Does the Digital Classroom Increase Cyber-Bullying?
There’s no getting around it: Kids these days love social media. From Snapchat to Skype, young people are hanging out in cyberspace—often one step ahead of their parents’ supervision.
This connectivity has profoundly impacted the youth culture. Students interact online long after the school day has ended and often hangout on interactive broadcasting sites, such as YouNow, which are essentially chatrooms for the digital age. Digital technology has already taken over many aspects of children’s lives, which causes some to wonder: Is the classroom next?
As hard as some schools try to implement “smartphone-free zones,” students stay connected during class. This unprecedented flow of information has an upside, as students can communicate more efficiently. At the same time, instant access to mobile devices and social media sites have given rise to the phenomenon known as cyber-bullying, which can negatively impact a targeted student’s educational experience.
The realities of cyber-bullying cause some students, parents, teachers and administrators to resist the digital classroom. This is understandable. Why should schools allow students to use technology in the classroom when it’s already being perniciously used outside of the classroom? Why give classroom bullies another avenue of opportunity to cause pain?
These questions must be asked because they address the anxieties people have about youth’s relationship with digital technology. It should comfort these individuals to know that the right digital classroom solutions can, in actuality, control cyber-bullying.
How can we make the digital classroom a safe and productive learning environment? With digital classroom solutions like LiveTiles Mosaic, students can communicate on Yammer, a private social network. Unlike the social networking sites that students access outside of the classroom, Yammer is not an invitation for students to post whatever they want; it is moderated by a teacher or administrator. If classroom bullies use Yammer, the moderator will find out, and the inappropriate behavior will be appropriately handled.
Now, try to imagine the classroom experience without Yammer. It’s very likely that students will still secretly access social media on their smartphones, only this time without the teacher’s permission or moderation.
Yammer connects students to each other within the classroom setting, while controlling the amount of cyber-bullying that can occur. I don’t know about you, but I feel more comfortable with the digital classroom already.
Does this mean that the digital classroom will eradicate cyber-bullying as we know it? Not exactly. Kids will be kids, after all. However, the digital classroom has functions embedded within the software that allow teachers and administrators to track student activity. These functions ensure that cyber-bullying, at the very least, does not carry over into the digital classroom.
Today’s youth uses technology to communicate 24/7. Schools should consider meeting students where they are, in the digital environment, to increase their educational engagement. When building the digital classroom, it’s possible to benefit from the best aspects of digital technology and leave behind the worst.