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Bachon Ke Liye

TOI SEPT 25-`Teachers must tell kids how to make best use of social media'

September 25, 2014 05:28 AM

Sep 25 2014 : The Times of India (Mumbai)
`Teachers must tell kids how to make best use of social media'
Vinamrata Borwankar

Social media is not only influencing our lives, but of late has also crept into the classrooms. As young students have increasingly started engaging on the web, schools and parents are worried about it taking a toll on them.
Identifying the need to address this concern, St Mary's School (ICSE) in Mazgaon, on Wednesday , hosted a session to discuss social media and education as part of the ongoing Social Media Week. “Most schoolchildren are using smart phones and are already logged on to the social network. So, teachers need to know how to let students make the best use of it,“ said Fr Kenneth Misquitta, principal. Students and teachers from about 15 schools were part of the conversation.

“According to studies, children between eight and 14 years of age spend about two hours a day online. While 90% parents think they are aware of what their kids are doing online, about 50% children do not agree. It is important that parents talk to their children about responsible usage of the media,“ said Paresh Chaudhary, CEO of Madison PR, and a panelist at the session.

Schools often have to step in when students use social media irresponsibly . “Students post nasty comments about peers or teachers but are not aware of the legal consequences. This is when we need to intervene; talk to parents and involve counsel ors. After a few incidents, we sent out circulars to parents,“ said Shim Mathew, principal, Vibgyor High School.

Differently-abled students may be more vulnerable to abuse on social media. “ A young girl with learning disability had disclosed to a stranger online that her parents were on vacation. Three days later, four men robbed the house. Safety and health are two very important things which might be exposed to abuse on social media,“ said Dr Zirak Marker, child psychiatrist, and CEO, Aditya Birla In tegrated School. “ A structured and supervised use can be very beneficial in cases where social skills need to be developed.“

Educators feel it is important they open up to the medium. “I once allowed students to bring their phones to class and then made a spelling error on the board. Within seconds, they used their phones and pointed out the mistake. We need to accept the existence of the media and make the best use of it,“ said Indu Shahani, principal, HR College. She extensively uses social media to engage with current and former students.

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