It’s no secret that students enjoy spending time on social media. Because social media has become a part of our everyday life, it’s important for educators to understand the impact it can make upon a student’s social and emotional health.
Social media has both pros and cons. One benefit to social media is more connectedness. People are able to catch up with others more often, and therefore may feel less lonely. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube allow users to connect quickly, conveniently, and share many aspects of their life. On the other hand, “rates of anxiety and depression in young people have increased by 70% over the past 25 years” and although more research is needed to show a causal relationship between mental health concerns and social media, students reportedly feel a majority of social media apps worsen their feelings of anxiety (Vazquez Martinez, 2018).
So how does this information impact educators and what should teachers be aware of? Below are some general suggestions for educators.
- Educators should make an effort to take into account the current challenges faced by students, even if those challenges are vastly different from their own experiences. If something appears to be insignificant from the educator’s perspective, but the student is affected by it, then educators should take the time to listen and understand.
- Be aware of changes in behavior. Oftentimes students show a change in behavior and since teachers spend many hours with their students, they may be the only person noticing these differences. The teacher can advocate on behalf of the student by speaking with the counselor, school administrators and caregivers.
- Because many students spend ample time on social networking sites, the chance for cyber bullying increases. Bullying, in any form, may have a negative impact on a student’s well being. Teachers should report all forms of bullying to administrators and follow any interventions or protocols designed by the school.
- Model and teach about healthy habits, like the importance of getting enough sleep. Students may not be well informed about topics like nutrition and exercise, so incorporate this information into your instruction, when possible.
- Adults may already be using coping strategies for managing stress and anxiety. Model any techniques that you use so that the students can replicate. For example, deep breathing techniques help to calm the mind. Model this before a test, so students can use this tool during other stressful moments.
Vazquez Martinez, J. L. (2018, May 3). #statusofmind: Social Media and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing. International Society of Substance Use Professionals. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://www.issup.net/knowledge-share/publications/2018-05/statusofmind-social-media-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and