Is it the time for social media education in schools?


Several things from the class last Tuesday gave me a new perspective on seeing social network. One is about the TED talk given by a 12-year-old app developer, Thomas Suarez; the other is about the presentation on “Impact of social network”, especially the part on it of the individuals.

The intimate relationship between young people and social network is beyond our imagination. Born and raised in this information era, young people live with social media and social media has tied with everything in their lives, just like eating, sleeping, brushing teeth. According to a new study from Pew Research Center, it shows a result that 92% of teenager report going online daily with 24% of them go online almost constantly, 56% of them go online several times a day, and 12% report once-a-day use. Carefully examine the social network they use, Facebook is the most popular among teens and more than half of them use Instagram. Also, instead of use only one platform, 71% of them use more than one social network sits just like most of us.

On the other hand, recent researches also indicate negative impacts of social media on teens, such as a fierce emphasis on physical appearance, directing students’ attention away from schoolwork and toward the social-media platform, the identity defined by the status in social media, cyber bullying and so forth. Based on the presentation last week, we also know that social media is likely to have impacts on time management and mental health.

Given the frequent usage of social media and its potential effects, it seems that to teach students about how to properly use and leverage social media is a necessity. Simply say no to social media does not work, just like sex education and driver’s education. Instead of banning it, it is more practical to provide proper knowledge. Some argue that parents should take the role to give instructions on internet usage. Yet, parents might not be able to do education since they may not have sufficient knowledge about the constantly evolving and changing world of social media. (Thomas Suarez’s ted talk is a perfect example that the kids might excel a lot more at technology than adults.) The education should be provided by educators to give students skills for productive and safe use of social media with concrete and relevant real-world examples, for instance:

  • Pull up a student’s Instagram feed in the classroom and point out what photos are and aren’t okay, and have a discussion about why.
  • Dive into a conversation about cyberbullying by examining what students say to each other on Facebook.
  • Teach a grammar lesson with Twitter, and at the same time, reinforce that what is said in a Tweet is very public.
  • Design lessons around SnapChat.
  • Teach our youngest kids about being a good friend, offline, so when they go online, they’ll know that being a good friend is as important in person as it is in the virtual world.


As an adult, my life has been dramatically changed by advanced technology and social media. While examining the positive and negative impacts that social media has brought to the society and myself, I personally think that it is much more important to take real actions on all aspects that are affected in the society for better application of the internet and social media.



This entry was posted in Facebook, Instagram, pinterest, Research, Social Media, Social Media & Psychology. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Is it the time for social media education in schools?

  1. sydhavely says:

    I very well-argued and comprehensive look at the need for social media instruction in schools. I would wonder about Ms. Barr’s suggestion about posting a student’s instagram photos in class and then critiquing them. That might cause some teen outrage, don’t you think? Anyway, great post.

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