NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – A local teacher tried to help his students learn an important lesson about social media, earlier this month. News 4 shared the story about Kris Green, who teaches seventh grade at Gaskill Prep in Niagara Falls.
He decided to post a picture to his Facebook page, asking his friends to share it, so his students would see how quickly posts can become public. It was shared more than 1,000 times.
Green spoke with News 4 about whether the lesson hit home with students. He said, “A lot of them thought I was kidding, that I was gonna go on Facebook until they saw the original newscast air the first time, then they realized that I was serious.”
A discussion on freedom of speech in Green’s classroom is a continuation of a social media lesson, that started with a picture.
Student Keyonah Betton said, “He told us in class but like I thought he was just joking around, but he wasn’t.”
News 4’s Teresa Weakley has a public Facebook page, and the most popular post on it may have received a lot of “likes,” but only three people shared it. Compare that to the more than 1,000 shares Green’s private page received.
Green said, “It really is a powerful message for the kids to see because then they realize that everything isn’t private and a lot of them didn’t realize that their page isn’t as private as what they thought it was.”
Student Alexus Smith said, “Watch what you post because it can end up all over the Internet, you could get bullied for it or drama could start.”
“Because if you try to delete it, it won’t delete. Someone could Snapshot it or share it, once it’s posted it’s already shared all around the world,” said student Justince Lane.
Besides his Facebook post, Green shared some real life stories with his class. You may remember a high schooler from West Seneca who was suspended for what he wrote on Twitter.
Betton explained, “He got suspended for five days for like cussing, using cus word with a teacher’s name and saying #freedomofspeech.”
Minors don’t necessarily have freedom of speech, especially where school is concerned. Green says his students really began to understand this when he told them about a young girl in Florida, who committed suicide after she was bullied on Facebook.
Student Geoffrey Sandiford said, “Shocked, because I didn’t really think nobody was gonna kill themself over what people say.”
Smith said, “I was really surprised because a 12-year-old girl should not like think about suicide or anything and I’m 12 so, yeah.”
These are not easy lessons, but they are important. Green hopes he is making a difference by teaching them.
Green said, “I hope so. I hope so, at least, I mean you can’t reach them all but you try to reach as many as you can.”