As we continue our Coding@Schools journey to reach 6,000 kids, we still find it challenging to keep the children engaged after the camps through our social media platforms. The Facebook group stands at a mere 1,900 likes and there is no real way of separating the observers from the participants.
We strive to empower the community to grow organically. These are the constraints we have identified :
Which thus brings us to the bigger question of whether its our expectations that are mismatched with the reality of our environment. Is there a way we can work around this? Are we ahead of our time? Balancing all the different pieces of the puzzle especially in a fluid terrain like Asia sometimes does make one feel like a tightrope walker!
3 sides to a coin?
As a parent I can relate to this-any activity that would require my 10-12 year old to engage on social media actively requires a great deal open mindedness and bravery-especially in rural Asia. One almost feels that without restrictions, your child will slip away from you into dangers that lurk at every corner of the internet. The competitive educational environment where academic excellence generally takes precedence over extra curricular activities (which our program is positioned as) is definitely another factor.
At the same time you have the kids on the other side who are eager to participate and want to explore more as “oh Coding@Schools is FUN” and can’t wait to lay their hands on the latest mobile device and to swim in the river of unlimited data!.
Then you have the teachers-wanting to do their best to extend exposure to the kids while at the same time staying within the rules and regulations imposed by the powers that be.
How do we get these 3 sides to be on the same page in a comfortable and safe environment?
Some research into this area may shed some light. In their research paper “Using Social Media to Improve a Parent-School Relationship” (http://ijiet.org/papers/157-T072.pdf), Aunchalee Chairatchatakul, Prapaporn Jantaburom, and Wanida Kanarkard in their study done in 2012 in Thailand, suggest that schools should educate parents on the use of social netwoking sites and that this goes beyond technology as it is more about connecting and sharing with others using technology as a medium. I think this study shows that such education builds trust between schools and parents and helps them to be on the same page. I personally think there are valuable lessons from this study that we can take away and apply to our efforts. Some of the key takeaways are :
What about us?
What do the students feel about all this? Do they feel that this increased interaction on social media between parents and the school is an intrusion on their privacy? Or do the parents feel that it is their privilege to monitor their teens?
In the study entitled “Parents, Teens and Digital Monitoring” by Monica Anderson at the Pew Research Centre sheds some light on this. The survey found that today’s parents “take a wide range of actions to monitor their teen’s online lives and to encourage their child to use technology in an appropriate and responsible manner”. The main findings of this survey are :
Perhaps the feature article Parents: Watch those social media posts (Kirsten Weir, APA Monitor, July/Aug 2017, Vol 48, No 7) best provides a conclusion to this conundrum by questioning that while parents worry about their children’s usage of social media, “parents should also think harder about their own online habits-especially when it comes to their children’s privacy”.
So I leave you with no clear answer to this conundrum but with some food for thought to think about as parents, children and educators. What is clear though is that clear communication and education may just be key to unlock this.
Aunchalee Chairatchatakul, Prapaporn Jantaburom, and Wanida Kanarkard ‘Using Social Media to Improve a Parent-School Relationship’ International Journal of Information and Education Technology, Vol. 2, No. 4, August 2012
Monica Anderson, ‘Parents, Teens and Digital Monitoring’, Pew Research Centre, Jan 2016. http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/01/07/parents-teens-and-digital-monitoring/
Kirsten Wier, ‘Parents : Watch those Social Media Posts’, APA Monitor, July/Aug 2017, Vol 48, No 7.(http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/07-08/social-media.aspx)