Social Media – Teach or Preach?


Like most people I am very concerned about the whole topic of Cyberbullying and the effect it has been having on some of our young people.

After the tragic suicides recently we decided to do our part and we produced a simple info graphic called “safebook” , which is an easy guide for young people. Our objective was to encourage the safe and responsible use of social media and at the same time provide clear advice to people who may be faced with a bullying situation.

Safebook Poster - CyberbullyingOur poster struck a chord with people all over the world – it’s been downloaded in over 100 countries, which I put down to its simplicity and I believe it is helping parents and teachers to have sensible conversations about the responsible use of social media with their children.

Our activity in this area has brought us into contact with many teachers, schools and organisations and I can see the considerable efforts that are being made to control and deal with the issue. I am watching the training programmes, I can see the liaison with the authorities and government agencies and I can see how schools are making attempts to block the use of these platforms and do their best to cope with the situation.

I have also heard presentations from Facebook who are attempting to deal with this huge issue, introduce controls and mechanisms to help people report incidents and inappropriate behaviour.

On one side I’m watching all of the downside – the social media concern, the “control” activity but what about the huge upside?

Social media is now a really valuable life skill that we all should learn – most of our clients would grab job applicants who are social media savvy. Is there a dilemma?

Teaching Social MediaTeach not Preach!

From my considerable exposure to this huge Cyberbullying issue my conclusion is that we need to embrace the social media tools from a sensible, early age and we should encourage the positive use of these platforms in schools (probably the best place to ensure this happens).

How about:
– students publishing their essays on their own personal blogs
– classes that show the children how to set up their social media accounts including their privacy settings
– setting up Facebook groups for use by each of the classes
– setting up Twitter accounts for the Economics, History, Science and Geography classes and following and interacting with other relevant accounts to facilitate learning and staying up to date with current issues

At the same time I do feel that the social media providers must self regulate, put in the controls and aids, be proactive around privacy settings and act sensibly – however, the main solution is in the users hands.

While I know it won’t be easy, while I know it will require a lot of training, I know social media is a valuable skill, which will be critical to every young person in the future.

Why not concentrate on teaching and forget the preaching?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion.

Fuzion provide social media consultancy and training services from the offices in Dublin and Cork.

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6 Responses to “Social Media – Teach or Preach?”

  1. Fergal Bell Says:

    The infographic is great Greg and it’s amazing to think you’ve had such a positive and wide-ranging response. I think you’re right that adults and young people can’t duck away from social media. It’s just a medium and can be a force for good as well as bad – it’s all in how it’s used.

    Well done again.

  2. Sharon Boyle Says:

    Digital Literacy in schools is of utmost importance and we should be embracing it. We should know by now that banning young people from doing something will have the opposite effect. By integrating these activities into the curriculum, a dialogue is opened up, and we are more likely to be able to identify when someone is having problems with bullying. Excellent and effective poster!

  3. oscontelecom Says:

    Greg, Great post as always, I think that teaching our kids how to interact safely online is the only way to go, blocking access is OK for the very young but will alienate teenagers.and they will find a way to get online with out the controls. I think parents need to become the experts on the sites their children are using. This will allow them to spot any cyber bulling. They should also be having conversations with their kids so the kids know how to block the abuse and know how to report it.

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