A pilot scheme is currently being run in the UK by the office of the information commissioner to help pupils understand information rights, and teach them exactly what personal information is. Ensuring that they know how to deal with it appropriately and obtain the correct balance when it comes to the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
The initial phase ran with two schools here in the UK; the first in Shropshire and the second in Cambridge. The results have been positive from both, with the teachers involved commenting that whilst they thought they were doing a reasonable job of educating students about social media and using it responsibly, the lessons have revealed that there was much more they could be teaching within the curriculum.
The second pilot is now underway with more schools across the UK, teaching students to use social media safely, properly and giving out data appropriately.
Why is it essential to educate pupils on the use of Social Media?
I run numerous workshops with our clients, working with sales, HR and marketing teams to show them how they can use social as a tool to benefit their roles within the company. One of the common questions I face from ‘non-believers’ is usually along the lines of…
“Why should I bother setting up an account and putting myself out there, what if it goes wrong?”
The fact of the matter is that the internet is something you can no longer ignore. If you do you are taking a much larger risk. I can almost guarantee that whenever your name is mentioned to a potential employer, client or business partner the first thing they’ll now do is to turn to Google to get a better understanding of who they’re dealing with. This is likely to include researching your personal Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, or even your personal website.
If you decide to ignore this then you have absolutely no control of how the listings appear for your name. It may be friends uploading inappropriate photos of you on Facebook from that last night out, and without having a Facebook account you’re unable to determine the visibility of these photos. They’re out there for anyone to view and share.
Or it could even be someone who shares your name, but definitely not an individual you’d like to be associated with. If a potential employer has never met you face to face, what is to stop them assuming you are the same person at a first glance.
The only saving grace you have is that Google or Facebook haven’t been around forever. For children born today however, their entire lives digitally documented, from the first baby scans uploaded on their parents Facebook profiles, right up to their 18th Birthday surprise party video sitting on YouTube.
For that reason it is essential that school pupils today understand the importance of information rights and how to successfully control the balance of their personal information digitally. Ultimately, they need the tools to protect their identity, so that they can portray how they want to be seen through social media.