Can Teachers Take the Monster Out of Twitter?

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photo credit: Rosaura Ochoa via photopin cc

Twitter is an absolute monster. It’s scarier than Frankenstein, Dracula, or any other horror film character–according to many parents, that is.

What? You don’t think Twitter is scary? Okay, maybe it isn’t frightening to you, but if you’ve tried to get your students to use Twitter, you know what I mean.

Anytime I say I want to use Twitter, a chorus of students sings loudly, “My parents won’t let me on Twitter.” When I ask why, they say their parents are scared of Twitter.

Parents — the adults on whom we rely to make informed decisions — think Twitter is unsafe. It’s some sort of social media monster, waiting to devour children the second they click “follow.”

Twitter for kids
Twitter for kids

Coping with fear of Twitter

The problem is parents don’t believe a social network like Twitter can be private. It’s a stigma with which most social networks are cursed.

To assuage parents’ fear of Twitter, teachers must encourage them to be part of the process. Send emails or letters home, explaining the value of Twitter as a teaching and learning tool. Discuss it at open house; explain how you’ll crete a safe, engaging space for children.

Seek help from students

I’ve always enlisted students to help me create a mutually beneficial Twitter environment. I teach them appropriate use and digital citizenship.

We talk about using hashtags, sharing media, and what others will think about their posts.

Then, I encourage them to ask their parents to join Twitter and follow our classroom Twitter feed. With parents following both our classroom and their own children on Twitter, what could be safer?

With this approach, maybe we can take the monster out of Twitter.

Are you using Twitter in class? Tell us how it’s going in the comment section below.

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series, The uNseries, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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