Umbrella: Young people’s access (or not) to social media (A5)

Emma Hadfield: Young people’s access (or not) to social media.
Thomas Rotherham College

This presentation focused around a piece of research Emma had carried out around the use of social media sites, such as Facebook, by young people.  She highlighted the fundamental opposition of the official advice from Ofsted which says:

“Pupils were more vulnerable overall when schools used locked down systems because they were not given enough opportunities to learn how to assess and manage risk for themselves” (Ofsted 2010)

Contrasted to the reality that 91% of the school and college libraries surveyed had restricted access to some or all of social media tools.  The most popular, Facebook and Twitter were blocked by 82% of those surveyed.  Only 63% of those surveyed had an e-safety policy.  Emma advocated setting up staff training on social media to increase knowledge and also interest.  This should be followed by regular and embedded E-safety training for staff and students and then internet restrictions can be relaxed.  This would give the library staff the opportunity to explain to students about privacy settings and profiles rather than simply ban the sites outright.

She also highlighted the importance of social media for lifelong learning skills and talked about how to minimise the problems from disruption etc.  The point was also made that restricting access also increases the digital divide for students who do not have internet access at home and therefore cannot take part in social networking and could be excluded from events and discussions.

Slides available on the CSG group site

Session A: Strand 5 (Digital inclusion and social change)

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