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Tom Hesmondhalgh

5 Reasons Not to Ban Social Networking in Schools


e-learning isn't working...With an understandable concern about preventing cyber-bullying some schools and local authorities take the nuclear option when it comes to social networking and ban those sites wholesale.

I’m tweeting to the choir here – but here are 5 reasons why social networking sites, whether they be open or closed, have a valid and important contribution to make to teaching.


1) Banning Social Networking At School Won’t Stop Cyber-Bullying

If anything it will move it from an environment which you at least some control and visibility to one where you have none whatsoever.

2) Children Need to Learn How to Use Social Media Safely

Just as importantly, children need to be taught how to use social media safely and securely, and they can’t do this in a vacuum. In the modern age securing your identity online and understanding the consequences of what you share can have massive consequences that they need to be prepared for.

3) Anyway, What is a Social Networking Site These Days?

If a social networking site is one where you have a profile, can mark a social connection and communicate with those people – well it seems like half the web is covered. It’s not exactly clear what’s so less dangerous about writing – say – abusive comments on a blog post as opposed to writing it on their Facebook wall.

4) Social Media is Great for Creating and Sharing Content

Some of the most valuable comes not from the teacher, but from between the students themselves. Social networking provides the platform to revolutionise that pupil-pupil communication – whether it be for sharing content they’ve created, feeding back or something more unstructured and free flowing than that. Removing that tool restricts their possibilities.

5) Social Media Tools are Powerful – and Free

A number of studies, like this one, have proved the positive benefits that use of social media can have as part of a teacher’s toolkit. If you had a powerful, free suite of tools that could raise engagement and and achievement that is surely something to be celebrated?

  • Jane

    We ban social networking in our school because it is too much of a distraction when they should be doing work. We manage quite well to teach about esafety and cyber bullying without it as all pupils know what it is.

    • Tom Hesmondhalgh

      That’s fair enough. Do you think there’s an educational case for students being able to access those kinds of tools?

  • An interesting topic and blog Tom. I agree with the comment from Jane, that it can be distractive. But I wonder if that is because it is new and exciting? It is not possible to effectively “teach” esafety without using the very tools that cause the concern. Forgive the flippant comment, but it is akin to teaching someone how to drive by watching a video. Social media is great for the very reasons you state – and more, and schools need to embrace the technology and fully engage the students.

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