See No Evil?

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by daveynin

I had the question yesterday from an IT Director (one that I have been asked several times) about the “issues” that happen when you open up social media in schools.  He told me about a principal that said that they continuously deal with issues because of Facebook, Twitter, etc. (remember…the sites are not the issue but the behaviour) and the principal said that it would be easier if they shut it down.  He then asked me how I would deal with it.

The first thing that popped into my head was this video of kids that aren’t any good at playing hide and seek:

This video really made me think that many believe if we close our eyes, nothing bad is happening.


In fact, if we shut down social media in schools, we are less likely to teach our kids how to use that sites safely and effectively, and students are more likely to make mistakes.  Isn’t education the main way we solve problems in our society or are we adopting “ignoring stuff” as the new solution?

Recently, I did an interview on this very topic and the host said that my logic on this topic was similar to getting kids to drink with parents at home.


When the adults in the room say things like this, it first of all terrifies me, and then makes me realize they have not seen the positive impact that social media can make on their lives and the lives of others.  I was so glad to see that Global Television recently wrote an article and shared a video on the work we are doing in PSD70, and more specifically, the classroom of Kelli Holden and her grade 4 students, to inform the public that there are a lot of positives that can come from the effective use of social media.

With anything, there is good and bad.  Ignoring teaching our kids about this medium is not going to help them in any way to see the positives and we can’t just say, “not our problem” anymore.  If we only teach the curriculum to our kids, we have failed.  It is imperative that we work with our students to be people that follow their passions, be positive citizens, and make a difference in their world now, not the world we lived in as kids.

Thanks to Emily Mertz for doing a wonderful story on our teachers and students at PSD70! Check out the video below if you are interested in seeing what our teachers are doing to make a difference.

7 thoughts on “See No Evil?

  1. Ariel

    I agree with your position George. It is our job (and parents’ jobs, too) to teach our students how to use, navigate, and be mindful of social media. As a science teacher, I expose my students to dangerous chemicals. I teach them how to use it properly and guess what – they use it properly. Are there mistakes? Yes. And they learn from it. Likewise, students can be hurt by social media, and we teach them how to use it and what to do if they do get hurt, the benefits outweigh the risks.

  2. Tracey Thomas

    I enjoyed reading the post, but couldn’t watch the video, since I am in a district that believes in shutting it all down. I agree, we are not teaching our students anything by following this practice. thank you once again for your valuable insight.

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  4. PIS Canada (@PIS_Canada)

    Let’s use social media as a tool to teach parents and educators that the measure of what is good or bad is not whether get we caught or not, but rather how to use it in an ethical fashion-the lesson!

  5. Rhoni McFarlane

    I think this logic applies to many reactive responses that take place in education. A kid falls over and breaks their arm doing a cartwheel and we “ban” cartwheels at school. High school sports day attendance is low so we abandon sports day forever more.
    I truly think we need to start changing the way we look at these things before we put them in the “too hard” basket.
    We need to first ask – What is important or positive about……
    Once we acknowledge its value, we then need to find a way to make it work.
    If you are having “issues” with the way social media is being used, it tells me we need to teach our students more not less. If attendance is low on sports day, we need to connect with students to find out why and make adjustments so it is meaningful to all.
    As for cartwheels, seriously – they are just fun! Find a way, a space and teach to ensure kids can cartwheel to their hearts content! Just my take :)

  6. Mark Moran (@findingDulcinea)

    The U.S. FCC, which administers CIPA (the that gave rise to filtering) writes, “we do not find that [social media] websites are per se ‘harmful to minors’ or fall into one of the categories that schools and libraries must block….Indeed, the U.S. Department of Education recently found that social networking websites have the potential to support student learning, stating that students can ‘participate in online social networks where people from all over the world share ideas, collaborate, and learn new things.’ Declaring such sites categorically harmful to minors would be inconsistent with the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act’s focus on ‘educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and cyberbullying awareness and response.’”

    In other words, U.S. schools that are blocking social media, instead of teaching students how to use it responsibly, are not only burying their heads in the sand, they are violating U.S. law and acting inconsistent with the findings of the US Dept of Education and FCC.

    See Slide 9 of this presentation for a link to the FCC’s pronouncement, and more on Understanding CIPA to Fight the Filter:

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