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Thinkb4u.com -Teach Students How to Safely Use Social Media

Thinkb4U.com is a free powerful tool that's available to parents and educators to teach children about the power of social networks and online communities, as well as the dangers involved when certain things are posted there.

One of the biggest concerns for many parents is what their kids do when they spend time on social media sites. These days, social media involves much more than just what kids are doing when they're sitting in front of a computer. It's now possible to check and update social network statuses from other devices like mobile phones and tablets.

This means that kids are nearly always connected to those social networks, and those networks play a very significant role in a child's own social life at school. A student's online persona can play a very powerful role in their real-world status within the social circles at school.

Because of this, social networks and the things that kids do on them can make or break the school experience. That is why it is so important to teach students the importance of using those networks carefully, and understanding that what they post about others or themselves on the Internet can live on for a very long time.

There is now a powerful tool that's available to parents and educators to teach children about the power of social networks and online communities, as well as the dangers involved when certain things are posted there. That tool is called Thinkb4U, and it is a perfect resource to teachers to utilize inside of the classroom as part of a progressive curriculum.

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Thinkb4u Main Page

While Thinkb4you.com is a useful website, it is not easy to navigate at first. The main page features a large center pane with images, but it isn't really clear at first where you need to click to access the content of the site, or even what the site is for.

However, there are three main icons at the top of the site, and clicking on those is a good place to start exploring. Those icons actually represent regions of the virtual "map" where videos and other content about social network etiquette are waiting to be viewed.

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Thinkb4u Map

To see the virtual map, just click on the small "Open Map" tab to the right of the center pane. This will open up a layout of the Parker family home, where you'll see the first lesson that's available to watch. You can start here, or click on one of the other icons to see what lessons are available at Northside High or Arbor Park Mall. Each location offers unique lessons in the form of both video skits and written content.

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Thinkb4u Lesson Info

Click on one of the map markers to see more information about that video skit. Each skit is the perfect length to watch in a classroom setting - about 5 to 10 minutes each - and then discuss with students afterwards. These short summaries are a good way for you to quickly review and choose which video session you want to work through with your students.

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Watching the Videos

Each of the videos are well-done skits, with just enough humor to get through to students, and just enough serious content so that kids will understand the underlying lesson and take it to heart. The actors are professional, and the quality of the videos are better than most of the content that you'd find on YouTube.

Toward the end of the video session, students will be asked to recommend a course of action for the actors. If you're showing the video in a classroom, you can ask your students to discuss the situation and agree on the correct course of action that the characters should take.

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Interactive Questions

After you choose the course of action that you think the characters should take, the video session concludes by showing students the consequences of that choice. If the results are good, the students made the correct choice. If they've made the wrong choice, then something bad will happen to the characters.

Finally, at the end of each video session, there are additional areas for both parents and educators to explore more information about the lesson that was taught in the video session.

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Additional Content for Teachers and Parents

As each additional video in that map area is completed, the percentage completed for that area of the site automatically increases a certain amount. This is a useful way to keep track of how far along you are.

On the main page of Thinkb4u.com, if you scroll down toward the bottom of the page, you'll see additional content - web articles - for students, teachers and educators.

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Additional Content for Teachers and Parents

There are usually 5 to 7 articles with useful information about topics related to social networking, aligned for the audience. These are typically short informational articles that you can read through in less than 5 minutes or so.

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Tips and Information

Although the articles are short, they are well written and provide useful tips and information for students, teachers or educators. While the articles are almost an afterthought - since the main focus of the site is really the video content and lessons - the articles are still useful.

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Sections for Educators

The site is well geared toward helping teachers use the video lessons as a supplement in the classroom. Not only are the videos designed for a classroom environment in both quality and length, but the "Educator" pages for each lesson offer valuable free lessons that you can use to expand on the conversation with your students.

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Free lesson plans

You'll find links throughout the site that will take you to free lesson plans on those topics provided by Common Sense Media. These lesson plans include detailed information about the topic covered in the video session, and ideas for how to dig deeper into those topics with your students.

These days, with the rapid expansion of social networks and how integrated those networks are in students lives, it is important for educators to take a proactive approach in teaching students appropriate behaviors and safety considerations when they are interacting with both friends and strangers on the Internet. Thinkb4u.com is an excellent free tool available to help teachers start that process.

Written February 28, 2012 by Ryan Dube


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