I TAUGHT MY STUDENTS THE DANGERS OF IRRESPONSIBLE SOCIAL MEDIA USE

A lot of things have been said about the young generation and their mentality, behaviour especially online. Even more so in recent days (because of the Amos Yee case).

Senseless. Shallow. Self-entitled. Stupid.

Today, I had a ‘social media’ debate and discussion in class.

“my account is private so I can post whatever I want online”

“no one will see/care what I post so it doesn’t matter”

“i can always say i was just joking”

“can simply delete whatever I post what”

These were a few of the things some of the boys shared.

Only.. they weren’t exactly right.

I then attempted to make them understand how everything they post online is permanent, there is no such thing as complete “privacy” online; someone will or can eventually view whatever they might have posted and it could escalate a lot faster than they think. What they post online “without giving it much thought” can be damaging – to someone they write mean things about or even to themselves if they post the wrong things.. and there are repercussions and consequences.

I told them I don’t ever want them to end up like Amos Yee.

I encouraged them to be the class that decides to be the better differnce in their generation. To be thoughtful and responsible; especially on social media where it has the unpredictable potential to impact or harm a lot faster than they think.

Some in the class understood. Some were still unconvinced.

They think that posting whatever on social media is not a problem at all because it won’t have such an impact the way I was “exaggerating” it to be.

So I challenged them.

I suggested we do a social media experiment together – that (if it works) this experiment will prove to them that whenever and whatever they post online, people ARE noticing and it can actually spread very fast.

I then asked them to give me a number of how many people they reckon will notice our social media experiment post. Some jokingly said 2, some said maybe a few thousand if we’re lucky.

But I was in no mood for jokes. I wanted to drive home a very strong, unforgettable lesson for them.

“What if I told you that the things you post online could end up being seen by up to 10,000 people overnight?”.

The class became quiet. They knew I was completely serious but were still skeptical of the impact and reach of social media.

“If that really happens then i’ll believe and behave,” one of the boys challenged back.

So I wrote this message on the board…

“Dear social media

I understand that whenever and whatever I post online will be permanent, may be helpful/hurtful and could even spread like wildfire and be seen by more than 10,000 people overnight (and if) so I will always be more thoughtful and careful with what I choose to post online.”

..and said to the class that if they choose to commit to this statement, if they choose not to be the next generation of insensitive trolls but to be part of the better, sensible difference.. they may sign their name.

90% of the class stepped forward choosing to be the better difference (for those of you following my instgram @mattzachliu you might have seen the picture of this exact moment that absolutely warmed my heart).

“If that really happens then i’ll believe and behave”

Dear you reading this, this is where I need your help to make a 100% difference with the students in this class.

If you’d like to join this cause of allowing our youths to truly understand the power, the reach, the impact and/or implications of social media, to always think twice before they post anything vulgar, insensitive, mean or degrading online.. all I ask is that you hit the “like” button.

If this really hits 10,000 overnight.. together, we’d be sharing a powerful lesson and encouraging our younger generation on social media to be better.

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