Social media escalates student conflict, educators say - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Social media escalates student conflict, educators say

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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

Gone are the days of passing notes and waiting to talk to your friends in the halls. Nowadays students have it all right at their fingertips, literally.

Last week, Quincy Senior High celebrated good student behavior. But, principal Danielle Edgar says she cannot ignore the big impact social media is having on students.

(See "Quincy Senior High says bad behavior is dropping")

Edgar says texting and social media in general is at the root of a lot of student conflicts.

"Probably about 50 percent of the conflicts that occur here at Quincy High School originate through social media, or they're escalated via social media," said Edgar.

Edgar says many teachers and administrators are not completely familiar with social media and it's impact, so they go through training and help each other understand the root of the issues and how to deal with them.

One QHS teacher says, for most teens, their phone is their entire world. And they've grown up used to constant social networking with Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. And Ryan Wiemelt says that makes it crucial for him and his fellow teachers to understand.

"For a lot of these students, teenagers, social media is more important than education. It's more important than a lot of other things in their life whether it's academics, or whether it's extracurricular activities," said Wiemelt.

Edgar says they combat that by talking to students about its positive uses, as well as the complexities of how what they post, can impact them in their future.

She says teachers are doing well educating each other on social media. And, trying to make the students understand the benefits and dangers it can bring.

Rather than finding a mean message about someone on the bathroom wall, someone is posting it on Facebook for all to see. Student arguments are no longer "private".

So do you remember a time before social media? Chances are, your high schooler doesn't.

QHS Senior Alison Groves has had Facebook all of her high school career. Before that, she had MySpace.

These students have grown up with cell phones and social media. Groves says she can't even imagine life without it, but she admits that Facebook has sparked a lot more controversy than arguments in person.

"There's a lot more confidence with people when they post stuff on Facebook," said Groves. "There's a lot of stuff that people say or do that they wouldn't do in person and that's why there's a lot of fights going on."

Groves says she uses Facebook to meet people she'll go to college with and she says she'll use it to keep in touch with her QHS friends when she goes on to college. And, she says, she can't let things people say on Facebook get to her. And that idea was enforced in her leadership class she's in at QHS.

That mentality is exactly the kind of outcome administrators at QHS say they're hoping for. Edgar says her teachers have been working together to train and familiarize themselves with the new challenges this "social media world" is creating.

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