May 9, 2024

The Social Toolkit: The most comprehensive resource for huddling with students on tech, social media, and current event trends

As of 2023, 90% of teen students have social media, and 97% have their own personal smartphone. Social media and tech allow students to strengthen their relationships, connect with others, and learn from those around them. However, while these tools are great, they are not free from their challenges.

Students may experience challenges with social media and tech, such as group chat drama, putting their devices away when they need to focus, and using A.I. responsibly. While we cannot eliminate these challenges completely, through huddling with their students, adult role models have the opportunity to empower students to navigate these challenges positively.

Huddling with students is all about having open conversations with them and fostering positive decision-making skills. However, two-thirds of parents say parenting is harder today than 20 years ago, citing social media and smartphones as a reason and 59% of educators feel this challenge in the classroom as well. As the adults in students’ lives struggle to keep up with the ever-evolving tech and social media trends impacting student learning and well-being, who do students turn to for support?

It turns out, they want to turn to their educators and parents. A report from 2023 revealed that 75% of students view their teachers as role models and mentors and as a teen from Vancouver told The New York Times, “Adults should just help point us in the right direction when it comes to social media rather than just saying we can’t do some things because that’s why kids hide things, rather than sheltering us in you as adults should help lead us.” 

Educators and adult role models are key players in equipping students with the skills to navigate social media positively, so they can overcome challenges that arise from tech. However, getting on students’ level and encouraging them to have open conversations about their social experiences – online and offline – is not always easy.

To support the adult role models in students’ lives and help them stay up-to-date on social media, tech, and current event trends impacting their learning and well-being, The Social Institute developed The Social Toolkit. This is a resource that equips adults with knowledge, insights, conversation starters, and real-world examples that allow them to huddle with students and address challenges they may be experiencing with social media and technology.

Let’s dive into how you can use The Social Toolkit to feel confident as you huddle with students on the positive ways they can navigate social media and tech to fuel their health, happiness, and future success.

The Power of the Huddle

Imagine you’re on a basketball team and it’s halftime. Your team is down by 10 and needs a plan to overcome the point deficit. To come up with a plan, you huddle with your teammates on strategies and ideas they can use to win the game. The point of the huddle is to collaborate with others to discuss ideas and overcome challenges. That’s exactly what huddling with students does. 

Huddling allows educators to meet students where they are, get on their level, and build trust. When this happens, role models create open discussions with students on challenges they may be navigating, such as those revolving around body image and online drama. By huddling with students, educators empower students to make positive decisions, such as unfollowing influencers who promote unhealthy body standards, or turning your phone on Do Not Disturb when group chat drama turns into a stressor or a distraction. The huddle also offers the bonus benefit of creating a supportive environment where students feel heard, valued, and empowered to voice their concerns or ideas. 

More importantly, students want to have someone they can discuss their challenges with, especially when it comes to their well-being. Only 22% of middle and high school students said that “many” or “all” of their teachers make an effort to understand what their life is like outside of school, according to a YouthTruth survey of more than 88,000 secondary school students. When students form a connection and build trust with the adults in their lives, they’re more open to huddles that promote open discussions, collaboration, problem-solving, and responsible decision-making. 

Starting a Huddle with Your Students

Before you get started on huddling with students, it’s important to understand the social media and tech-related challenges they’re facing, so that when you talk with them, you can meet them on their level. Role models can get these insights through tools like The Social Toolkit, which provides adults with popular student trends, apps, and discussion topics to get the huddle started. 

Whether you are a caregiver, school leader, teacher, or counselor, huddling helps all adults meet students on their level and strengthen relationships with them. Huddling even offers an additional benefit of helping students build essential life skills, like high character decision-making, communication skills, and problem-solving. 

Get started huddling with your students with these tips:

  • Find regular times to Huddle: Think of these huddles as informal check-ins with your students. You will want to meet with them regularly at a time that works best for both of you. For a parent or guardian, this could be one night a week around the dinner table. For an educator, this could be a designated 15 minutes of class time, once or twice a month.
  • Know what to discuss before starting: Before starting, it’s important to know what you want to discuss with students, and what you want the outcome to look like. This could be empowering students to navigate group chat drama positively or navigating misinformation online. By doing this, you can make sure to keep the conversation moving in the right direction and inspire positive decision-making. Stuck on what to discuss? The Social Toolkit holds insights into what students are doing online, common challenges they’re navigating, and how to get a huddle started. 
  • Have some good questions ready: To foster collaboration and problem-solving, have some good discussion questions ready for your student(s). The Social Toolkit also holds a section with pre-made discussion questions to help you start huddling with students:
    • Example: During the school year, we have plenty of tests, quizzes, and even those longer standardized tests. And there are many ways to prepare for these. The important thing is to figure out what works best for you so you can do your very best. What is your go-to way to study for a major test or quiz?
  • Listen with intent: When approaching huddles, it’s essential to listen with a genuine interest in understanding students’ perspectives and actively listen to their feedback. When students discuss ideas or challenges they may have, they want to feel heard and have their opinions acknowledged. By doing this, you’re creating trust between you and your student(s), which will make it easier to huddle with them in the future. 

How to start huddling with The Social Toolkit 

The better you understand your students, the better you can empower them to build the essential life skills they need to navigate the tech, social media, and current event trends that are impacting their learning and well-being. The Social Toolkit helps role models understand students’ experiences with tech and social media through: 

  • Family Huddles: Reinforce important topics through casual conversation. These topics align with #WinAtSocial Lessons to extend the discussion on important topics that impact students’ everyday well-being
  • Platform Playbooks: A great tool to use before you huddle, our playbooks offer expert breakdowns of students’ favorite apps, games, and devices. Learn how students can use the hottest apps positively. Plus, get curated, best-in-class resources and privacy settings so they stay safe.
  • Wall of Wins: The Wall of Wins shows how students all around the globe are using social media and tech for good. Students can’t be what they can’t see. So, show your students positive social media use cases that they can follow and learn from.

We are proud to offer The Social Toolkit as a complimentary resource to your entire school community when you partner with The Social Institute. Want access to The Social Toolkit so you can huddle with your students? Contact us to learn how you can empower your students to navigate social media and technology in positive, high-character ways.


The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in empowering students by understanding students. Through #WinAtSocial, our gamified, peer-to-peer learning platform, we equip students, educators, and families to navigate their social world – in the classroom and beyond, online and offline – in healthy, high-character ways. Our unique, student-respected approach empowers and equips, rather than scares and restricts. We incorporate timely topics about social media, tech use, and current events that are impacting student well-being and learning. #WinAtSocial Lessons teach life skills for the modern day, capture student voice, and provide school leaders with actionable insights. Through these insights, students play an essential role in school efforts to support their own health, happiness, and future success as we enable high-impact teaching, meaningful family conversations, and a healthy school culture.