Use of Social Media in the Middle Grades

Use of Social Media in the Middle Grade Classroom

 

Christopher Smith & Samantha Pfirrman

smithct7@miamioh.edu | pfirrmsl@miamioh.edu

 

  "Should social media be used in the classroom?" 

  This question has been asked and researched in recent years. Social media has become part of everyday life for adolescents in today's society. It can be an asset to your classroom and help you connect with students using this media. However, with every benefit there is also a disadvantage; and social media's disadvantage is the misuse of the media in the hands of middle schoolers. Below is a research-based explanation of both the positives and negatives of using social media in your middle school classroom.

 

What is social media?

 Social media is an online means of communication that is used by a large portion of today's society to share information and develop social and professional relationships.

"Nothing is change, everything is different"

 - William J Ward 

 

Timeline of Social Media  

As can be seen from the timeline above, students that we see in classrooms today have had access to social media their entire lives.

Students will learn how to use these websites at a much younger age than past generations, and teachers should focus on teaching students how to effectively use them in a positive and responsible way.

 

Benefits to Using Social Media in Your Classroom

1. Student collaboration is increased. Students are more likely to become friends with their classmates because they are working together outside of school, where they don’t have to rely on parents as a ride to a meeting point. Many students feel more comfortable to approach others on social networks, rather than in person, leading to the development of relationships on a more comfortable level. This can then lead to students developing relationships to the point to where they’re more comfortable talking to someone face-to-face, whereas they may have never started communication with the person otherwise.

 

2. Some students are shy during class. Because of this, they won’t speak up in front of others. Social media allows these students to interact with their classmates, without having to speak out in front of the class. Students, today, have grown up around social media, thus it is a natural way for them to interact with others. Questions can be asked, by both teachers and students, allowing for collaboration by all to answer, not just the teacher. This allows for students to interact with one another, as well as lighten the load on the teacher because students are answering questions. Dialogs are created between students through the use of discussion boards, and then these dialogs can be referenced by other students, or just later on as a study tool. Unlike in the classroom, students have plenty of time to think about an answer before they respond to a prompt or discussion post.

 

3. Team projects benefit from the use of social media, as students are able to hold meetings with one another, and also work on projects, while not having to actually meet with the other students. Families are not always able to find available times for everyone, so this helps with that problem. This is not saying that it should be chosen over meeting in person, as face-to-face social interaction is always more beneficial, but it is an additional tool if needed.

 

4. Resources are increased when using social media, as teachers and students can share information they have found, and what they find to be useful for others to see. It can also be used to save resources that they found, to share with the class.

 

5. Students can conference with one another, such as using Google Hangouts to collaborate through video. This helps students gain independence from their parents, where they may not have the opportunity to do so otherwise.

 

6. The world we live in relies increasingly more on technology, and our students would benefit from learning how to adapt to this changing world. By using social networking in the classroom, and commonly using technology in general, we’re giving our students tools for higher education, and beyond.

 

It’s important to keep internet use in view of others in the family, no matter the situation. This includes when students are using social media networks for classroom use. This would prevent many of the negatives of using social media, and would allow for more opportunity for parents to get involved with their students’ school lives.

 

In this video, a primary school teacher explains how she uses blogs and Twitter in her classroom. These same principles can be applied to the middle school classrooms as well, and should be. 

 

Many students are using social media, and teachers must adapt to the ever changing world of the students that are entering our classrooms. Click here for a link to some statistics on our students' use of social media.

 

Below is a video from TEDx explaining how schools need to be preparing students for the world after grade school, and that includes being adaptive and ever-evolving. In today's society, a focus of change is on technology.

 

 

Problems with Social Media in the Classroom


1. The temptation to get off task is much greater when students are on social media. You might think that they are on task, while the student may be misusing technology. However, this can occur whether social media is being used or not, as technology is a staple in not only education, but in our society as a whole.

 

2. Bullying is a major issue in today's schools and using social media can promote cyber bullying. This is especially prominent for young girls in the middle grades. It’s easier for students to be bullied behind the screen of a computer, and many people feel bolder, and more confident, to bully online over doing so in person. Teachers and administration can't monitor every students' activities online.

3. You’re holding their hands if you continue to give them reminders, online, at this stage in their education.

4. Discourages face-to-face communication. Students don’t learn how to interact with people who are right in front of them where they need to be able to answer right away. It is hard to express and receive expression when communicating online as well. Overall, this could hurt the development of crucial communication and interpersonal skills.


If social media is to be used in the classroom, again, it should be used as an additional tool, not the primary force, for learning and communicating. This should always be face-to-face communication.

 

Resources

Gupta, Written By Priyanka. "Some Interesting Statistics & Facts on Social Media in Education You Must Know." EdTechReview. EdTechReview, 24 Sept. 2016.Web <http://edtechreview.in/data-statistics/2523-social-media-in-education-statistics>.

Holmquist, Julie. "Social Networking Sites: Consider the Benefits, Concerns for Your Teenager." Impact Newsletter. University of Minnesota, 2011. Web. <https://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/241/25.html>.

Hopkins, Bruce. "Advantages of Using Social Media for Students in Education." Academia Apps. Academia Apps, 07 Apr. 2017. Web. <https://www.academiaapps.com/advantages-social-media-education/>.

Hopkins, Bruce. "Twitter in the Classroom." Academia Apps. Academia Apps, 02 Feb. 2016. Web. <https://www.academiaapps.com/twitter-in-the-classroom/>.

Incorporating Social Media in the Classroom: William J Ward at TEDxKalamazoo. Dir. TEDx. Perf. William J Ward. YouTube. N.p., 7 Oct. 2013. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLBMiy3VBQQ>.

"The Use of Social Media in School." Best Masters in Education. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.bestmastersineducation.com/social-media/>.