As a fourth grade teacher, I am passionate about inspiring kids to be the best they can be. Even though fourth graders are 9-10 years old, you may (or may not) be surprised to know that many of them are already active on social media and online in general. It seems that each year there are even more students in my class than the prior year who are already active online, despite restrictions via the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that are designed to prevent kids under 13 from interacting on social media.
As an educator, I was also looking at social media options for a single application where I could efficiently communicate with my students’ parents. I wanted a way to post quickly, without it taking up too much of my time to set up reminders. I also didn’t want to bombard my parents with emails from me. I wanted a way to tell the story about what goes on in my classroom through photos with visibility being restricted to the group of parents for my class. Essentially, I needed a place to instantly communicate updates to our calendar, post photos of class moments and class newsletters, lunch menus, and other information important for parents to know. Privacy is critical because I needed to be able to communicate regularly – through one platform- to parents without the risk of others outside that group of parents seeing what is shared within the group.
At the beginning of this school year, I discovered Frienedy, which was the answer to each of my needs listed above. It’s a great single application that anyone can log into and share selectively with any groups in your life. I knew the parents in my class would appreciate logging into a place where they could keep up with everything going on in our class. It’s free for anyone to use, and it’s purely a way for me to communicate key information socially with the parents in my class. And, they can use Frienedy for their own families, sports teams, or any other groups they wish to set up.
But my reason for using Frienedy in my classroom is bigger than my own convenience and guaranteed privacy. In fact, my #digiwish for my 4th graders is this: I want parents to realize the importance of setting kids up for success online. Before unleashing kids to the adult content that makes up social media, my wish is that parents choose to set their children up with a Frienedy account in order to introduce their children to social media on THEIR terms and guide the online experience with visibility to coach them as they interact. My hope is that by using Frienedy in class and modeling positive digital citizenship, I am opening my parents’ eyes to a powerful tool they can use to interact privately in their own lives and introduce their children to social media via a safe, private platform when they feel the time is right.
Suzette Pfanstiel is a 4th grade teacher at Twin Chimneys Elementary School in the Fort Zumwalt School District in Missouri.
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