Tuscarora IU 11: Bridging the Social Media Divide Between Parents and Children

 By middle school, nearly 50 percent of children are on social media sites, and 22 percent have social media accounts that their parents don’t know about.

Many adults might not have even heard of some of today’s popular social media sites -- Facebook, Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, and Kik -- but Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 recognized that students and their parents need to understand the hazards of social media, including the consequences of inappropriate behavior and the dangers of predators. In collaboration with its local school districts, TIU 11 created an all-day Internet Safety and Awareness outreach program geared towards elementary, middle and high school students.

Throughout the school day, TIU 11 staffers lead workshops where groups of students answer a variety of questions about their online behaviors. The system uses online “clickers” to collect responses and gather data anonymously. For instance, in one group, 60 percent of students reported they had sent out a selfie on social media sites, and 14 percent had arranged to meet an online friend in person. The results are then shared with the students as starting points for discussion.

“The whole idea is to gain some perspective of how they answered those questions, and then we go in depth with some of the safety concerns related to the question itself,” said Jigar Patel, Instructional Media and Communications Specialist at Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11, who leads the sessions with Instructional Technology Specialist Eric Yoder

During the evening, the TIU holds another session, where parents hear the data and discuss the results from their perspective. The parent session was designed to give parents an idea of how their kids are using social media. It also provides them with information to start a conversation about internet safety and awareness with their kids.  

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