Gulfport schools use program designed to teach students negative impacts of social media. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -
You don't have to look hard on the internet to find outrageous videos of young people involved in less than desirable behavior. On Friday, a fight was recorded in Gulfport and now the video has been viewed more than 30,000 times on Facebook. Numerous juveniles were involved and some of them are now facing misdemeanor charges.
The Gulfport School District is taking a proactive approach to stop videos like this from being posted to social media.
"Once you post it, it's really out there forever," said Gulfport School District Director of Technology Dr. Tracy Daniel-Hardy.
That's the message Dr. Daniel-Hardy wants every student in the Gulfport School District to remember. As technology director for the school district, she knows social media is part of everyday life for young people.
"Kids like to video. They like to video everything," Daniel-Hardy said. "They say if there's not a picture or video of it, it didn't happen."
Rather than try to stop students from sharing their experiences, Daniel-Hardy wants to focus on attitudes. She believes if hearts and minds are in the right place, then social media posts won't be as negative.
"I think we have to curb the bad behavior and then we will not have an issue on social media."
Starting in elementary school, Gulfport students begin learning about the negative impacts of social media. In high school, teachers discourage students from posting anything that might come back to haunt them down the road.
"If you're trying to post outrageous videos and you desire to get in not only college, but graduate school, then they can use your social media presence, your digital footprint to decide whether or not you move forward," Daniel-Hardy said. "What you post today, thinking that it is funny, can actually hurt you tomorrow."
The message doesn't stop with students. Daniel-Hardy has organized meetings with groups all around the community and those meetings are designed to be eye-opening experiences for adults.
"We think it's more than just educating the children. We have to educate the adults because the children are a lot of times emulating the what they see from adult behavior."
The social media awareness curriculum is built into classes over a several year period in Gulfport schools.