Fordham Prep promotes responsiblity in social media

Fr. Christopher Devron, Fordham Preparatory School president, spoke about the school’s partnership with Common Sense Media, which helps students learn to leverage social media in a responsible way.
Photo courtesy of Fordham Prep

A local Catholic high school is taking a proactive approach to teaching their students about responsibly in the social media age.

Fordham Preparatory School has formed a partnership with Common Sense Media, an effort that develops digital literacy and cyber citizenship programs for educators, parents and school communities.

The boys’ high school is planning to launch the program based on Common Sense’s K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum, which includes turn-key webinars, videos and lesson plans.

The launch is currently scheduled for a parents meeting on Tuesday, April 17, and parents from Bronx Catholic schools and the region’s Jesuit high schools may be invited as well to discuss promoting responsible use of social media, said Fr. Christopher Devron, Fordham Preparatory School president, who agreed to speak to the Bronx Times to answer background questions on the school’s initiative.

“I think it is all about how do we raise awareness among students that what they put out there on the Internet or on any kind of communication has implications on how they are perceived, and those implications are long-lasting,” said Devron.

The school’s president said that whether they want to or not, students are creating profiles of themselves on social media affecting how they are perceived, which can impact college and employment options.

A parent at school, who also offered to provide funding if necessary to get the project off the ground, suggested a partnership with Common Sense Media (part of a larger organization called Common Sense), said Devron.

The high school’s proactive initiative is being headed-up by the school’s director of educational technology, and includes curriculum and resources for teachers, said its president.

Devron said inviting parents from counterpart Catholic and Jesuit schools fulfills the school’s mission of service.

Kelly Mendoza of Common Sense said Fordham Preparatory should be commended because they are involving all key stakeholders in their project: parents, teachers and students.

“We call that a ‘whole community’ approach,” she said. “It takes a village’ to raise a digital citizen.”

The focus is not just on digital safety, but also on avoiding cyber bullying and ‘digital drama,’ she said.

The organization has seen time and again how students can have scholarships taken away or have other negative outcomes because of improper online activity.

The idea that young people need to use social media responsibly, at Fordham Preparatory and everywhere, was driven home by an e-mail sent to a distribution list of students at the school from one of their peers that caused concern on Friday, February 16, according to well-informed sources.

A student e-mailed a meme widely circulated on the internet called “trust nobody, not even yourself” that contained an image of a teenager holding a gun to his identical image, a source said.

The administration referred the matter, and it didn’t result in any criminal charges, according to sources.

Devron said educators often see an uptick in issues just before a school break. February 16 was the last day of class before a weeklong winter recess.

The incident did not disrupt the school day.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Photo courtesy of Fordham Prep

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