Social media has been around for some time. It allows users to post or react to content posted online. Many, if not most, students have access to a variety of different platforms. Some popular social media networks are Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and recently TikTok. More new platforms are emerging as we speak.
It is without a doubt that social media is great for news and entertainment. However, like all other things, has its pros and cons. Today we will be discussing the impacts of social media in the classroom, both the good and the bad.
The positive impact of social media on students
Social media gives students the chance to express themselves creatively, either through words, pictures, or even videos. We can witness students’ talents in creating content for the public. Social media also provides new learning opportunities as well as the chance to connect with others. In a learning environment, social media can encourage interaction and engagement among students. It can also be used to extend the learning environment beyond the classroom.
Connecting with other students
Having social media, especially since the pandemic, has been proven to have a positive effect on mental health and well-being. Social media allows students to connect and keep in touch with friends and family despite the distance. Many have also been able to make friends with like-minded peers online and this is such a big deal, especially those who have trouble finding others like themselves or feel lonely.
More ways to discover knowledge
The internet can offer a vast amount of information and this is the same for social media. Despite what some say, social media can be great platforms for learning new information. Even on TikTok, there are trends showcasing how things can be done or simpler ways of doing things. However, just like any information found online, you need to be able to verify it. This is why it is important for your students to be digitally literate. They know how to research and understand what is fact and fiction (or cap as they say it).
A major platform that can help gain knowledge is YouTube. You can watch learning tutorials on anything. Whether it is DIY, cooking, baking, and tutorials, students can learn a lot from creators on YouTube.
The negative impact of social media on students
While social media provides many benefits, when not monitored, students can easily become addicted. Research shows that students who spend too much time on social media can suffer from health complication,s such as eye fatigue, anxiety, and depression. They might also become sleep deprived, exposed to cyberbullying, have a negative body image and the list goes on.
Eye fatigue and sleep deprivation
Social media can be VERY addictive, especially without proper discipline. We all know what it feels like to tell ourselves we should only be online for 30 minutes but end up mindlessly doom scrolling the entire night. (You’ve done this before, it’s ok, no judgments here cause we’ve done it too.) Scrolling too long can cause eye strain and fatigue. Using mobile phones, iPads and other mobile devices can have a detrimental effect especially when it is almost bedtime. Blue light from our devices confuses our bodies into thinking it’s still daylight outside. This makes it harder to fall asleep and ruins our natural sleep cycle. Hence causing sleep deprivation.
Anxiety, depression, and poor body image
Facebook has been researching the negative effects of Instagram on its younger users. Their research shows that a majority of their users wished Instagram “had given them better control of what they saw and helped them connect with people who had had a similar experience”. The study showed that “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression” and “1 in 3 teen girls blame Instagram for making their body image issues and problematic social media use worse”.
Social media is a big part of the lives of many teenagers and children. They might be exposed to potential risks such as cyberbullying and inappropriate content. However, it is not say that social media is necessarily bad. Regardless whether it is approved or not, children and teenagers are most likely still going to be on social media. Prohibiting them from doing so might just result in them doing it behind our backs.
Following guidelines can help your student benefit from social media whilst being responsible, respectful, and, most importantly, safe. It is important for adults to always monitor and ensure that students and children are disciplined in using social media.
What are your views on social media? Does your school set some guidelines for your students? We would love to know.
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