Jan 18

Social Media Helps with Homework

I realize that the title alone is somewhat controversial. Now that we all spend hours upon hours with our Facebook, Twitter, and blog worlds open on our screens, iPads, iPods, or phones, it is hard to argue that we might have better relationships with our screens than anyone with flesh. However, this past week I had my eyes opened to the amazing advantage that all of this screen time can have for students with the right connections in social media.

Let me explain.

The girl’s English class is currently reading and discussing the famed Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

An aside: I am shocked that they have not read 1984 first as I did.  Mrs. Fischer’s order of reading books is the right way to read books. I can guarantee that all of my high school friends would agree with me on this one. We read 1984 first; all of education world should do so as well.  Sorry…digression!

Back to the girl: over the weekend, she had an assignment to find a non-fiction article with content related to Brave New World.  She had no problem with that thanks to my Twitter relationship with the Fargo Forum. Earlier in the week, because the huz and the boy were out of town leaving us to fend for ourselves, the girl and I had eaten dinner at a restaurant. During that time, I had checked on Twitter and found an article about sex education standards through the Fargo Forum’s feed. I went to the link and read excerpts of it to the girl who shared my outrage by saying, “Mom – it is just like in Brave New World.”  Two days later, she came home with the assignment mentioned above, and she asked me for the link to the entire article.

Regardless of how we feel about students reading Brave New World, how we feel about sex education standards, or how we feel about the overuse of social media, we cannot argue that my Twitter connection saved the girl hours of hunting on the internet for the perfect article for her assignment. We do not need to revisit the horrors and evils of the internet; that is someone else’s article. When used responsibly, Facebook and Twitter can be great connections as evidences by the example shared here. In addition to helping with homework, they can be great ways to find rides to pick up our car at the repair shop, costumes for a musical, and helpers with a volunteer event.  Yes – all of these have been used by yours truly.  Additionally, they can be great ways to promote products or events. What other venue allows me to touch over 700 people who might retweet to their 700 friends?

Before I sound like an internet use extremist, I want to be clear about how I view it.  Do I think that parents should look over their children’s shoulders, put website tracking stuff on the computers, and invade their privacy?  Yes! In fact, I think a “no privacy” rule should be enforced. No one under 18 is allowed to have a cell phone contract; that contract is in their parents’ names – that means that parents are responsible for all texting, etc., that their children do. Invade away! No one under 18 is allowed to purchase internet connections; that connection is in their parents’ names – that means that parents are responsible to know and monitor what is going on through that connection.  Invade away!

As in most issues that we face, the problem is not the technology itself but rather the ways that we have trained ourselves and the younger generation to use it.  Last week, I was reminded again that technology is a valuable tool.  And my Twitter connections are mighty useful!  Thanks, Fargo Forum,  for helping out with my daughter’s homework.

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