When we were approached by the team at MediaSmarts about getting involved in this year’s Media Literacy Week, we immediately jumped at the chance to participate in this important initiative. Why? Because we are in a new era.

The theme of this year’s Media Literacy Week, “What’s Being Sold: Helping Kids Make Sense of Marketing Messages” is one I personally feel strongly about. After all, I’ve spent my entire career working in all aspects of marketing and communications. At the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), I’m responsible for the department filled with people who are experts in advertising and communications, social media and public relations.

Using social media in the classroom isn’t a complex feat, even though it may seem that way. What I think is a great idea is to instill social media literacy in students by crafting assignments around Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr, for example. I’ve compiled a list of four tips to help you do just that:

When I finished Grade 11 in June, I reflected on what I had learned in the past school year. I was taught how to solve quadratic equations, the origins of world religions and studied the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Oh and I know the legal requirements of marriage! But there was something I wasn’t taught. Scrolling down my Twitter timeline, it hit me – why was I never taught anything about social media?

Snapchat, the mobile app that lets users send “self-destructing” photos, has the distinction of being the only digital tool that does not have a single redeeming feature. While the moral panic associated with blogs, cell phones, social networks and online games has largely faded in grudging recognition of their more positive uses (indeed, research shows that many parents have actually helped their children lie about their age register for Facebook accounts), Snapchat is seen as the Q-tip of the digital age: its sole function is to do the thing that you’re warned not to do on the box.

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