Feb 15 2009
Confident, Social, Inquisitive
A year ago when I was talking to my class about Twitter they all looked at me as if I was MAD! Last week I did much the same thing with a different bunch of 9 and 10 year olds and, things have changed – only about half of them looked at me as if I was totally BARMY!
So what has been the difference? What has changed so much in the last year to effect children in my class?
Simply put, I think there has been a huge increase in the number of times Twitter has been referred to in mainstream media. I have heard Radio 1 DJs discussing it and I even saw Chris Moyles’ Twitter account when he had 55 followers, later that day he had 55,000! Our local commercial radio here in Nottingham has also been on about it – on the same day I heard both the morning and drivetime show talking about Twitter.
Photo credit to Matt Hamm
This is of course just part of the bigger picture for our kids but I think it makes a huge difference. My class are confident, social, inquisitive internet users who will happily explore new resources and sites. About 10 percent knew about Facebook and had been using Mum’s or bigger sister’s/brother’s account.
The “older sibling effect” is an interesting one. Although it may only effect a percentage of my class their awareness of these social networking sites has been raised by those in Year 7, 8 and 9 who are regular users. Combined with the fact that social media seems to be becoming less “fringe” makes our 9 year olds much more aware.
So is it up to us in primary education to teach and guide the children on how to use these appropriately? I think it is.
Not many of my class could actually explain what Twitter was, or indeed Facebook, which at best was “a place to look at pictures of your friends and class mates.” I don’t think my class is particularly different from those around the country, and so next year I can probably expect even more children knowing about these sites as I think even more mainstream space will be filled by them.
Unless the mainstream of primary education addresses this then children’s awareness and use of social media will always be (as it is now) 10, 20, 1000 steps ahead of the type of education they are entitled to. I am not talking about lessons on how to get the most from your Facebook account for 9 year olds, but time to raise their awareness. An opportunity for us to show positive examples, to build their knowledge and understanding and help them make better choices in the future.
Do you have a class of primary children? Do they know about Twitter, Facebook and social networking sites? How can our curriculum best adapt to these changing times? Can it?!