As previously planned I use opportunities to raise the use of social media in lessons; for example, if the topic lends itself I will ask the class what Face Book status would this character put or, what Tweet would this character put? I have found this really interesting as the responses from the pupils are often varied, but always in line with the character we are studying.
In addition, I have held a series of mini focus groups in preparation for my main Student Voice project. These were informal 'chats' mainly with KS 3 and the topic was simply 'Social Media'. I wanted to keep the topic open to see where the pupils took it and to see their baseline understanding of what social media was to them. They mostly participated in Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram and YouTube.
Interestingly, they took this platform of communication as the 'norm' and took it for granted (if that is the right word). The majority of pupils participated daily, mostly on smart phones or tablets.
The questions we discussed were: How they use social media? Why the use social media? Are there any dangers of using social media? Personal responsibility on social media; public persona (did they understand the open and public platform?) and Are their parents aware of their usage?
Although the answers were varied, as expected, there were themes. Social media is definitely an acceptable and widely use platform of communication with our youngsters. They use Face Book a lot for private messaging and group chats, often creating a chat for a specific reason - e.g. gathering, team sport and even school based projects or home work! They all like the fact that it is an instant mode of communication and widely accessed where ever they are.
When asked about the dangers of using social media, I was greeted with mostly blank faces... it hadn't really occurred to them that there could be any real dangers. An area that did come up was cyber bullying, and 'gossiping' about people via a status. One or two pupils were aware of 'cyber stranger danger' and we discussed tactics for them to use if this happened (as prompted by previous Digital Leader sessions).
I found these focus groups to be very insightful, they have given me focus to develop the idea further and move forward with the Student Voice Project that I will be starting soon with a colleague. The outcome for this project is to develop the themes that were raised in more depth. to create a video and to then show the video in an assembly format.