Friday, July 22, 2016

Social Media Made me "Famous"

About four years ago a few of my coworkers and I began doing flipped lessons for biology. We created this video:

In the last few years, when I have my students watch it from my YouTube channel, they crack me up by saying "Mrs. Hahn, you're famous! Look how many hits you have on this video!" --currently, this video has over 80,000 hits.

In their eyes, they think I've "made" it (so funny!). When I look at those hits, I'm thinking "woah, what's going on here?!" Out of the bazillion YouTube videos that exist and are uploaded daily, they think I've "made it" in the digital world. :)

This is how some of our teens think. The more likes I have on my social media, the more people that like me. It's as if the "likes" are currency for students. According to the PBS Frontline Documentary, "Generation Like," these likes and comments kids are receiving on their social media platforms are instant gratification. Teens are feeling empowered through Instagram and Snapchat because they feel like they have a voice, and that their voice is being heard.
“The typical teenager sends and receives an incredible 3,339 texts a month."
Can you imagine? That's more than 6 messages every hour, and 92% of teens go on social media daily, if not multiple times a day. According to the documentary, every time they like and retweet, they create data for companies that are looking to market their products to teens. Their voices are being heard-by product advertisers and companies that are using data generated by likes on social media platforms to market directly back to young people. While young people think they are retweeting the latest and greatest thing, they are really a part of a bigger plan (sounds kind of scary, but from the marketing perspective it's smart!). 

It is vital we teach students in school HOW to operate in this digital world. We may not understand how the digital world works and why they are so connected, but it is time to stop asking young people to meet adults at "our" level. We have to get down in their world and teach them about digital communication, etiquette, health, and security. In an open-internet environment, our students now and even as adults will have the ability to innovate and create things that are unimaginable. Things that don't even exist yet. We want them to have the chance to be successful, and they may not be if they have a intentional, or unintentional negative digital footprint. Let's teach our students to be positive contributors to the digital world.

Where can you as an educator start?
  • Are you on social media like Twitter? Create an educator account, there are lots of teachers to connect to (probably right at your school).
  • Start a class Instagram. Post what fun things you've been doing in class (make sure it's ok to post students' faces). Put out study questions for students to think about-they would love to follow you!
  • Check out for resources on how to help our students understand digital citizenship.

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