LITTLE ROCK — From networking with students across the country and the world to connecting with teachers and fellow students to discuss assignments and projects, education today involves more than just using books, paper, and pencils. With the growth of technology over recent years, students now regularly connect with others using computers, the internet, and social media.
While these tools bring a wealth of opportunities for learning, they also bring hazards and pitfalls if not used properly and professionally. To help students, educators, and parents navigate the world of social media in a safe and productive manner, the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education is launching its Social Media Awareness Campaign (SMACtalk) for the 2021-2022 school year.
“When we first launched SMACtalk last year, our goal was to share helpful tips and resources for safely using social media and the internet,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “The campaign, however, grew beyond what we expected, largely due to the overwhelming positive reception from educators, parents, and students. We are excited to expand the campaign this school year and will provide new resources, opportunities for involvement, and a heightened awareness to this issue.”
The campaign will focus on online etiquette and developing healthy virtual relationships, how to properly vet information received online, privacy protection tips and suggestions, avoiding online dangers, and knowing when to “unplug” from social media. Resources will provide awareness and encourage ongoing communication between teachers, students, and parents.
To kick off the campaign, DESE is releasing a new music video from Mr. Steve, The Music Man this afternoon. Every school that shares the Facebook post featuring the video by September 17 will be entered into a drawing to win a free concert by Mr. Steve at their school.
Additional resources this year will include a parent blog that features a first-person perspective about internet safety; posters, videos, articles, activities, and links to websites for schools and districts to share; new teacher podcasts; new videos featuring students’ perspectives; and links to games and other resources.
New campaign content will be released at the beginning of October and will continue throughout the school year. Be sure to visit the campaign at SMACtalk.info or follow ADE on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for notifications as new content becomes available.