Digital media has become a significant factor in many young person’s day to day routine. Many people across the UK are beginning to rely on technology throughout their day, to the point it can be depicted as a digital limb for some users. We can’t leave a room without putting our phones in our pockets, many of us even rely on them to wake us up to start our day. Social media plays a huge part on how people interact with each other in the modern day and although this increase in communication for young people can be a good thing, it doesn’t come without its downfalls. We published a 24 hour poll on our Twitter page earlier this week asking Twitter users if we should raise more awareness on the effects of social media in schools and 93% voted yes. With this in mind, TeacherBoards wanted to explore the ways in which teachers can educate students on the issues surrounding social media, without demonising it completely.
On an academic level, social media can have a negative effect on student productivity when it comes to concentration in the classroom, timekeeping, and conscientiousness. Its important to discuss ways to combat these factors without heralding new media as a societal crime which many previous attempts of raising awareness on this issue have tended to do. It is without a doubt that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have introduced many beneficial aspects to modern day society and its users. For one it has made young people more politically aware, making them more likely to vote, and has also helped them communicate with other young people on a wider scale than ever before. However, other issues such as having damaging effects on self-image and mental health, productivity in school, and issues with privacy and data protection are all attributes that students need to be educated on.
Self Image and Student Life
Starting with self image and mental health, it is no modern phenomenon that young people are faced with images and advertisements telling them how they are supposed to look on a daily basis. Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat are said to increase these false perceptions of beauty and health. Filters and photo-shopped images are plastered across these mediums in front of young people and as these standards aren’t realistic, it begins to eat away at their self worth. Teaching students about normal bodies, unrealistic beauty standards and self care can help prevent students feeling bad about their unique image. You can implement this on various academic platforms, through storytelling and literature, group discussions, and P.E.
Scrap The App
Many phone or tablet applications are meant to be playful, useful, or social but there has been an increase in apps that can leave users feeling insecure about themselves and the way they look. The 10 apps pictured below centre around secrecy or judgement which is a playground for offensive behaviour and cyber-bullying. Teaching student teens that these applications can be detrimental to self image and that they are truly meaningless can be essential for promoting a positive mind set.
Productivity and Concentration
Productivity wise, procrastination and media platforms go hand in hand when it comes to completing homework on time or concentrating during lesson time. Doing anything in excess is never a good thing, and spending too much time staring at a screen is definitely no different. Teaching the tell tale signs to students of ‘How to know when you’re spending too much time online’ can help them become self aware of their possibly damaging actions. These factors can be significantly reduced when noticed and then managed. See below for the signs that highlight the fact you are spending too much time online:
- Checking your social media accounts is the first thing you do when you wake up and last thing you do before you go to sleep, with many intervals in between.
- Your confidence and self worth is decreasing and you are beginning to compare yourself to other people you view online.
- When studying, you are breaking too often to check Facebook or other platforms, thus making the task longer and more difficult to process.
Privacy and Data Sharing
Your privacy and protection is also at risk when you create various social media accounts online. Once you post something online it can stay on there forever, even if you delete it. Teaching students about what happens to your information when it’s posted online is important as it can turn harmful. Hacking and Catfishing are becoming all too easy to do as the internet and information databases are rarely fully secure. Catfishing and internet fraud can be damaging to a persons reputation and can be difficult to prove due to the amount of evidence and information you give about yourself to your online profiles. Discussing the consequences of oversharing and having an open profile is important as many users are unaware of what information of theirs is stored and shared regularly. One way to show the magnitude of how far your information can travel is to post a picture or a status online asking your friends to comment with their location and share the post if possible. Eventually, you can end up with comments from people around the world that you may never have met or spoken to before that have no mutual connection.
Telling students what they can and can’t do can be a sure way of getting them to do the opposite. It is essential to remember that social media has its benefits and can be a healthy and positive medium when it isn’t being abused. Introducing alternate ways to combat boredom can be your first step as a teacher to remind students their happiness does not rely on a digital presence.