Parents are heading back to high school to get schooled on social media. Millard North is the latest to join the movement.
Know what a tweet or hashtag is? One hundred and forty characters at a time, your standard, run-of-the-mill high school feuds are becoming much bigger battles, sometimes spilling over into the classroom.
The administration says it’s tired of playing Twitter police that they don't have the time or resources to put out all the fires irresponsible tweets have sparked between students. They're hoping parents are prepared to start tapping into a wider range of social media platforms.
"A lot of times, when I make a phone call home, we'll get a response, 'well, I monitor Facebook. I guess I wasn't aware that they were on Twitter and so I've had conversations with parents over the phone, creating an account, finding their kid on Twitter and monitor their students on Twitter,” says Millard North assistant principal Casey Lundgren, who sees parents waiting for it to go away and obviously that's not going to happen.
A similar event called Twitter 101 was held last week at Platteview High School in Springfield where teacher Jodie Morgenson says learning social media today is like learning to speak another language teens know fluently.
Many parents came in overwhelmed by how quickly social media is changing. Others are worried about embarrassing their children by getting on board, but Morgenson says, navigating the Twittersphere is an important step in relating to her students and even her own daughter, who's now in college.
"I use Twitter and Facebook to kind of gauge how things are going for her and I think the main thing is, don't like or favorite everything that your kids say. Don't respond to everything, but it's okay to take a peek into their lives. You can use it in social interaction, entertainment, learning, to promote small business."
"That's what we want to communicate to students, it's not just a place to gossip or respond to a dramatic situation in your life," says Lundgren. "It can be a tool and that it can help empower you and create opportunities for you."
“We ask our parents to police their kids on social media," says Platteview principal Angela Simpson. "We want to make sure they have the tools to understand the various components that social media offers."
Just as many older generations start to master Facebook, we know teens are turning away from it and are now active on multiple platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr. The best bet for parents is to try them all out. Instead of merely following your own kids, use it to connect with peers and begin to really understand the ways kids use and enjoy these outlets.
The meeting for parents will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Millard North auditorium (South 144th and Pacific) and should last about an hour.
“Parents have to start treating it like any other social setting,” says Lundgren. “Parents take the time to teach their kids how to behave in a restaurant and at somebody elses house and that sort of thing, but parents don't necessarily always take the time to teach their kids how to behave in a social media setting."