Social-media sites a danger in schools

2018-03-06 06:00
PHOTOs: suppliedThe St Benedict School management team (from left) Sean Topper, head of the high school; Dr Barbara Bowley, principal; and Gillian Rayner, head of the primary school, spoke to pupils on the dangers of social-media sites.

PHOTOs: suppliedThe St Benedict School management team (from left) Sean Topper, head of the high school; Dr Barbara Bowley, principal; and Gillian Rayner, head of the primary school, spoke to pupils on the dangers of social-media sites.

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SOCIAL-MEDIA sites have taken over the lives of many youngsters. Before the Internet was developed, people used to rely on books, newspapers, radio and television as a way of obtaining information.

Nowadays, many rely on social-media sites to get and share information. Social-media sites are also trending in schools. There have been a number of incidents where a pupil posts a video or a picture of another pupil without his or her consent.

Much of the information shared is explicit and inappropriate to be viewed by the public.

A Fever reporter did research on the dangers of social-media sites in schools and whether it is a crime to post a picture or a video of a person without that person’s consent.

St Benedict School principal D Barbara Bowley said social-media bullying is affecting and destroying many lives.

“Pupils’ worlds are and can be destroyed via social media. Physical bullying has a reprieve time when one is way from the bully, but social media bullying is constant; one never escapes it.

“Victims, be it from others posting articles of them on the net, or by the victims posting pictures of themselves on the net, have a torrid time when something goes wrong. It cannot be taken back. It is in print and distributed so quickly. A simple, innocent prank can destroy a pupils life.

“Pupils’ self-image is often affected by social-media posts. Pupils only post pictures of themselves doing fun, exciting things, and thus a world is created where pupils are not being true to themselves but are constantly comparing and trying to better other posts. Validation of who they are ends up coming from a social-media post and how many ‘likes’ they receive. This creates an embellished world and pupils start to develop a false sense of self.”

She said social-media sites can be a danger. “The children we teach are so conscious of social media and the importance of feeling wanted and accepted, judging by the number of friends or followers on social-media sites. The sad reality is that they have no idea of the dangers. When we encounter incidents at school, the first words from the pupil is always, ‘I really didn’t know that could happen’.

“So while they are incredibly socially savvy, their reality of the big world is limited. They think by hiding behind a device they are safe, but do not understand how quickly things can spread in the social-media world.

“Social media can be all-consuming. Time is a valuable commodity. Many pupils spend many hours wasting time on interacting on a superficial level with people who can give very little back in return.

“Pupils lose focus of the value of connecting and communicating effectively with the real world.”

She advised pupils to think twice before posting anything on social-media sites.

“Think twice before posting anything; ask for advice from teachers, parents. Refrain from entering into debates and commenting on controversial posts.”

Pinetown SAPS spokesperson Captain Mbatha said: “If a photo that is being published contravenes the Film and Publications Act and / or sexual offences Act, a person can be charged.

“Pupils are advised to steer away from any criminal activities and not expose themselves to any dangerous situations, whether on social media or otherwise,” Mbatha said.


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