In our 7th grade social media awareness series, our goal is to increase young people’s understanding of how permanent their actions are on the Internet. Most students do not realize that anything, including texting, Snapchat and Tweets cannot be deleted permanently. The Digital World provides students with the necessary information to ensure that they are making their best online decisions.

Class Objectives:

  • To increase youth’s understanding of the permanence of electronic communication; pics, posts, and texts, regardless if deleted or not.
  • Increase awareness about why and how we communicate differently online than in person, and what that means for our relationships.
  • Have youth gain a new perspective on screen names, types of posts, what you choose to re-tweet and potential social consequences.
  • Increase students’ ability to make their best online decisions regarding safety, friendships and reputation.
  • Improve internet safety by teaching students to critically view their online activity, look for red flags, and how to keep their information safe.

Sample Activity: The Crayola Activity

Students are given erasable colored pencils manufactured by the trusted brand Crayola. These colored pencils do not erase the same way a pencil does, but the students do not realize this as they trust both the instructor and the Crayola name. The instructor puts the students in groups and passes out the pencils and paper. They can write ANY single word that they want on the paper; there are no boundaries. The students are told that they will not get into trouble.

After a couple of minutes, the instructor gives the students an opportunity to “erase” what they have written, only for them to discover that the pencils do not erase very well. The students begin to panic as the sheets are collected. The instructor informs students that she intends to post them in the cafeteria. This does not actually happen of course, but the students are very anxious that they will get in trouble for their actions. This is a great activity to change the student’s attitude and perspective on how things just cannot simply be erased, even if common knowledge says it should.The students have the opportunity to discuss why they were so worried and relate this to their Internet habits. Discussion surrounds both permanence of posts and trusted sources of information.