Written by: Wade Vandervest
Students with LD and Social Networking Sites

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities website, “Students with LD may be more at risk for social alienation from classmates and less frequently asked to join in group activities.” To counter this, a teacher could set up a social networking site for their classroom. The power of this for a student with LD is the fact that a student can think about a response. This fact is very powerful to a student with LD. In face to face or telephone conversation a student with LD may not respond in an appropriate manner, which could cause the social alienation.

There are also a couple of sites that deal with just students with LD. Those two sites are http://www.facebook.com/LDOnline and http://www.specialfriendsonline.com . The nice thing about these sites is students can talk to other students dealing with the same problem. This way a student doesn’t feel like he/she is the only one with the disability. Students can also use other social media outlets that are commonly utilized by their classmates, as this gives them a chance to mingle with the other students.

Instagram is a social media tool that many students over age thirteen use today (2015), while they have moved away from utilizing sites such as Facebook and Twitter. According to Andrew Watts, author of "A Teenager's View on Social Media: Written by an Actual Teen," students of today see Facebook as "an awkward family dinner party we can't really leave" and use Twitter half-heartedly, "you post with the assumption that your employer will see it one day." Snapchat and Tumblr are also frequently used by today's youth to interact with their close friends, but are not widely utilized by teachers to interact with their students. Teachers can use Instagram to remind students about upcoming assessments, send reminders about homework assignments, to offer extra credit to students who follow them by having things like secret phrases that can be added to tests for bonus points, to review what was taught in class, to field questions students have on homework problems, to encourage student collaboration when difficult problems arise (which also affords students with LD to see that they are not the only students who struggle and have questions concerning what they are being taught in class) and more. For these reasons, Instagram can be a valuable resource for students with LD. Additionally, since so many students use Instagram, the LD students would be using the same tools as the "other kids" which is great, as no child wants to appear different than his/her classmates. Should a teacher utilize Instagram to share information with his or her students, it is recommended that the account posts be set to private to maintain a safe environment for the students in the class.

With the possible benefits for Social Networking Sites, there are some downfalls. Students in general need to be careful not to disclose personal information. Students that release personal information could open themselves to cyberbullying. Other possible risks are students with LD may be impulsive to hit the send button before carefully reading what they typed. Also, students may misread material which may cause them to react internally or externally the wrong way.

Should students and their parents / guardians choose to utilize Instagram, parents should monitor the students' post, as all parents of all children should. With parent permission, learning specialists can follow his/her students to help with monitoring that the students is utilizing the application appropriately and students are interacting appropriately with the student with LD. It may also be helpful for a student with LD to type in their response with a teacher, to make sure the student reads their post before hitting the send button. If done right, a classroom social networking site can be beneficial for all students, as can a popular social media network like Instagram. To help out, a teacher may want to have all students keep their identity a secret and not enclose personal information.

Sources:
http://www.ncld.org/
http://www.greatschools.org/LD/managing/social-networking-sites.gs?content=991
https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6
http://dailygenius.com/instagram/

https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6Should students and their parents / guardians choose this route, parents should monitor the students' post, as all parents of all children should. With parent permission, learning specialists can follow