To friend or not to friend? That is the question. Or is it?
The truth is, like it or not, social media now plays a fundamental role in the way many human beings communicate. It is bigger than any social networking site alone and is used across the globe to share information, raise money, market products, and even fuel revolutions.
Ironically, even with all that power, it is also mundane. We use social media to tell our everyday stories.
However we use social media, it has become part of the fabric of human interaction. As educators we must ask ourselves, “What do I do with that?”
A just-released report, The State of the Media: The Social Media Report- Q3 2011 (Neilson), suggests that the use of social media is indeed growing. The following are some notable findings:
- In the U.S., social media networks and blogs reach nearly 80 percent of active U.S. Internet users and represent the majority of Americans’ time online.
- Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other U.S. website. In minutes, that’s more than 53 billion.
- The not-so-close second place goes to Blogger, with 723 million minutes spent.
- Mobile users also enjoy social networking apps. Among U.S. smartphone owners who download apps, social networking apps are the third most popular category.
According to CNET News, at the recent Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo disclosed the following information:
- Twitter now has 100 million active global users, half of whom log in every day.
- Twitter delivers almost 250,000 million tweets each day, up from 100 million at the beginning of the year.
Should you “friend” your students? That most likely depends on your school and your students. Facebook, though, has other spaces available that are safer havens for both teachers and students. Teachers are creating classroom Facebook groups where students can get online to discuss books, controversial political topics, economics, and math problems. Twitter is a great source for reporting history as it happens. Think Occupy Wall Street. Teachers are creating classroom Blogger sites where students can post their work in a public or private environment to get real-world feedback.
And that’s just the beginning.
So how should you use social media in your classroom? That’s the real question here. It’s a question that educators must ask themselves if they are to prepare their students become global citizens and to be successful in very social world around them.