This week we focused on sharing online and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Just like almost everything else in life there is a good side a bad side and even an ugly side. When we talk about sharing online we have to consider so many different ways that we share. We can share personal information, work related information, information about out kids and information about our students. Just like Roxanne mentions, no matter what we are sharing, we always need to think about who is seeing the information and what will the effects of that share be? I will attempt to look at all sides and share my thoughts on all of this.
There are many ways that sharing online can be positive. I’ll start with sharing our personal lives online. For me personally I have decided to share most of my personal information on Facebook because I have my privacy set highest on that account. I also have a limited number of friends and family on the account having only 204 people on my friends list (many of which are family). Although I have always been cautious of who I add online this number used to be closer to 500. I would say that at least once a year I go back over my friends list and delete people I don’t feel as connected to anymore. I don’t want to share information about my life or my kids life with people who I consider to only be acquaintances. In order to decide who I keep online I ask myself if I saw that person in the mall from a distance would I make the effort to go and talk to them. If the answer is no I delete them, if it’s yes I keep them. This is my way of keeping myself comfortable with the information I am sharing with my Facebook community.
Amy discusses sharing information about her kids and mentions that she is mindful of what she is posting and I am the same way. Even though I feel like it’s my close family and friends on my friend list I am always wondering if my kids will want to see this in the future. I also ask myself is this something my family and friends would appreciate or find nice to see? If it’s a rant, or me complaining about something I refrain from posting because I’m sure people don’t want to see that. I like the ability to share milestones, celebrations and pictures with family and friends who aren’t able to see my kids on a regular basis as well. In my life this is a big positive for social media. While I like to share, I tried to avoid being a “sharent“.
In our classrooms sharing can be an awesome way to keep parents in the know, communicate with students and share our classroom activities and student progress. Kathy Cassidy from Moose Jaw, Sk shares how student blogging has helped her students in the classroom. When students share online it can make them more accountable and they may produce better work. Teachers are able to share resources with other teachers and collaborate to make better resources. We talked a lot about not reinventing the wheel and this is a great way for teachers to work together. There are a lot of different benefits of sharing student work online. I think it’s a great way for students to share work beyond the four walls of their classroom. I also like that when students share with a larger audience they feel their work has a bigger impact. When they receive valuable comment from others it gives even more meaning to their work.
While there are definite positives to sharing online, there are also negatives. As parents we can choose what we want to share about our kids, but we need to think about the long term digital footprints we are creating for our children. Sharenting can be a bad thing when we are sharing information that our children may be embarrassed by when they see it later. By sharing information about our kids we are creating their digital footprint. Do we have the right to create their online identity for them before they have any control over it? It is easy for us to post about our frustrations as parents thinking that we are only exposing information about our own lives when in fact we are exposing our children as well. We need to remember that digital footprints are like tattoos. When posting online about your students keep this video in mind.
The Peel School District provides some social media guidelines that I think are important in preventing the bad from taking over. One guideline that stood out for me was the professional boundaries. I know teachers who are friends with students on Facebook and I have never been too sure about that. I think that it could be very easy for conversations or posts to become unprofessional or though of as so. Social media does allow us to connect with one another but we need to make sure that our connections with students are professional. In these guidelines it also suggests when to share student work. The bad side of sharing student work could be that students aren’t happy with the product once it is shared and that will be on the internet forever.
Sometimes information we share can go from bad to ugly. This was the case with Amanda Todd, a young girl who took her own life after a shared photo of her lead to extreme bullying. There are many similar cases in which information shared on social media results in such negative things. Sharing publicly could also leave you more susceptible to identity fraud as is the case with Alec who has been dealing with the issue for a few years now.
What Do We Do?
So, what do we do? How do we ensure that our sharing online is a positive thing? We all need to be aware of our digital footprint and the digital footprint we are creating for others when we share. We need to teach students that anytime something is shared online it’s there forever. We need to take care of our digital footprint and be proactive about it because if we aren’t, then someone else will. We need to be mindful of what we are sharing and consider the lasting effects it will have. We also need to encourage people to share and have an online presence that is positive. I think a lot of people are afraid to share because we are worried about putting ourselves out there and worried about who will see it. The more we put ourselves out there and establish an online identity, the easier it will be to control it and prevent bad things from happening. The most important thing is to start teaching this from a very young age. Our students and children are growing up in a world where devices are used daily. They need to know what is appropriate and what is not and how to create a positive online identity.