Imagine a small fire. I'm sure you've gone camping and sat by a cozy fire under the stars. Putting out that fire is relatively easy. Add a little water. Maybe toss on some dirt, but overall, after some small effort, the fire is out. However, when lighter fluid or carelessness happens that fire can become extremely dangerous and turn into a forest fire. And that can be almost impossible to contain.
Bullying and mean behavior are a lot like that fire. When two students have a dilemma, we are able to work with those two students and help "extinguish" the problem. Through reflection, restorative justice, and the Tools, it's possible to make everyone feel better, especially the victim. Now when that meanness makes it on to a social media platform it spreads like that forest fire. At that point, it's near impossible to work with everyone who was involved. It's near impossible to track down everyone who says the mean or hurtful post. It's near impossible to help the victim feel like justice has been restored.
With social media acting as an accelerant for bullying it's time make a stand. NO MORE AT SCHOOL. While there are plenty of benefits to social media such as staying in touch with distant relatives or sharing your interests or hobbies, it is not designed for children.
Most platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and music.ly have a minimum age of 14 – that's older than every child on this campus. For YouTube it's 18 (13 with parental consent). Besides social media, here are some more reasons why children under that age should not be on social media:
- Technological/digital savviness - Young children have a limited amount of experience online and may not understand the digital footprint they leave and appropriate online behavior.
- Social and emotional development - Elementary-aged children are generally not able to articulate their feelings or take on other people's perspectives like adults.
- Cognitive development - The brain is still in a highly developing stage and the need to get "likes" and "follows" can lead to brain developmental issues similar to the use of drugs or alcohol (WebMD).
The decision is up to you, but it's important to consider the age requirements and developmental needs of our young children. The power and responsibility to remain safe and appropriate is challenging without setting clear expectations and monitoring closely.
Ultimately any mean behavior, whether online, on paper, or face to face is not acceptable. We want our students to be kind to one another and be able to work to solve any problem. When those issues make their way to social media, they often happen in front of a larger audience and create even bigger problems. We want to keep those fires under control and put them out.
If your child wants to use his or her device at school, it may NOT have any social media access including apps.