The use of social media over the last 5 years has become so widespread that many educators and lawmakers are considering whether social media deserves a place with math and geography school curriculums.
In New Jersey, Angel Fuentes has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would include social media as a core curriculum subject for students in sixth through eighth grade.
Fuentes’ proposed social media curriculum would teach students the purpose and acceptable usage of the varying platforms of social media, behavior that ensures cyber safety, ethics, and security on social media, and also the potentially negative consequences of social media; such as bullying or irresponsible usage of social media platforms.
Legislation like this demonstrates how much of an impact social media has made in business. Many consultants and marketing experts emphasize that social media skills are important for success and that this medium is here to stay.
As Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube continue to gain popularity and new platforms develop, it is not unreasonable to argue that students who are not adept at navigating social media tools may be left behind.
As Fuentes explained in a related press release, “I find this legislation to be highly important, not only because of changing technology, but because of our growing dependency on social media usage.”
“Technology is dynamic, it is essential to keep up. Understanding how to safely and effectively navigate the many captivating social media platforms is a necessity,” he added.
The other more obvious argument is that students will use social media regardless of whether it is part of classroom activities, so why not teach them how to use if safely and to its fullest potential. As highlighted in an NBC News Education Nation article regarding social media in the classroom, “Time spent collaborating and learning is less time spent with the not-so-respectable elements the internet has to offer.”
As adults can attest, there is a lot to learn about social media and mistakes can haunt users for years to come. As Assemblyman Fuentes noted, “Once you put something on the internet, that’s it. That post will always exist, even if you delete it. One misuse of this medium as a teen could plague your adult life forever.”
If the bill is passed and signed into law, the new social media curriculum would be implemented in New Jersey at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year as a part of the Core Curriculum Content Standards in Technology. While this bill may still be ahead of its time, the power of social media will likely only continue to grow. Therefore, the question is not if, but when, social media becomes a required part of the core curriculum across the country.