Too much freedom?

Social media monitoring at schools

07 May 2019 | Education

Michelline Nawatises

Pull quote: “Why should we take our phones along to school in the first place?” – Armando Garobeb

Today’s social media obsessed youth are facing a unique set of problems, which are amplified by technological advancements.

Issues that students face today are not necessarily caused by social media, but are quickly exacerbated by easy access to the internet, and can certainly be detected online.

Some of these issues include cyberbullying, acts of violence in the classroom and increasing depression and suicide rates.

Social media is becoming a problem within high schools, as learners do as they please with their mobile devices, although they are prohibited from bringing phones to schools. Recently, a lap dance video, purportedly emanating from Dawid Bezuidenhout High School, went viral.

Khomas education director Gerard Vries said such cases are serious and should be dealt with accordingly and should not be taken lightly. It is a well-known fact that there is a lack of gatekeeping when it comes to the use of mobile devices in schools.

Several schools are seeking out new and innovative ways of preventing online violence or even cyberbullying amongst learners. It is a fact that many high school learners and tertiary institution students today are active on social media.

Additionally, The Zone spoke to Johanna Iipumbu, a student from the International University of Management (IUM), about whether the ministry of education should invest more in purchasing technology to monitor what learners and students are busy with on their devices during school hours, without invading their privacy.

She mentioned that it would be of tremendous help.

“It would be great if we can hold hands and come up with different suggestions to put a stop to unnecessary issues; we would all like our institutions to be our safe haven,” she said.

A student from the University of Namibia (Unam), who chose to remain anonymous, also gave his two cents.

“It is inappropriate for administrators within schools to assert their authority over us on what we do on the internet; they should just find a way to deal with this problem without invading our privacy,” he stressed.

Armando Garobeb, a grade 8 learner from Khomas High School, added that schools that attempt to monitor what learners are doing on their phones are of great help.

“I have seen cases where my fellow learners share silly jokes in class, while they should be focusing; this is the true reason why we perform poorly academically,” he said.

Social media platforms can be an advantage and disadvantage, simultaneously. What an individual puts on their social media is of importance, as it can hurt their standing in their school, as many people have suffered because of posts.

Suggestions to monitor the use of social media:

1.Develop a culture of awareness and support

It is vital that schools discuss these challenges openly. Students and learners should be encouraged to talk about their concerns.

2.Parental education

Educating parents is a component of being active to try and control social media problems.

3.Parents should know their children’s usernames and passwords

This might sound very harsh! Parents do not need to be on their kids’ necks whenever they use social media, but they should have a hold on it, now and then.

4.Provide a more effective way for students to report issues

Students need to know who they can turn to when they feel vulnerable, or are victims.

5.Define consequences

They should be aware of the trouble they’ll face if they violate the rules, including the loss of privileges.

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