With the introduction of Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope, live streaming is quickly becoming the norm. What does this mean for our students? This means that they are going to have access to raw unfiltered footage on social media. Yes, videos uploaded to these sites prior to going live were also able to be uploaded in their raw form, but what makes the live streams different is that there is no middle step of having to upload the video to a site for sharing. People can view events as they happen. When thinking about that from the perspective of a teacher or a parent, this can be scary. Here are a couple reasons why:
First, students have no time to reflect on a video they just captured.
Kids of all ages are looking for acceptance from the world around them. One way they feel accepted is by the number of likes, retweets, or comments they get on any given post to social media. This can make some kids forget the great lessons their parents taught them about their behavior in public. We have all heard the stories of seniors who lost scholarships or were refused into a college because of something they posted on social media.
Now with live streaming right to these sites, there is no chance a student who has just captured something they might regret on video will be able to second guess himself. Kids too often forget the old adage, “Once it is on the web, it is out there forever.” At least when students have that extra step of uploading the video there is a slight chance of them taking a look and having second thoughts before it goes up.
Another issue this brings up is that students are viewing graphic material without having someone to help them understand it.
The world is not always a safe place. We say look out for strangers, don’t go down a dark alley alone at 3:00am, and anything else we can think of to keep our kids safe. Now they are seeing crime, in many cases very brutal crime live streaming and replaying on social media. Again this is not a new thing, but for some reason it seems that live streaming has brought this problem to a whole new level. Within 2-3 days 3 separate videos of individuals being shot have streamed through Facebook Live.
From a social justice standpoint, I am glad these things are able to be caught on tape and put somewhere that is safe from deleting when it comes time for the courts to decide what happened and who was at fault. From the standpoint of a teacher or parent, this is unnerving. Who wants their child to watch someone else be shot? At least if I take my son to a movie where someone is shot, I am there to remind him that it is not real. When it is a real human who is really shot and really loses his life, that is a different matter.
Teachers and parents have to realize that this is the new normal. We will now be able to witness some horrific events live online. We have to make sure the children we are responsible for have someone to discuss these things with. They need to understand the implications and the context of what they are seeing. They need to know that we as adults don’t understand many of these heavy incidents ourselves, but we can work through the feelings of shock, anger, and sadness together.
I am not saying that I do not like the live streaming features on these sites. In fact, I was happy to watch Periscope during the ISTE 2016 conference. I am saying that we as teachers and/or parents really need to discuss these things with our children. They need to understand the possible ramifications that posting something can have on their futures. They need to know that someone is there to talk to them and help them make sense of the horrible things they are witnessing on these sites. Seeing bad things happen and making life altering mistakes are not new problems, but students are not mature enough for a lot of what is going on around them.
Students will use these types of technologies. The question is will we guide them in how to use these things appropriately, or will we let them try to figure it out on their own?