Whether social media should be taught in school has been an ongoing debate for years but with the internet penetrating half of the world’s population with over 2.5 billion social media users across the globe, the matter should already be resolved in the affirmative. What the academe should be focusing on instead is what has to be taught and how.
In fact, some schools have already incorporated social media into their curricula. The UK, for one, launched cybersecurity lessons for secondary pupils as early as 2014, which included topics on cryptography and malware. Some states and countries have also started proposing social media-related subjects, albeit a lot later than the UK. Illinois, for example, has just announced its anti-hate curriculum initiative while the Malaysian government is urging its schools to teach students how to filter news and information sourced from various social media platforms.
Cybersecurity, cyberbullying, and fake news are just some of the consequences brought about by the surge in internet usage. Politics and terrorism are also important points of discussion. Although disputable, it is safe to assume that not all users can be considered as smart users. The younger generation of users especially requires attention when it comes to using social media as they often neglect the repercussions of sharing information online.
The problem, regrettably, does not stop in sharing information but also in receiving one, with the internet being the main source of news and information for students. Long gone are the days where students have to depend on published books and printed materials for their written papers. Students now resort to internet resources to save both time and effort.
Given that, the burden now shifts to faculty members to ensure that students know how to gauge the quality of information that they gather from the internet. They have to learn where to go and what quality news look like, and that means directing them to reputable websites such as The New York Times, The Guardian, or The Wall Street Journal, to name a few.
But the “what” is just one aspect in a broad spectrum of probable issues to be addressed. As to “how” poses yet another challenge to the faculty members. Social media is always changing, which means lessons would also have to change, as well as the assignments, and the syllabi. In other words, the academe has to constantly catch up with the ever-changing landscape of social media to stay relevant and competent.
There are a lot of measures that the academe could take in order to stay updated on what they should teach and how to teach them accordingly. At the outset, its faculty members should be exposed to social media themselves and participate actively in online communities related to teaching social media as well as to engage with professionals who are adept in the industry.
The phenomenon that is social media is real and it is here to stay, at least for a long time. It has already been incorporated into the lives of its billions of users. Unfortunately, not everyone fully understands the impact of what they post and what it means to their professional and personal lives. Some schools and universities, even governments, have already acknowledged the benefits of teaching social media in the classroom and now is the time for the rest of the academe to follow suit.