Administrator’s Corner by Tyler Johnson
TikTok. SnapChat. Instagram. Ask any middle school student what their favorite social media platform is, and there is a good chance it is one of those three. There are all sorts of statistics out there that show just how many middle schoolers use social media. In general, many do, but that is not the point of this article. The point of this article is to provide you, the parent and/or guardian, with information on these platforms and how to help have conversations with your student(s) about these platforms.
I’m sure many have heard the saying, “There is more computer power in a smartphone today then there was in the entire Apollo rocket that landed on the moon.” Although a common saying, it is often overlooked, or underappreciated. When we give our students smartphones, we are giving them tremendous amounts of power, including the social media apps. That is not to say all social media is bad. Social media can be a great way for people to stay connected, instill creativity amongst its users and provide helpful information.
Unfortunately, when it is brought into my office by a student or group of students it usually isn’t for something good. Too many times I have seen social media conversations between students that are down right mean and degrading toward one another. These hurtful comments are often said outside of school, but become a school issue because the first time many of the students see each other is at school.
Middle school is already challenging enough as many students are going through puberty, trying to discover who they are and what they want to be, and who their friends are. Here at Southwest, it’s the first time all four of our elementary school students merge together. Southwest does offer a digital citizenship class to all sixth graders that is designed to introduce topics relevant to their life. Students learn how to be appropriate online, how to respond to appropriate things online, as well as how to use digital and online tools to create their own content.
Parents and guardians today are busy. It can be overwhelming to try and keep up with the latest social media trends. Again, the purpose of this article is not to make anyone a social media expert. I wanted to provide our parents and guardians with tips and solutions on how to help their student(s) navigate throughout this internet and social media age.
According to research done by Dr. Bradford Brown of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, here are five things parents/guardians can do about their student(s) social media use:
1. Be Aware: Read articles, talk to other adults to stay current on how various social media work and which ones are “in” and “out” among teens. This will help you set reasonable guidelines.
2. Show interest: Ask your children about their social media, listen to their stories, give advice or assistance when asked. Children share more with parents who seem genuinely interested and supportive.
3. Set guidelines: Establish clear rules for your child’s use of social media and try to be consistent in enforcing the rules.
4. Keep tabs: Find a reasonable way to monitor what your child is doing on social media. Be consistent with how you keep tabs on your child’s activity on social media.
5. Be flexible: As children grow older, adjust the guidelines to give them more responsibility.
Our mission statement is to ensure individual academic, social and emotional growth that leads to engaged citizens and lifelong learners. There is an old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I believe that saying still holds true today. The more our “village” of Southwest students, their families and staff can work together, the easier it will be to fulfill our mission statement for each of our students.
Tyler Johnson is principal of Southwest Middle School.