I’ve been pretty rigid with my 9 year old son about social media. As in, he doesn’t get to do it. No Facebook, no Twitter. Not even Club Penguin. “Be with your friends in real life,” I tell him. Then I get an eye roll. The boy doesn’t even have his own email account. I’ve purposely been slow to adopt social media for my son for many reasons; the biggest being that he is too young. Plus, I’m just too old and too busy to monitor his online activity all the time. He’s got plenty of years to learn these tools… heck, I didn’t join Facebook until my thirties. But then his fourth grade teacher made joining Edmodo a requirement for his class.
From the research I’ve done, I’m not sure that Edmodo’s founders envisioned their app to be an elementary school version of Facebook. It seems like a great tool for engaging and connecting with students. My son’s teacher believes in the Common Core mission of teaching kids 21st century skills to enable them for a global economy. What better way to learn, he said to parents on Back to School Night, than in a restricted, safe place. The kids already discussed Digital Citizenship and know that their class page is being monitored not just by their teacher, but also all of us leery parents. Our teacher posts practice quizzes. The kids sometimes ask about homework assignments when forgotten. But mostly the conversations go like this…
“Who’s on?” “Me.” “Me too.” “Me three.”
Or the ever popular kids polls of…
“What’s your favorite ice cream?”
“What’s your favorite pizza topping?”
“Do you like math or reading?”
My son goes on to the Edmodo app installed on my iPad every day after school. He doesn’t seem too interested in it, at least not like some of his classmates. How do I know? I also signed up as a parent. So I get notices of all the posts. Sounds like an okay idea until you get the email with the “Me seven!” response to the daily “Is anybody on?” question. For now, I’m hesitantly accepting that my son is getting to an age where he wants to connect with his friends in other ways than just hanging on the playground. “Play-dates” are now “hang-outs.” And social media will soon be a part of his daily regular life.
So he’s learning the rules in a locked down, safe environment. And I’m learning to let go with baby steps too. As annoying as the 22 emails a day are from his friends, I’m also not ready to give up the control. Edmodo is like the learner’s permit of Facebook in our house right now. We’ve got a few years before we’ll be handing over any keys.