Practicing Safe Six

Hanna Bradford, Fall 2014 J1 student

According to Facebook, there are approximately 1.28 billion users worldwide who access their accounts daily. Of those 50 million pages some of them can be unsafe.

Passwords from Twitter, Google, Yahoo and Facebook have been leaked through hackers.

“We can’t ignore social media,” said Kelsey Bakalar, a teacher who recently started using social media in her ELA classes. “It’s here. It’s not going away, so the best thing we can do is teach our kids how to use it in a way that benefits them in our classes.”

From some of the most popular social media sites, two billion usernames and passwords have been made public giving access to emails and other online sites.

“Honestly, I think being a teacher, in some respects, reminds me of being a young person,” Bakalar said. “You are very concerned about your privacy. You’re very concerned about people abusing your social media accounts.”

Freshman Sanjula Bhuri said she follows her ethnics to ensure that she is safe while using her social media accounts and encourages others to follow the same rules she has.

“I think that if kids make the right choices on social media — like friending the right people, not talking to strangers, follow all cybersafety rules — then they will be fine,” Bhuri said.

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Tips and tricks are flying through the airspace every day on how to be safe online. Teachers, students and parents have good guidelines they follow to maintain their identity according to Bhuri.

“I’ve blogged before, and I’ve always marked [my blogs] private, so people have to request to follow me, and I can deny that. I have denied that quite a bit,” Bakalar said.

In the United States, over 56 percent of people have a social media account and this number is rising according to Convince and Convert, a digital marketing website.

“Out of my freshmen –I have about 90 this year– there were two that said they did not use social media at all. The other 88 all had a preferred form of social media,” Bakalar said.

Due to the popularity of social media, there is less face-to-face interaction among people. Even teachers and schools are using social media to give updates on events or to turn in class assignments.

“I know there are some of the senior teachers in my department that have kids sign up for different services where they can get messages,” Bakalar said. “It’s like text messaging except you can’t respond to it to. [You can] get updates on what’s due or whether they should be working on that night and I think thats amazing that they can do that.”

Privacy and maturity are a concern when using social media in the classroom. Teachers including Tierney Weed, Kelsey Bakalar and Ryan Mahoney have started using social media in their ELA classes.

“I think we have to teach kids how to be mature about using [social media sites],” Bakalar said. “We need to say, ‘Here’s your technology, here’s when it’s appropriate to use it, now let’s practice that. Here’s when it’s inappropriate to use it, let’s not do that.’ Instead of avoiding it, we have to teach kids in a very specific way how to use it.”

Bhuri said she thinks the only way people can abuse social media is by posting things that could hurt others but she still sees the benefit in using social media in the classroom.

“On a school environment, social media is somewhat useful because it allows people to see things about their classmates, discussions about class work, research topics etc,” Bhuri said.

Kahoot and Socrative are sites used by teachers to facilitate learning in their classrooms.

Mr. Barikmo did some professional development about two weeks ago and taught us how to use Sacrative,” Bakalar said. “It’s a way for kids to provide answers anonymously, or if I want to give a little pop quiz that just has a couple questions, I can score it really quickly. You can see on your computer screen the answers as they pop up, and you can click what you want the class to see.”

With these thoughts in mind teachers like Bakalar try to choose such sites.

“I just haven’t been able to find a site that I like and that protects my privacy and identity,” Bakalar said.

Students have their own tips for being safe and protecting their identity online.

“Post, comment and share things that would reflect you as a person in the community as a good person,” Bhuri said. ”I would definitely encourage people to really follow all those cybersafety rules they learned throughout their lives because it really helps.”

Bhuri said she hope other people will see that she is a good “sybeer citizedn” by the information she posts in social media.

“I don’t have any feeling of fear, maybe a little satisfaction that people will be looking at good things,” Bhuri said.

Still there are pros and cons for logging on to social media and students are recognizing the impact social media has on a school’s environment according to Bhuri.

“It allows me to see other people’s viewpoints,” Bhuri said. “Social media also helps me learn new things I never knew and helps me be more aware of my surroundings.”

With all the mixed review of social media, parents can be nervous and somewhat apprehensive to letting their child partake in social media sites.

“I think parents’ biggest fear is that their kids will see something bad on social media or that their kid will post something bad on social media that might damage someone’s self-esteem,” Bhuri said.

Bakalar said learning is facilitated by social media even with the pros and cons that come with it.

“People can see how other people think and understand you don’t have to be narrow-minded while using social media,” Bhuri said.