They call us the internet generation or Generation Z. We’re a cohort born in the digital era; we’re a group of people who can’t live in a world without computers, cell phones, or iPods. It’s no wonder that the older generation always asks us for help with new technology. They are timid when it comes to experimenting with new gadgets. For example, it’s much less common to see an older gentleman with a cane Tweeting from his Samsung Galaxy than it is to see a kindergardener playing “Draw Something” on her iPad. Often times, parents or adults assume that their younger counterparts are much more apt to use gadgets like a GPS, smartphone or any other electronic device. While it may seem that youth have a pretty good grasp at using or learning how to use new devices, it most certainly is not innate.
From personal experience, the ins and outs of technology, especially the monstrosity that is the world wide web. On the internet, users are capable of doing millions of things, if they have the right know-how. Having grown up simultaneous to the technological advancements that developed exponentially, I felt overwhelmed more than anything. Stereotypes expected me to be good at sending e-mails, instant messages, or downloading music illegally. In reality though, I had to be taught.
In many schools throughout the United States, technology and even social media technologies have been introduced into the academic sphere as learning tools. Many people even say that social media use is a necessity for survival in the job market. That’s why some schools stress the importance of incorporating social media lessons to their curricula. Some high school teachers create Facebook pages or blogs for their students to upload comments or formal entries for their classmates to read. An elementary school teacher regularly uses YouTube to show her class educational videos or clips. At the New Milford High School in New Jersey, teachers even request that their students take out their cell phones to respond to in-class polls and quizzes.
Privacy is an important factor that educators consider when using partially public social media sites. There are many regulations and standards that teachers must follow when instructing students to use programs like Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress. Formally exposing children the responsible ways of using public sites as such is most beneficial when taught at a younger age. It’s almost inevitable that kids as young as 7 year-olds will have access to SMS, Twitter, and the internet in general, whether it’s on their own cell phone or their family computer. Therefore it’s extremely important to instruct them how to use media safely and responsibly. By warning students of the dangers of virtual public spaces as well as the benefits of them, they are more likely to make better decisions for themselves. At least, that’s the hope.