July 21, 2022

July’s top trending topics impacting student well-being, social media, and tech

From changes to Instagram and Facebook to a popular social media influencer who touts positivity, we’re covering major social media and tech trends impacting students.

  1. Instagram’s new efforts to keep young users safe
  2. Twitter sues Elon Musk
  3. YouTuber Ryan Trahan survives on $0.01 for a month
  4. New age-verification tools from Meta
  5. The FBI can access deleted TikToks

Instagram makes new efforts to ensure young users are safe and using the app responsibly  

Meta's safety features, trending topic in social media
(Example of ‘Take a Break’ Feature, Instagram)

The Gist: Parents can now take extra measures to monitor and protect their child on Instagram with the app’s new Supervision feature. As the Head of Instagram, Adam Moserri, said “parents know what’s best for their children.” Here’s a quick breakdown of this new initiative:

  1. With recent surveys showing that students’ screen time has increased by 17% in the last 2 years, Instagram’s Take a Break feature will remind you to take a step back from Instagram and focus your attention on other activities. Whether you choose to call a friend or read your favorite book, we could all benefit from a social media break! 
  2. The new ‘Nudge’ feature reminds students to engage in other topics if they have been scrolling through the same type of content for too long. To make sure the content students are consuming is diverse, Instagram will prompt students to choose another topic to look into. 
  3. Updates to the ‘Sensitive content control’ feature are game-changing for parents, as it allows them to filter out sensitive content and accounts. This feature allows users to decide how much sensitive information they can see on their Explore pages.
  4. Parents can stay in the know about who their children are following, who follows them in return, when they report or block an account, or how much time they spend on the app. The supervision feature allows parents to receive notifications about their child’s Instagram activity through Instagram’s family center

The Catch: To enable the supervision feature, the account owner must approve a supervision invite. Once your child does approve the invite allowing you to supervise their account, they also reserve the right to turn off the supervision feature through their app’s settings. 

TSI’s Take: At The Social Institute, we recognize that social media apps evolve and update all the time, and keeping up with new features can be overwhelming and time-consuming. That’s why we created Parent Playbooks and Family Huddles as a resource for parents at our partner schools so they can stay ahead of what is trending on social media, gaming platforms, and tech. The Social Institute has curated over 40+ playbooks with categories that range from group messaging to live streaming. We encourage all parents to have an honest, open conversation with their children about this new feature and discuss what the best approach for social media may be for your family. 

Twitter sues Elon Musk for backing out of business deal

Twitter sues Elon Musk, trending topic in social media
(Elon Musk’s Twitter profile, Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

The Gist: When Musk asked for further information regarding the number of spam bots on Twitter and the social media platform refused to disclose the relevant data, Musk pulled out of his $44 billion dollar deal to buy Twitter. According to his team, “Twitter’s figures on spam accounts are not verifiable.” Twitter then sued Musk for attempting to back out of his legal deal to buy Twitter. 

TSI’s Take: If Elon Musk does end up buying Twitter after the foreseen legal battle, the new leadership may change the app’s settings, overall app culture, and the app’s privacy features. At The Social Institute, we encourage social media app users to stay up to date on news surrounding apps they use so they can gain a better understanding of how the app works behind the scenes. 

YouTuber Ryan Trahan survived on $0.01 for an entire month

Ryan Trahan Survives on 0.1 cent for a month, trending topic in social media
(Ryan Trahan, YouTube)

The Gist: On June 1st, YouTuber Ryan Trahan teamed up with Team Feed to raise awareness for how we can end hunger in America with one cent. He set out on a month-long cross-country road trip with the goal of living off of a penny, and ultimately giving that penny to famous YouTuber Mr. Beast. One month later, Trahan completed the challenge and raised $1.4 million dollars for Feeding America!

TSI’s Take: One of the Seven Social Standards that we encourage students to live by is Find Your Influencers, which means following and engaging with positive role models on social media. Trahan is a great example of a positive social media influencer who can inspire us to use social media in high-character ways. Find more positive role models on our blog where we frequently highlight student influencers who share how they’re impacting their social worlds, both online and offline, in positive ways.

Meta and new age-verification tools. Will they work?

Instagram New Age Verification
(New Instagram age verification tools being tested, REUTERS)

The Gist: Meta (previously Facebook) is teaming up with an online age verification company, Yoti, as they work to ensure that young people can only create an Instagram account once they reach a certain age. In the United States, that age requirement is 13 years old. With this new feature, when a user tries to change their birthdate in the app from under 18 to over 18, they are prompted to do one of the following:

  1. Record a video selfie
  2. Upload their ID
  3. Ask friends to verify their birthdate 

The catch: Since this feature only applies to existing accounts, new users can get around the age-verification feature completely. 

TSI’s Take: Ensure your social media use aligns with your family’s core values by huddling with your family and creating a Family Social Standards Agreement. Sometimes a quick, casual conversation between students and their family members can help students better navigate their social media use. 

The FBI can use your deleted TikToks against you 

FBI uses TikTok, trending topic in social media
(Image of TikTok screen on an iPhone, Pixabay)

The Gist: Fernando Enriquez, a serial bank robber, was arrested after the FBI connected him to the getaway car that was in the background of Enriquez’s TikTok posts. The FBI’s search warrant that led to the arrest allowed them access not only to his social media accounts but to his deleted TikTok videos as well. This means there is a lack of transparency on TikTok’s end that explains how long your deleted content is accessible. View TikTok’s transparency report here to see how it is related to law enforcement policies. 

TSI’s Take: Another one of our Seven Social Standards is Protect Your Privacy Like You’re Famous. This standard emphasizes the importance of protecting your personal information, such as email addresses, phone numbers, and location. And encourages students to avoid posting content that clearly shows their location and reminds them to keep their passwords safe!

More resources and information regarding TikTok can be found in our Parent Toolkit, which contains resources for parents and educators to stay up to date on all things tech and social media. We recommend that families use TikTok’s Guardian’s Guide in order to familiarize themselves with TikTok’s privacy policies and more. 

We know it can get overwhelming to try and keep up with the ever-changing updates happening in tech and social media. So, follow us on our social media, @thesocialinst, to stay up-to-date and ahead of the curve as we empower students to navigate social media, tech, and their well-being in high-character ways.

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in understanding student experiences and creator of #WinAtSocial, a gamified, online learning platform that equips students, educators, and families to navigate social experiences — online and offline — in healthy ways. Our unique, student-respected approach incorporates topics like social media, technology use, and current events that have a significant impact on student well-being. Lessons teach life skills for the modern day to inspire high-character decisions that support the health, happiness, and future success of students, while capturing data that provides insights to school leaders to inform school policy and communications, and enable high-impact teaching and a healthy learning environment. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities.