ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Social media can feel like the Wild West for some parents when trying to talk about it with their children.
“There’s parts of Interstate 270 that are dangerous and scary, but it’s a part of life and we have to get used to it, it’s the same with social media, we have to help the kids prepare for anything that might happen down the road,” said Julie Smith.
Smith is an instructor in the Communications Department at Webster University. She emphasizes that the communication part is vital to addressing social media with your children.
“There’s always effects of what we post whether we realize it or not. It’s important to have those conversations with kids about that. What do you hope to achieve? What are you going to do if someone responds in certain way?” asked Smith. “You want to make sure the student or the child has planned out in their head the repercussions and how to respond to those. What are their coping mechanisms for if they have a negative experience?” Smith added.
Smith added it’s important for parents to educate their kids that they play an economic role even if they are sharing things on a free app.
“Do the kids understand that if they’re using a free app or website they are the product being sold. They’re not the customer, they’re making a lot of money for these platforms and sometimes losing their reputation in the process,” Smith said.
Just this week, two local districts responded after disturbing and controversial posts were made by students.
The Ladue School District posted a response to a post made by a student who was holding a sign that reads "Death to Amerika, Free Palestine”.
The district released a statement that said in part, "We are all for healthy discourse on sensitive and controversial subjects. However, social media too often takes "discussion" out of the equation and becomes a platform for messages that can be misunderstood at the very least and extremely hurtful and dangerous at their worst."
The district said it is continuing to address social issues with students.
Friday the Eureka School District called the post by two students "egregious". It showed two white Eureka students with black masks on and a caption that read, "n- word babies".
Districts across the country are trying to navigate how to deal with social media and address it in the classroom.
In Missouri a bill has been introduced in the House (HB 1402) by Representative Jim Murphy to study media literacy and how it could be implemented in the classroom.
Ironically at the same time, Ladue students released a public service announcement called 'With Just One Click' highlighting what can happen after a post online. Their spokeswoman said the students have been working on this project for awhile and the timing is coincidental.
Ladue’s full statement is below.
Schools have a delicate balance to maintain between allowing freedom of speech and fostering a learning environment that feels safe and respectful for all students. This is only fair and the only way learning can occur. Our first priority is the physical and emotional safety of all of our students. Those who say things that upset others, as well as those who are upset.
Ironically, our high school students just finished creating a PSA last week which they made out of concern for the misuse of social media not just in our district, but in districts across the country. As you will see, it focuses on the impact it can easily have on our students, staff and schools, and is entitled With Just One Click.
We are all for healthy discourse on sensitive and controversial subjects. However, social media too often takes “discussion” out of the equation and becomes a platform for messages that can be misunderstood at the very least and extremely hurtful and dangerous at their worst.
This is why we are actively partnering with our students to address this continuing social issue.