What We’re Reading: Media Literacy in the Classroom, Facebook vs. Snapchat, Case of the High School Hackers

Feb 7, 2014 2:30 PM ET

Trend Micro Internet Safety for Kids and Families Blog

Week of January 27, 2014

To help you keep up with what’s going on with kids, families, schools, and technology, we’ve compiled a list of stories, tips, and insights, we’ve found most useful over the past week.  What have you been reading? Tell us below or Tweet @TrendISKF.

TWITTER IN SCHOOL: A teacher at a Milwaukee school is gaining notoriety for encouraging Twitter use in the classroom. Chris Lazarski , who teaches public policy, joined a national San Francisco-based program that encourages kids to tweet their reactions to current events. Lazarski says with proper oversight, students learn an important lesson on how to use Twitter for research and communication.  An incredible way to promote media literacy in our schools!

TEACHER’S PLEA GOES VIRAL: A Scotland teacher who wanted to show her young students how widely a photo can spread on Facebook, posted her photo with a handwritten plea on Jan. 13th.  It has since been shared more than 163,000 times on Facebook alone and viewed in 90 countries. Additionally, she’s experienced victimization by internet trolls and someone set up a fake account with her likeness. The teacher said this has been a valuable lesson as many of her students were not aware of variety of privacy settings  on Facebook and how easily their information could be viewed by the public.  Another great way to teach media literacy and promote online safety and privacy in school.

FACEBOOK VS. SNAPCHAT: It appears Facebook see Snapchat as a real threat, especially after the former tried and failed to buy the latter.  Snapchat is the first app that does not rely heavily on Facebook’s community for any reason.  And it did something first that really appealed to people: make the photos disappear. It will be interesting to watch how these companies will continue to evolve overtime to remain competitive: Snapchat to maintain its uniqueness, and Facebook to copy them.  There are already new arrivals to join the fight, including last month’s launch of Confide, the messaging app that lets your texts disappear.  I think whoever does best to never lose sight of the customer experience will always win, and among youth, this means creating something apps and features that meet some emotional need.  This is the reason Snapchat became so popular, not because it was an anti-Facebook option.

HIGH-SCHOOL HACKERS EXPELLED: Students at a prestigious high school in Southern California have been expelled for hacking teachers’ computers to change their grades and steal tests.  They had help from an adult tutor, but aside from the story of why these students felt compelled to act in this way, possibly because of extreme academic pressure, this story highlights two other things for me.  One is that kids are quite capable of hacking although we should strongly discourage this and help them understand it is morally, ethically, and legally wrong to do it.  Second, we should always question the security of systems in our schools, especially since our children’s data is increasingly being stored and transported through these systems.

See you next week!