Human beings are social creatures who crave interconnectedness. We want to be around others, share with others, and learn from others. When we have a personal connection with someone, we are more likely to listen to them and have a desire to positively contribute to that relationship. Which is why teachers are taught how important it is to build relationships and connections with their students.
Social media has been making it easier than ever to communicate with our communities through the sharing of ideas, personal messages, and various forms of content (videos, photos, etc). There are many benefits to using social media in the classroom, though there are also some negative effects to watch out for. When social media is implemented purposefully and watchfully, the new social media trends to try are worth solidifying that interconnectedness amongst your students.
Benefits of Using Social Media in Your Class
Social media can be a powerful educational tool that provides students with a dynamic learning experience. For students who are on the shy side, social media provides a platform for them to contribute ideas. Too scared to raise your hand? Tweet your answer. Don’t want to share what you did over the weekend? Post a photo on your class Instagram. Giving all students a voice in the way they are most comfortable speaking ensures that all students feel like equal members of the classroom community.
Additionally, social media is the language students have grown up speaking. They are familiar with it, spend their nights and weekends glued to it, and find it to be an exciting part of their lives. By taking a tool students already are connected to, a teacher can eliminate the time it takes to teach a new app or program and take off running with the content at hand. The excitement students will have when a teacher tells them they can tweet, post, or TikTok their learning is enough to reignite even the dullest student’s flame.
Negative Effects of Social Media to Watch
When using social media in the classroom there are some things to be watchful of. Cyberbullying is a big and rather serious one. Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that takes place over digital devices. It includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else (stopbullying.gov). This can cause embarrassment and humiliation with long lasting effects that could even carry into adulthood. If you notice any sort of teasing starting to develop in the classroom, immediately put a stop to it. Before implementing social media into the classroom, discuss with your students how to contribute to the platform being used in a positive and respectful manner, one that uplifts and celebrates each unique member of the class.
Another negative effect of social media is that it can cause students to compare themselves to others. How their peers dress, where they go on vacation, who they spend their weekends with. This can cause anxiety and depression and depreciate a student’s self worth. Having honest conversations with students about how they are feeling using social media can help educate them on when they need to take a social media break. Additionally, bringing into awareness tools like photoshop and other editing tools can help students realize that not everything they see is real.
According to Rachel Dawkins, M.D., with John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, sleep is an essential part of everyone’s routine and largely contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
“Not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity and even depression” (The Importance of Sleep For Kids).
Social Media can be a distracting tool that interrupts young children and teenagers’ sleep. They have trouble falling asleep because they’ve been looking at their phone for hours before bed. They wake up in the middle of the night and check for notifications on their snap chat, Instagram, or Twitter. They may be restless in bed because they are still bothered by something they saw a classmate post earlier in the day. Creating rules about how much social media time students have is a critical part of implementing it into the classroom.
New Social Media Trends to Try
There are many social media trends to try in the classroom. Below is a list of these rising platforms as well as an explanation of how to incorporate them into your classroom.
Facebook is one of the most widely known social media platforms. Because it has been around for 15+ years, many students already have heard about Facebook or already have an account. This makes using it in the classroom easier and quicker to implement. Design a Facebook group for your class where students can post photos or comments about their day. Use the Facebook live feature to record yourself teaching lessons that students can later refer back to. Or, have students design a fake profile for a historical person you are studying in class. Is there a presidential race coming up? Have students create fake contestants, have them argue their case, and respond to people’s questions.
Blogging is a great form of educational social media because it encourages students to give and receive feedback in a way that the teacher can monitor and control. Blogging for older students can be beneficial because they can link and use their better posts for college applications and scholarship opportunities. Try sites such as Kid Blog, Word Press, or Blogger to get started.
TikTok is all the buzz these days. This video-making social media app is free for users and easily accessible for students. It can also be a unique and creative tool in any teacher’s toolbox. Students can create videos in response to assignments or topics. They can reflect their opinions on topics or review for a test by creating a short video. The options are endless, and students are sure to get a kick out of using this platform in a classroom setting.
Twitter is another type of social media that has been around for some time. This is another easy one to incorporate into the classroom and connect families and communities to class events. Create a class hashtag and let students start tweeting about their days. A teacher can also challenge their students to use Twitter to complete assignments, write poems, or do a reading response.
Human beings are social creatures who crave interconnectedness. Social media has been making it easier than ever to connect with one another and give students a voice they may not otherwise have. When social media is implemented purposefully and watchfully, the new social media trends to try are worth the advantages and excitement they bring to the classroom.