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Rules of Engament for the young ones…

March 3, 2011

This last month I have been busy with teaching bright young minds about Social Media. One of the relaxing thoughts you experience when talking with students and/or pupils of 18 or younger is that they already understand the basics of Social Media. Of course most of them do not know the terminology, but they all know by heart the differences in applications and possibilities. They live Social Media, they grew up with it.

When I asked the first class, of the Secondary School I had to teach, when they started to use Social Media. They revealed that most of them where 8 or 9 when they started with their Social Network Profile. I found those numbers striking but not, as most of their teachers, upsetting. Truth to be told, what is upsetting, is that their has been not any educational guidance throughout those first years. Some, even more shocking, numbers: 37% of 5- to 7-year-olds has visited Facebook in the UK (source).

You can be sure they had  theory grounded talks on the subject, no lessons to master the skills of using your Social Profile safely. Although there are lessons on how to handle computers and software programs widely available and used, these ‘risky’ numbers obviously have not reached the government educational programmers.

Their should be a program of lessons build around the rules of engagement.  And I am of course not talking on how to use Social Media as company, although this could be related to a corporate code of conduct, like the Communications expert Charles Huijskens tries to introduce in his book Code Social Media (Sorry, only available in Dutch).Or better explained by Social Media Expert Brian Solis *. We should wake up the ‘older’ generation in charge of the national educational systems across the world and explain to them that we should do something about this lack of knowledge.

If you know anyone, who knows anyone in the government branch of education please send them a link to this post and/or get them in contact with me, I would love to share some ideas about who to solve this whole in the education of the ‘young ones’. And If you have your own ideas about what we can do, please let me know and comment on this post, so we can start a discussion that will help parents and teachers sleep at night 😉

An other interesting fact is that there is a Social Media shift building between the ages 12 and 18. The youngsters all use Hyves ( the biggest Dutch Social Media Network, until now) and the young adults, in 5th and 6th grade, all use Facebook. This shift is not build on a lack of knowledge by the youngsters but it had to do that all their peers still use Hyves. They know Facebook, but the #influencers have not acquired the tipping point needed to all convert from Hyves to Facebook. The gap between the ages becomes smaller though, as the group changing towards Facebook keeps getting younger. My educated guess is that the younger demographic will disappear totally from Hyves in the next two years. Why? Because two years ago 18 year olds all where still on Hyves.

*who is actually one of the three people in the world I would describe as Social Media Expert

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