributed by Lexie Maitland, guest blogger.
I’m getting ready to start my junior year of high school. With a couple of years under my belt, I’m pretty well acquainted with my school’s use of social media, particularly Twitter. Ever since I began high school and started getting involved with various clubs and sports, I’ve noticed that the school has begun to take over Twitter in order to communicate with the students. Different clubs, such as Student Council and NHS, all have their own Twitter accounts where they post updates, information, and pictures. I understand that this is a convenient way to share important information with the student body, but is it really the safest approach? Does the school understand what they are doing by pressuring students to use the same form of social media that many are bullied on?
How can the school expect all students to be willing to create their own Twitter account? It’s definitely an unwritten requirement. Once you are involved, it feels as if the school obligates you to have a Twitter account in order to hear about essential information. I don’t know about you, but this just seems like too public of a way to communicate with students. Not only that, but you can’t rely on Twitter to insure the right people see the tweet in every case. Twitter feeds are long. You skim them, but you can easily miss things if you aren’t looking at the right time.
Back to the fact that most all of the different clubs/ sports teams at my school have their own Twitter account. I have to wonder, what happens to the minority of the students that aren’t allowed to have their own Twitter account? There are plenty of times where I hear fellow classmates of mine complain because their parents won’t let them have a Twitter account. Some of them do it anyway, knowing their parents probably won’t figure it out and because they feel they’d be missing out on certain school updates if they don’t have one. I also know students whose parents feel pressured to have a Twitter account themselves just to get school related updates, but they don’t feel it’s safe for their kids. So, they (the parent) set up a Twitter account, screen shot any important updates they happen to catch and text them to the students. Seems like there should be a much more productive way to get information safely to students- and parents.
Maybe I’m missing something, but I think schools (along with their clubs and sports teams) should be encouraging responsibility and privacy online vs. expecting all students and parents to use Twitter. Honestly, I feel that they sort of contradict themselves by relying so much on Twitter as a way to communicate. After all, isn’t a school supposed to promote tools that support positive and productive behavior? We all know that Twitter is a breeding grounds for social abuse and cyberbullying…after all, even the CEO admitted being ashamed of how they handle abuse (http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/02/05/twitter-ceo-abuse/22915289/).
Luckily, there is a better and much more PRIVATE way to communicate with students than on Twitter. It’s called Frienedy. Frienedy allows schools to promote positive digital citizenship and online privacy by setting up private groups to contain pertinent conversations. They no longer have to share things in the public eye, but are able to easily and PRIVATELY share information with the groups who need to see it real time. In my opinion, Frienedy is what every school needs to be using instead of Twitter. Given its privacy and heavy focus on promoting positive digital citizenship, it seems more in line with the mission of education in general. Since Frienedy is also compliant with COPPA, I believe parents would be more apt to allow their children to participate in this platform.
In my generation, social media is becoming such a big way for schools to communicate with the student body, but shouldn’t there be a responsibility to the parents? Not all parents approve of their child being part of the public social media world- automatically when they turn 13. Schools need to find a safer, more private place to share information with their student body and Frienedy is the perfect solution for that.