News & Musings

Engaging Students Beyond Social Media

Posted on Oct 20 2015

I find social media really intriguing. We use it to share information, yet it also seems to reinforce some of our worst tendencies as human beings. It can distort reality, reinforcing perceptions amongst like-minded individuals. In addition it seems to make it easy to focus on people and personality versus issues that are important in our communities and in our society. In these groups we think people are wrong when they don’t buy into what our ideologies believe is the right way. 

Yet, the world is full of diversity and thus the implication is that there are different ways to approach problems.  To build understanding about different ways of seeing we need to create more positive, respectful social connections. 

This fall I have been working with student leaders in school districts to develop their skills and experience to become facilitative leaders. To be comfortable and have confidence in face-to-face situations engaging members of their community in dialogue about the issues that matter. We have explored different communication styles and talked about social media. Certainly while students enjoy connecting with friends they recognize that there is a lot of misinformation on social media.

It is refreshing to hear student perspectives on the issues and to share tools with them on how they can make a difference. I would encourge communities to consider developing a youth engagement strategy. This is a plan made for youth by youth that are passionate about their communities. It is a strategy with guiding principles and an action plan to engage youth in schools, through youth hubs and as student ambassadors. Lets give youth more than just a voice, lets give them a role, a place at the decision-making table.  Check out what the City of Vancouver or Toronto's City Planning are doing to engage youth.  

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