Bahhh... social media.
It's the monster we love to hate. Yet it also is a vehicle to keep us connected with loved ones beyond our household, particularly highlighted by the pandemic and/or if you're an ex-pat.
For those of us who grew up learning to navigate it on our own, perhaps some of the consequences were direr. Although, we also know what life was like before these devices, too. For me, I've made plenty of blunders as learning experiences, have learnt that being overly positive is "the way", and know that whenever I'm not in the "Green Zone" of my emotional regulation, I should always wait 24 hours before responding, if at all.
In terms of balance, I also make clear and cognizant choices; otherwise, I end up in a rabbit hole.
My biggest choice is that I only allow Twitter on my phone as the only endless scrolling Social Media app. All others are a distraction for me for time better spent that will actually improve my well-being (e.g. going on a bike ride with my son, playing tennis, having a swim, going out for lunch as a family).
I allow myself 20 minutes on a weekend to have a quick notification check on Facebook (on my laptop), but even that is unnecessary as I find it still sucks me into endless scrolling.
Most of my non-F2F connections are done via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. I have a fortnightly video chat with my parents in Canada (along with some Facebook Messenger back and forth) and that is more than enough time for proper catchup - well, at least for me.
Another big one for me is no work email/apps on my phone. The most pivotal and mindful decision I ever made. Important news gets to me, but it is rare that I ever need to be bothered in non-work hours.
As a family, we stick to a no-screens at the table policy (whether we're home or dining out) and my son has a device contract that he, my wife and I all had a say in. He is eight.
If I had it my way, there'd be no WiFi or phone use in my bedroom, but I can't win all battles I guess.
Okay, that's me personally. And I'm, "old".
Yet it is this generation... that rules the nation.
Kudos if you know the reference.
Luckily (or unluckily), these kiddos today are digital natives. By that, I mean they already have a generation (or two) ahead of them that made plenty of blunders navigating the waters, and are able to offer some words of wisdom, provide resources, and even write a book or two.
They even have some documentaries to "Netflix and chill" to on the subject.
Therefore, especially as educators, we have a grave responsibility to help them navigate these waters.
This leads us nicely into our COETAIL Course 2 - ISTE Educator Standard Indicator of the Week - Citizenship 3a - which is about not only creating positive digital citizens engaging in online communities but empowering digital leaders within those spaces.
A contextual example to share
One way simple way (of many) that I foster a positive community online is through TAG feedback. We use it as an alternative to "Two stars and a wish", and use it often in class. However, to take it a step further, we connect to multiple Seesaw Blogs around our school and offer TAG feedback once a week on other people's work. We rotate whose class it is each week, and the feedback is reciprocated. The kids love having an audience beyond their four walls, and they love getting positive and constructive feedback that drives their learning forward.
Not sure where to start? No problem!
Here are some of my favourite, "Go-To" educator resources:
Some adult reading to challenge your thinking / perspective...
Must-read book for educators:
Amazing Professional Development:
And Finally - The kids' perspectives
Going further, COETAIL also inspired us to have a conversation with our kiddos on the topic.
Without any front-loading, I asked my class to help me out with a survey for this course. I told them it was optional, anonymous, and just to answer as honestly as possible. They are ten years old.
Which of the above are most important to you? e.g. Text message
I did ask my students what challenges they face when connecting with their friends, but most responses were about laggy internet. They mentioned they solved this by restarting their device or trying again later.
In sum, I'm pretty happy with the results. I feel like my kids are and were pretty candid, so it does bring a smile to my face that kids prefer real connections over chatting within Roblox.
I also think the pandemic does and has illuminated the importance of face-to-face connections. The "lockdown" provocation really helped all humans appreciate how hardwired we are to be social creatures.
How about you? Please do share...