The exploitation of social media and how educators can positively enforce safe online practices

I have always been ‘pro-ICTs’ and ‘pro-Social media,’ especially when it has been embedded appropriately within ones teaching practices as well as for personal use.  However, after reading the news this past few weeks, it has come apparent to me that social media isn’t what it used to be – or what it was originally intended for.  Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook has been noted to saying the following quote,

Back, you know, a few generations ago, people didn’t have a way to share information and express their opinions efficiently to a lot of people. But now they do. Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard.

Mark Zuckerberg

This quote is very interesting to me and really exemplifies the effects and wide-spread impact social media has had on the 21st century in comparison to technology in previous centuries before.  The most important part I feel of this quote is when he states that, ‘with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard.’  This brings me to the main point of this blog post.  Over the past few weeks, I had been watching and reading the news only to be seeing a reoccurring issue that kept presenting itself in different circumstances based upon teenagers, social media and terrorism.  Just reading those three words: “TEENAGERS,” “SOCIAL MEDIA” and “TERRORISM” I believe should not ever be seen in the same sentence.  Three articles documenting this issue are as follows below:

  1. The Age newspaper: “Social media role in fight against global terror must be recognised and matched as IS wields new weapons.” by Professor Fethi Mansouri (15/03/2015)
  2. PC Mag: “The social media sisterhood of ISIS” by Chandra Steele (18/03/2015) – very informative article with a lot of background information and supporting video clips.
  3. “Fresh-faced Westerners are being lulled into terrorism by ISIS propaganda” (13/03/2015)

Within these articles, it is evident that social media is not being used for its original intentions anymore and in fact, social media now isn’t as innocent and safe as what parents, teenagers and teachers may seem.  The purpose of this blog post was not to scare teacher’s away from using social media within their classrooms – I believe social media has its place, and when used effectively, can be an amazing tool.  This post however was created to build awareness of an issue that is currently being circulated within the media and effecting parents, students and teachers alike.

You maybe asking yourself, what can we do to prevent terrorists and unwanted content and propaganda being exposed to our students? I know, that’s something I have been asking myself.  After some extensive research, I came across the CyberSmart website designed for children, teenagers, parents, teachers and schools to tackle the issue of cyber safety.  I have actually sat in on a CyberSmart seminar a few years ago and it was a huge eyeopener.  I am a person who thought I knew the in’s and out’s of the internet, however I was quickly awoken to the dark-side of the internet and social media.  On this site as well, there is information on the three bodies of education within Queensland, Education Queensland (EQ), Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) and Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC).  Information relating to each body can be found HERE where information relating to cyber safety and policies can be found.

Below are some stats to also support the use of social media by our students.  It is very interesting to note that the students who we currently teach, have only every known life to have internet and social media within it.  Majority of students in 2015 have at least one form of social media platform in that they are signed up to.

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy Infographic

I also believe students don’t know how to be cyber safe without the guidance from teachers and parents instructing them on how to do so – we cannot just assume they know! Being an administer of education, it should be imperative for teachers to allow students to use technology and social media in a safe manner exemplifying ways that students can use the resource to optimize the learning experience as well as being safe at the same time.  One way of teaching students about safety on the internet is exploring a students ‘digital footprint.’  An article written by Educational Technology and Mobile Learning titled ‘A great guide in teaching students about digital footprint’ is a great start for teachers to educate students on building a safe and positive presence online.  Another way is to educate students on being tracked online.  This article, written by Jackson Chung titled, ‘You’re being watched online’ is another great tool along with an informative image (as seen below) to assist in also teaching students about how their internet ‘movements’ can be traced online.

Finally, there needs to be a cooperative alliance between teachers and parents when tacking cyber safety.  Although teacher’s have a responsibility to inform and to educate students on social media, being cyber smart and skills relating to the use of technology in a safe manner, it is also the responsibility for parents to enforce and engage with their students at home on being cyber safe.  A really informative clip below was created for parents to understand the extent of the internet and social media today and how to become more aware and knowledgeable.

Without a team approach of teachers and parents, students will have free range access of the internet, potentially putting them in harms way.  By accessing and utilizing the resources above, parents and teachers can be more informed and help build and maintain a safe online environment for their students.


One thought on “The exploitation of social media and how educators can positively enforce safe online practices

  1. Reblogged this on Sammychis and commented:
    WOW Stefanie! you have really covered all areas associated with cyber safety!
    Using social media Web sites is among the most common activity of today’s children and adolescents. Any Web site that allows social inter- action is considered a social media site, including social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter; gaming sites and virtual worlds such as Club Penguin, Second Life, and the Sims; video sites such as YouTube; and blogs. Such sites offer today’s youth a portal for entertainment and communication and have grown exponentially in recent years. For this reason, it is important that parents become aware of the nature of social media sites, given that not all of them are healthy environments for children and adolescents. Pediatricians are in a unique position to help families understand these sites and to encourage healthy use and urge parents to monitor for potential prob- lems with cyberbullying, “Facebook depression,” sexting, and exposure to inappropriate images and videos


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