Brrriiinnnggg! The school bell has rung (or was that more or less the ring of a wake-up call?), and it’s time for all the students to attend the next lesson: Social Media 101.

Social media has become a prominent part of everyday life, with 38% of the population spending their time on social media each day — that’s 23 million South African voices in the digisphere!

Although this is not as much as the general population worldwide (which adds up to a whopping 3.48 billion), that number is growing year-by-year, which is why it’s important for educators to start thinking about a potential gap in the South African curriculum (among others, let’s be honest) — and that gap is social media education.

Instead of keeping kids off social media during school hours, educators need to teach the youth how to use it!

Here are three reasons why it’s vital to bring social media into the classroom:

Reason #1: Social media prepares students for their future careers

Whether you’re in retail or running your own business, social media rears its head in nearly every aspect of the working world, which is why we need to prepare the youth for their future careers.

The South African youth have a lot more options in terms of what jobs they would like to pursue, and a career in social media is one of them!

Educators need to include new lessons in the curriculum that are in line with what these new technology-based careers might entail, such as:
  • Social media etiquette: This could be anything from how employees are meant to interact with colleagues on social media to what is appropriate to post at school as well as in the workplace.
  • Management and leadership: This lesson could also include the teaching of time management and organisational skills, including how to manage and keep track of a social media content calendar as well as how to use scheduling tools for social media platforms.
  • The history of social media: #KnowledgeIsPower and the only way to learn from past mistakes is to take a look at its history. This also holds true on social media
  • The different uses of social media platforms: It’s important for educators to teach students how to use all the platforms available to them so that they’re not limited in their knowledge and are prepared for any line of work that might involve one of these platforms.
  • Social media law: From knowing what precautions to take when reposting someone else’s images to sharing personal information about your workplace, there’s a lot to cover when it comes to teaching the laws of social media in South Africa — and a lot that students can learn.

Reason #2: Social media knowledge can prevent cyberbullying

When it comes to cyberbullying, South Africa ranks at number four worldwide. This is why it’s important to teach the youth about Internet safety in terms of preparing them for any form of cyberbullying.

With social media brought into schools, educators could teach students how to react when being attacked by someone online and the procedures to follow when seeing someone else being bullied.

Internet safety also teaches students how to prevent the spread of fake news as well as what constitutes a reliable source in the media.

For example, remember the recent #MoMoChallenge fiasco? How much of that could have been avoided if the youth were aware of fake news and knew to do their research when misinformation is spread?

If educators taught students the importance of doing research before trusting what they saw on social media, the spread of misinformation would likely decrease — and as a bonus, the students would gain valuable research skills that would help them with projects and assignments.

Reason #3: Social media teaches children valuable tech skills

Instead of dreaming about becoming a veterinarian or entrepreneur, many youths will now dream of becoming a social media influencer or even a social media manager.

These careers require a variety of tech skills, including:
  • Video editing
  • Photography basics (for mobile)
  • Social media tools (like Buffer or Tweetdeck)
  • Google Analytics
  • Content creation
  • Use of #hashtags and @handles
Learning these valuable skills will assist the young generations in their future careers — whether they opt for a career in social media or not.

What do you think? Is social media education vital in today’s day and age? Let us know in the comments section below.

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*Image courtesy of Vecteezy