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Social Media


Social media is now an integral part of many young peoples lives. How can I use this technology in a school environment?

Social media has significantly altered the nature of communication and the ways people connect and interact with each other. In a lot of ways this is for the better—collaborating on projects and sharing information has never been easier, connecting with friends and colleagues across the world is simple and instant, improving access to resources, information and people, on a scale that no one had imagined twenty years ago.

But, like with all tools and technologies, there are downsides. Social media addiction and bullying are rampant and we are seeing a spike in mental health issues that can, at least in part, be linked to social media use. Young people are being exposed more frequently to racist, homophobic and sexist content and are actively targeted by advertisers. These are serious issues, but since social media is a relatively new phenomenon, we don’t actually know how damaging the effects of high levels of social media engagement might be on our young people and society at large.

Educators are caught in the middle of this issue and are being tasked with determining the best way to proceed. Many advocates claim that young people can hardly be expected to learn appropriate behaviours and approaches to using social media if they’re not being modelled and taught in schools. Schools are also being charged with needing to ensure young people are ready for the world of work when they graduate from high school, and increasingly, this includes skills in all areas of technology, including social media. It is also increasingly important for education to be relevant to students’ lives and environment, and this means that digital technology and social media should play at least some part.

However, numerous studies are suggesting that young people are exposed to too much screen time and that social media is more of a distraction than a tool. Some claim that its use in schools is further eroding attention spans and is wasting more time than anything else. Bans on mobile phones are being enacted in some schools, and others have strict rules limiting social media use.

In this knowledge bank we present explorations of a range of these issues. Some articles are instructional, offering innovative ideas and suggestions for using social media in the classroom and showcasing its relevance to various subjects and its usefulness for motivating and inspiring creativity. We also offer research and policy documents that examine the effects and issues connected with social media use, such as self-harm, mental health and peer pressure. We also highlight content that engages with both sides of the debate about the role of social media in education, encouraging deeper contemplation of the issues.

 

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