Sometimes it’s spit out like a curse: “Blame it on social media.” But there really are some good points to texting, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Let’s take a look at eight good uses of social media.
1. Finding old friends. My first students knew me as “Miss Chan.” Not long after my husband and I married, we moved to Washington. I figured my first students wouldn’t remember my married name, so I wouldn’t hear from them again. I don’t know how the first one found me on Facebook, but soon an avalanche of friend requests arrived from her classmates. I was as taken aback to see them with spouses and children as they were to realize I was only 22 when I taught them. High school friends, college buddies, parents of both (and of old boyfriends)–almost everybody is out there somewhere, and if they’re not, you can be sure one of their family members is!
2. Keeping tabs on family. When my children were in college, I’d use Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to know what was going on in their lives–not just so I knew when to be concerned, but also because it gave me a starting point for conversation: “Who were you talking about in that tweet?” Facebook now helps me keep tabs on my aging mom, because when I see her like someone’s post, I know she’s up and moving.
3. Sending short messages. Whose day hasn’t been made by a text or a message saying, “I’m thinking about you; have a great day”? This is a great way for parents of teens to communicate their love without causing embarrassment. If it’s a good day, you’ll even get a “Luv u 2” text in return!
4. Sharing pictures. While we may tire of selfies and food pics, some pictures can be worth far more than 1000 (typed) words. When my math students need help, they send me a picture of the offending story problem along with what they’ve already tried, and I know where to start my tutorial. When my mom has an error message on her iPad, she texts my son a “screenshot” (taken with her phone), and he knows how to help. Every year I have 8th grade girls text me photos of their outfits, asking if they’re within dress code (though I usually tell them if they have to ask, it probably isn’t).
5. Creating peace of mind. In my family, we text somebody when we arrive home safely. Again, this is a great way to keep track of my aging mom as well as my sons, the twenty-somethings. When they were in high school, I told my boys I didn’t care where they went (an untruth), but if they didn’t make it home, I needed their last known whereabouts so I’d know where to start my search.
6. Making appointments. I love scheduling medical appointments online. I also schedule parent conferences by emailing the first draft of my schedule to parents and letting them request changes as needed. Parents will text me midday and ask to meet after school. And sometimes my husband and I will plan a last-minute dinner date after work!
7. Finding important–and not-so-important–information. When my husband and I wanted to install an auxiliary port in our new used car, I went to YouTube and learned how. When I needed lesson plans to teach physical science, I went to Pinterest. There’s a whole community of friendly strangers at your fingertips, just waiting to give you advice.
8. Knowing when to pray. In the “old days” (think the year 2000), having an email prayer list was an awesome invention. Now, with a single post I can set in motion a prayer chain of hundreds, some of whom I’ll never even know. There’s great comfort in knowing so many prayers are being lifted so quickly. On the flip side, when one of my friends or students needs my prayers, I hear right away. It’s not unusual for a student to contact me on Facebook with a message: “My grandma’s in the hospital; can you pray?”
Social media has its limitations, and we all need to use it with discretion, but it can simplify our lives in many ways. Today’s teens won’t remember life without it, so it’s our responsibility to teach them how and when to use it appropriately.
Want some tips on how to do that? Check it out on Pinterest.