June 2, 2022

May’s Top Trends Impacting Student Well-Being, Social Media, and Tech

#WinAtSocial Lessons are always relevant and engaging to students because we keep a pulse on everything from the newest apps to the most popular trends impacting students. Through our close connections with students and our real-time database of student surveys and #WinAtSocial Lesson feedback, we have a direct link to what is going on in students’ social worlds, both online and offline. 

Read on to learn more about the latest social media and tech trends affecting students that’s influencing our work this month.

Social Media and Tech Trends

Remote Learning Apps Shared Student Data at a ‘dizzying scale’
Students around the world rely on remote learning apps to stay-up-to-date on school. Human Rights Watch recently reported on 164 educational apps and websites used in 49 countries. This report found that over 90% of educational learning apps were created to send information and data to advertising companies. By collecting student information, these advertising companies can build a profile of a student and target them with ads for things they find interesting. At the Social Institute, one of our Seven Social Standards that we encourage students to live up to is protecting our privacy: staying in control of our personal information and where our data is. For more information about these standards, click here. 

The Top Downloaded Apps in 2022
A new report from Sensor Tower shows the top ten most downloaded apps around the world from Q1 of this year. According to the report, total app downloads increased to 36.9 billion, a 1.4% increase from Q1 of last year. TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Shopee, Telegram, Snapchat, Messenger, CapCut, and Spotify are the top 10 apps downloaded so far this year. For insights on how students use these apps, check out our latest report, 22 Insights for 2022 About Social Media and Student Well-Being.

One Reason TikTok Is The Most Popular Social Media App Of The Year So Far
Have you ever wondered why the content you see as you’re scrolling through social media is so addicting? It’s because of the platform’s algorithm. When you spend more time looking at content in a certain category, the app remembers and continues to feed you similar content as you scroll. When you open TikTok and land on your #ForYou page, the content has been curated specifically for you. According to TikTok, The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors, starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in, too.” 

Another one of our Seven Social Standards is Finding Your Influencers. This means finding online influencers that help empower one another, reduce stress, and inspire positivity. The accounts we follow matter, as they impact our algorithm and the other accounts we are exposed to. 

Students are using social media more than ever
Students are spending more time than ever before on social media. A recent study by Common Sense Media found that the screen time among teens and tweens increased by 17% from 2019-2021. More specifically, the daily screen time among teens increased from seven hours and 22 minutes to eight hours and 39 minutes. The survey reflected various reasons for the increase, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of social interaction. We recently posted a pro-tip to our social media account on the power of focus modes on the iPhone and managing screen time. Check it out here.

BeReal: The Newest Popular App Among Students
BeReal is a new app inspiring people to be their most authentic selves – no filters, no influencers, no ads, and only two minutes to capture a photo to share. Oh, and no do-overs. At a random time each day, BeReal sends a notification to users’ devices that it is time to “BeReal.” Users have a ticking clock of only two minutes to take a front-facing image and a back-facing image. And that’s what makes the app so exciting. You never know where you are going to be when it is time to “BeReal.” Check out our newest playbook to learn more about how students are using this social media app. Our playbooks are curated to provide students and parents with summaries of the most popular apps, plus best-in-class resources and privacy settings to help them stay safe. 

Wi-Fi On School Buses
A recent EdWeek article says schools are considering Wi-Fi on school buses. The FCC announced a proposal on May 11th that would use federal funding for Wi-Fi on school buses to serve educational purposes, such as doing homework in case a student has unreliable internet at home. Those against the bill say that students would use it for non-academic purposes such as watching videos and playing games. But, social media can be more than just games and homework for students. It can be a place for curiosity and growth. We talked to students about the truth of social media for Gen Z, and what they wish adults knew. For insights on what they had to say, click here.

No More Periods When Texting. Period. 
Did you know many students can’t stand periods at the end of texts? In fact, they view it as rude or passive aggressive. According to the New York Times, “To younger generations, using proper punctuation in a casual context like texting can give an impression of formality that borders on rudeness, as if the texter is not comfortable enough with the texting partner to relax. The message-ending period establishes a certain distance. The punctuation is polite when speaking to someone older than you or above you at work, but off-putting among friends.” Texting etiquette is ever changing, from abbreviations to understanding tone via online platforms. Students are not only setting themselves apart from older generations with grammar. They tend to use emojis differently, too. Check out our blog post about what students think about the top emoji trends from 2021, and what the fun symbols mean to them. 

What Is the Metaverse and Why Should We Care About It?
We have been hearing the words meta and metaverse quite often recently. So what is it? Many describe it as a developing idea of where the internet is going, such as virtual reality. It’s a virtual place where users can meet up and connect with one another no matter where they are physically located. “You can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared to The Verge. Many big tech companies are already designing ways in which their platforms can get involved in these new developments. As these companies continue to navigate the development of their own metaverse, we will see more discussions on safety and privacy rights. With the internet evolving into a place we could actually step into (virtually), it’s important to encourage safe practices while using social media and tech. For more information, read this blog on creating a safe online environment for students.

With social media and tech evolving on a daily basis, we know it can get overwhelming to try and keep up. So, follow us on our social media @thesocialinst to stay up-to-date and ahead of the curve as we navigate student trends and all things social media and tech. 


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. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities.