Why a new social media app is OK in some schools

School administrators can—and should—use social media to get their message out, experts say

Typically, each social media craze that consumes students is greeted by educators with deep wariness, if not complete revulsion and efforts to ban an app.

Think Snapchat and the now shuttered YikYak, etc., etc.

But TikTok—an app that allows users to make short, silly videos set to music—is being embraced by some schoolsThe New York Times reported. West Orange High School in Florida, for example, has formed a TikTok club, according to The Times. 

One teacher at the school told the newspaper that he likes the app because it brings different groups of students together.

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CNN reported that teens are using the platform to take action on issues such as school shootings and climate change. On the other hand, one doctor is using TikTok because she thinks it may be the only effective channel to warn students about the dangers of vaping, according to Rolling Stone.

Of course, there have been problems. Communities have held town hall meetings over threats that appear to have surfaced on TikTok.

And a report from the U.K. found that more than one in five British teens spend five hours or more per day on social media. Heavier users get to bed later and get poorer quality sleep, according to NPR.

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Some experts are encouraging administrators to use social media as a public relations tool. Former Principal Eric Sheninger, now a senior fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education and a featured speaker at DA’s 2020 Future of Education Technology Conference®, wrote in District Administration that “leaders need to become storyteller-in-chief for their schools.”

Leaders should also take advantage of social media to build brand awareness, and to recruit and retain students as families consider their options for education, Sheninger wrote.

Social media is an essential component of any school’s edtech strategy, Desiree Alexander, a regional director of Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana and also a featured speaker at DA’s FETC 2020, wrote in DA earlier this year.

“No matter what you think of social media, you have to meet your audience where they are. To start, I suggest joining Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” Alexander wrote. “There are many educators sharing incredible tricks, tips, events and other information through those platforms and you want to become one of them. Join, like, share, and then start posting your own thoughts and contributions.”

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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