I did research on this very topic for my master’s degree. It seems that students are using technology to subversively attack each other in cyberspace. And it has some very destructive and potentially permanently damaging results.
However — despite their potential for misuse — it would be a mistake to dismiss social platforms out of hand.
I recently created a twitter account. (@molinski1126) This is one I use strictly for professional reasons — for example following the Marquette College of Education — and honestly, it is not something I frequently engage in. However, it has also provided a way for me to respond to students in another medium. Coincidentally, I follow some staff members at my school, the official school twitter account, and other various groups.
I learned something novel and interesting when I created this twitter account. There is a group called OCHS compliments (@_occompliments) dedicated to giving out compliments. I’m not sure if this is something only this group does or if they got the idea from someone else, but it is a great idea.
There are several things that make this twitter account very positive. First – the compliments are genuine. There is abolutly nothing insincere about the tweets they send out. I asked a student on student council who I suspect is one of the contributors. He claimed not to know who it was. Secondaly, it must be student driven, because they have a lot of insider knowledge into the things students are doing in and out of school. In addition, the compliments do not have any connection to any specific “social” group within the school. They literally compliment anyone and everyone that they can – recognizing someone’s birthday or a nice victory in a track meet. It has taken the power of social media and used it for something very positive, and it has done it in a way that a large majority of the students have access to.
So I want to give a shout-out to this group on twitter and encourage more groups like it. Maybe a student council or other group can create this sort of positive experience in your school. It might just be one of those things that some students need to help them out and it is an example of the positive side of the social media realm.