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Friday, 5 June 2015

The Reach of Social Media: A Lesson in Internet Safety

This week, my Grade 4 class was learning about Internet Safety.  We talked about common lures predators will use online, why it is important to never give your passwords to friends, not to believe what people say online, and that it is very important to think about what is being posted.  We talked about the fact that once a photo is posted online, anyone can copy it and do with it what they will. 

I wanted to show my class how fast and how far photos can spread on social media sites like Facebook.  To illustrate the point, I wrote a message on our whiteboard.  It looked like this:

I took a photo of the message and posted it on my Facebook page on June 2 at 3:30pm PST.  I was shocked with the results!  By 7:00am the next day, it had already reached over 6700 people. 

The class began to map where the comments and likes were coming from (and I was able to sneak in a geography lesson!).  We created this map after the first day:

As more and more people commented, the map was looking pretty awful!  I decided to go online, instead, to create a map of all the places the message had reached.

The map (as of June 5 at 5:30 PST - 3 days after posting) looks like this:


I am amazed!  Here is a look at how fast the photo spread:

June 3 8:30am PST - 6,763 people reached
June 3 3:30pm PST - 9,443 people reached
June 4 4:00pm PST - 14,269 people reached
June 5 5:30pm PST - 21,838 people reached

So far (as of June 5, 5:30pm), the photo has been shared 273 times, with 817 likes and comments!

The day after I originally posted the photo, one of my students came running into the classroom and said she was at her aunt's house, and she saw our photo on her aunt's Facebook page.  She was excited and told her aunt that it was our class who was trying the experiment. 

The class definitely understood the message that their photos will be seen if they are posted on a social media site, and hopefully, they will think carefully before posting anything they don't want the world to see.

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