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Teenagers can risk cyber-bullying with Vine, ask.fm sites

MADISON – New social media venues are posing hazards for cyber-bullying, a Liberty Middle School teacher advises.

Courtney Elrod, standing, teaches digital communication and drama at Liberty Middle School. (CONTRIBUTED)
Courtney Elrod, standing, teaches digital communication and drama at Liberty Middle School. (CONTRIBUTED)

Courtney Elrod advocates using social media and technology in her drama and digital communications classrooms when these tools complement the learning objective.

“My Dig. Com. students use social media daily,” she said. Students post school announcements and use Instagram to extend Liberty’s character education program. Drama students use social media as necessary.

A questionable trend, Vine, is a social network created by Twitter founders. “One can create and share short videos, comment, like and ‘re-vine’ videos (considered) amusing. The app is downloadable to SmartPhones,” Elrod said.

“Users can abuse Vine in ways for which it’s not intended. We all share responsibility in teaching our kids to be responsible, tech-savvy digital citizens,” Elrod said. Her Liberty students don’t use Vine, which she believes is better suited for adults.

Like Facebook, “Ask.fm users have a profile with a feed of questions that are asked/answered. Ask.fm has been on the news lately, because it’s the cyber-bullying hotspot, thanks to its optional anonymity feature,” Elrod said.

Elrod has asked her Liberty students to reevaluate Ask.fm. Is it causing more harm than good? For social media, they use the T-H-I-N-K acronym … Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind?

“Teenagers are cutting-edge when it comes to technology and social media. They want the latest and greatest,” Elrod said. Very few of Elrod’s students use Facebook. Currently, middle-schoolers are fans of Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and Kik for group messaging.

Elrod hopes parents vigilantly monitor their children’s use of cell phones and social media, although the process is time-consuming. “Letting them navigate through social media without guidance and accountability can have devastating consequences.”

Elrod suggests that parents educate themselves about a child’s online accounts. “Sign up for the sites yourself and set a positive example for your kids.”

When cyber-bullying occurs, the student should tell a parent or trusted adult. “The worst thing is for them to try to deal with it alone,” Elrod said.

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