Principal’s Blog, 16th November 2018, Social Media

For this weeks blog, I will hand you over to Assistant Principal, Mr Whitney.

We live in an ever interconnected age where the effects of social media, both positive and negative, are still being discovered and understood.  The positive impact of the #metoo campaign cannot be underestimated; it is difficult to see it having gathered the same momentum and having the needed impact that it did without social media.  They are a far quicker way for sharing ideas and finding out new things than we have ever had before.

At the same time a 2017 study https://childmind.org/article/is-social-media-use-causing-depression/ showed that teenagers who were the biggest users of social media platforms had up to a 66% higher rate of reported depression than those who spent the least time using them.  The suicide rate amongst American boys has increased by 20% and for girls by 75% since smart phones have become commonplace.

Gaming can be just as addictive as social media, just look at the success of Fortnite; able to make over a billion dollars in a year, despite being free to download and play. Worryingly a recent NSPCC survey found 20% of children who played the game had been approached by strangers to do something inappropriate. Game companies can now even attend seminars where they are given advice on how to make their games addictive and change the way people think.

As an Academy we are often dealing with incidents that happen outside of school time involving social media exchanges and misinterpretation of information, but fear of missing out can mean that it is difficult for people to put it to one side.  With the occurrence of these issues greatly increasing after 7.30pm, we are looking to develop an integrated approach with parents, students and other stakeholders to reduce these incidents.  This has begun with a survey to parents of students in Years 7 and 8.

In the meantime, you might find the following a useful source of information and advice about social media https://www.familyeducation.com/fun/mobile-apps/safety-beyond-facebook-12-social-media-apps-every-parent-should-know-about

The knee jerk reaction would be to ban everything, but then the good goes away with the bad.  We use applications to support our students’ learning and revision and we would not want them shut away from all that this interconnectedness has to offer.  Instead we need to look to teach our children how to use apps and games appropriately.  To recognise their behaviours and to know how to deal with them, to still show the empathy and understanding that they would if they were face to face with someone, to be wary of echo chambers that gradually lead them further into the darkness.

Prince William gave a speech on Thursday to technology companies about some of these issues and challenged them to give us ways to “fight back”.  But no matter what tools they may provide, the greatest opportunity to shape and control the future of social media is by providing the support and challenge to the future users, our students; your children.

Mr S Whitney

Assistant Principal

Key Stage 3, Transition and Standards