Opinion is divided on the subject, so I thought I’d offer my own nugget of wisdom.
Social sites like Facebook and Twitter, among many others, are attractive as means to convey information quickly and engage with an audience. For all intents and purposes, these mediums are free, which is what makes them so attractive. Depending how you use them, how regularly you communicate, and how actively you market your pages and feeds impacts their effectiveness.
From my experience working with teachers, they are less inclined to personally advertise their own Facebook account, and more likely to use Twitter to get a quick message out there simply because of the openness of Facebook, and the fact that they don’t want their students looking at what they’ve been up to outside of school. Lots of schools we know have many Twitter accounts for individual subjects – particularly high schools – which students can follow for regular updates. The students are rarely followed in return.
The only issue with this is that most Twitter users follow many others, and have many followers, so the Tweets can often get lost in the mix. I still think Facebook and Twitter have a huge place in society, but I’m not entirely convinced of their effectiveness as a means of engaging parents or students in education. That’s just my opinion.
It’s no secret that the affects of online bullying can be catastrophic. My own daughter suffered at the hands of a couple of individuals, whose ability to inflict misery and proffer threats of violence from a distance led to serious bouts of depression, self harming, and years of therapy. Thankfully, nothing more life changing, and my heart goes out to anyone who has had any similar experience. She doesn’t use the more popular social media outlets anymore.
What can we do to protect our children? Simply put … not a lot.
We can report threats and bullying, but after the damage is already done. That’s if, as parents, carers and other responsible adults, we find out in time to nip it in the bud. That relies on the child, or someone connected with them, telling a grown up what’s going on. The Cyber Police don’t exist, so it’s up to you to make sure your child is aware of the pitfalls, is prepared to take the risk, and will act responsibly.
The vast majority do.
Is blocking access the answer?
I doubt it.
Anyway, do you want or know how to censor your child’s online activities? There’s software and browser settings out there which can restrict access to various websites – particularly online porn – but I reckon only a handful of parents would have the first clue how to go about it. Moreover, kids are far more adept at this stuff than most parents, so a determined user will find a way around it. Also, how would you stop them downloading free apps for their smartphones and tablets? Most would say “I haven’t the foggiest idea”.
Schools often ban kids from bringing mobile phones to school, but – as parents and carers – we want them to have their phone on them in case we need to contact them, or they need to contact us. So they take the phone to school anyway, and try not to get caught.
Is Schoop the answer to parental engagement?
That’s up to you to decide. We think so, but if you want a couple of key points:
- Schoop isn’t social media, and we’re not competing in that marketplace
- Schoops are one-way, non-sensitive communications
- Schoop is localised and focused. Social media is gloablised
- Schoop is about the information your audience needs finding them, instead of having to search for it.
- Schoop is a cyber-bully free zone
Feel free to comment.