By Jennifer Kennedy
Jennifer is IEA’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. She works closely with IEA’s social media and connects with parents and educators of gifted children regularly through social networks.
Social networks seem to be everywhere, with new networks and tools popping up all the time. You are probably using social networks already, but did you know that they are more than just great ways to connect with friends from high school? They are also excellent gifted resources.
Why Social Media for Gifted?
We know that gifted children bring both joy and unique challenges. As the parent of a gifted child, you need support and resources tailored specifically to gifted children. It is also valuable to interact with other parents of gifted children to recognize that there are others out there going through similar challenges. Sometimes, especially if you live in a rural area, these parents and resources can be difficult to find and connect with in person. That’s where social networks come in.
Social networks allow you to connect with other parents and teachers of gifted children across the country to share stories and suggestions, form support groups, and advocate for gifted children!
Plus, there are many gifted advocates, experts, and organizations using these networks as platforms to connect with you and provide you with the resources and support you are looking for.
The most popular and generally most valuable social media for gifted parents are:
Here, I will discuss how to use Facebook as a resource. Other social media will be discussed in future posts.
Getting Started on Facebook
Since many of you are on Facebook already for personal reasons, this is a great network to start with. The same reasons you use Facebook already – networking, staying in touch with people you’ve met or who do not live near you, connecting with brands you like for news and information – can be used to your advantage for navigating the network as a gifted resource.
Start on Facebook by liking pages you think will be helpful. Search Facebook for any gifted organizations or groups that you are familiar with already. Make sure to click the “Like” button on those pages so that you will see some of their updates on your news feeds. IEA has a Facebook page where we offer gifted news and resources and provide a forum for discussion on giftedness, so be sure to like us during this process.
Then, search for pages or groups that you are not yet familiar with. This will help you widen your network. Try typing the search term “gifted” – or any keyword that is important to you – in the Facebook search toolbar. You will come across many pages and groups, so explore the ones that seem interesting and pick a few that look helpful and engaging to “like.”
Posts from the pages you follow will start to appear on your news feed. See what types of content are being shared and what is being discussed.
It is easy to sit back and watch for resources and interesting conversations on these networks, and that will be beneficial for you. But, to get the most out of the resources, you’ll want to engage with others.
Here are some great ways to engage with other people in the field of gifted on Facebook:
- Comment on articles posted.
- Join discussions in progress.
- Ask questions.
- Share your experiences.
- “Like” articles and posts you find interesting.
- Share posts you think your friends would like on your wall.
Keep in mind that the rules of good networking apply to social networks, as well. Make sure to offer your advice, stories, and experiences when possible. These are communities built on collaboration, so do your best to offer something in return for the great advice and support you receive from others.
You should also make sure to keep the information on your personal profile page up to date so that people you are interacting with on other pages can see who you are. It’s always nice to know who you are talking to!
Continue to Build Your Network
When you meet people in real life that can be part of your gifted social network – parents, teachers, experts, advocates – don’t forget to friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or connect with them on LinkedIn later. This is especially true when you meet people at conferences and support groups. If you want to keep your gifted network separate from your other networks, create a special friend list for these contacts. That way you can post things specifically for those friends you think will be most interested.
Like any network, the more you build your social network, the more you will get out of it. There are many parents of gifted children looking to connect with other parents of gifted children on social media. There are also many gifted professionals on social media looking to create or provide a personal learning network (PLN) online. Take advantage of social media as a resource for support and learning about your gifted child.
How has using Facebook as a resource on giftedness helped you? Please share your experience in the comment section below.