The launch this fall of The Digital Hallway is good news for parents, teachers and high school students. The Digital Hallway is the brainchild of B.C.’s That Social Media Guy, Sean Smith. It is a program that teaches parents, teachers and teens about social media. Not just the bad, scary side of social, but the good as well.
According to Smith, there is a cycle when it comes to social media, students and schools. It goes something like this: “Something bad happens on social media, between kids or between kids and adults. Parents freak out and point the finger at the schools. Schools and school boards say that they are doing everything they can to prevent these things from happening and go into defensive mode. Experts are brought in to speak to the kids about online safety. Six months later, everyone has forgotten what happened and what the experts said. Then, something bad happens online and the cycle begins again.”
Smith designed The Digital Hallway to put an end to the cycle through a program that teaches kids the benefits of using social media and how to manage their online footprints. It is a program that teaches parents how to monitor their children’s social media and how to mentor and guide them in their social media use. It provides resources to teachers on using social media as a tool in the classroom.
Smith was inspired to create The Digital Hallway following a presentation he gave to a high school business class about social media. He noticed how interested the students were in what was possible with social media, outside of the purely social aspects, and how little they actually knew about how they could proactively use it to help them prepare for their futures. He started paying closer attention to how kids use social media and how it impacts their lives and slowly realized that many negative social media related issues were the result of teens not being taught how to use the tools properly.
Key to The Digital Hallway are parent and teacher Facebook Groups. These groups offer information and insights to help them navigate social media and build a better understanding of what kids are using online and how they are using it. Smith will host monthly live Q &A sessions in the groups to answer questions and share information.
For teachers, additional resources include presentations intended for classroom use. These will be regularly uploaded to the teachers Facebook Group and come with instructional videos on how and what to teach.
Says Smith, “We teach our teens to drive a car, because it is important for them to understand how to operate the car safely and follow the rules of the road. We know that a car can increase a teen’s freedom and ability to participate in the world around them, but we also know that unsafe use can hurt them and other people, so why are we don’t we them about safe and effective social media use? Digital Hallway does more than simply ‘teach kids to be safe online’. It helps learn to grow and be become better digital citizens.”
Vicki McLeod is an author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a business and personal coach and consultant. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or find her at www.vickimcleod.com. This article first appeared in the Maple Ridge News.