February 9, 2024

The Power of Checking In: Elmo’s viral post encourages students to use their mics for good

Be sure to check out the suggested Huddle question at the bottom of this article to discuss this important topic with your students in class, if you feel it is appropriate.

On Monday morning, January 29th, the official account for Elmo, the iconic Sesame Street character, asked X, formerly known as Twitter, users how they were doing. The account asked the same question on Threads on Friday, to which people responded lightheartedly, making jokes and wishing Elmo a happy birthday. Just a few days later, on X and Instagram, people replied much more negatively. Many believe the contrast came from different feelings people have on Monday vs. on Friday, with one reply saying, “Every Monday, I cannot wait for Friday to come.” Negative replies like this prompted Elmo to post that he had learned the importance of checking in with friends. 

Educators can use situations like these to show students that social media can be a powerful tool to check in with and support each other. This instance shows how students can navigate social media to check in with their friends, stay connected with long-distance family, connect with people of different backgrounds, and build support communities. Read on to discover how educators can empower students to use their mics for good and use social media to stay connected with others.

How Elmo sparked a conversation about the connection on social media

On a seemingly normal Monday morning, Elmo posted a casual social media check-in saying, “Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?” This check-in isn’t something Elmo regularly posts. Still, the seemingly routine question led to various responses on various platforms, with users replying with their struggles, worries, and disconnection. The post on X got 20,000 replies, and the Instagram post got around 5,000 replies. Elmo’s account responded to many of these comments, replying with well wishes and even advice for a student who commented on Instagram saying they didn’t want to go to class and needed words of encouragement. 

Elmo cyberbacks a student

A day later, the Elmo account followed up on the previous post, reminding followers that it’s important to ask friends how they’re doing, that Elmo will check in again soon, and tagging the post with #EmotionalWellBeing. The official Sesame Street account also added to the conversation, linking resources for emotional well-being. As the situation grew, even President Biden acknowledged the importance of being there for one another

This viral moment shows how students can use social media to stay connected with others and avoid that feeling of disconnection. Empowering students to use their mics for good, similar to Elmo’s words of encouragement, can help them speak up about their challenges or struggles.

Why K-12 educators should embrace Elmo’s impact

In 2020, Education Week reported that 1 in 3 U.S. high school students felt disconnected from their schools even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The replies on Elmo’s post show us that this feeling of disconnection is still relevant in students’ lives, but also that social media can help them feel more connected to each other when they use their mics for good. Students can navigate social media to check in with their friends, stay connected with long-distance family, connect with people of different backgrounds, and build support communities. Research supports this; Pew Research Center reported that 67% of students said social media made them feel like people around them would support them through tough times

Elmo’s viral post shows the real-world impact of online interactions and the importance of checking in with others. Educators can use this as an opportunity to discuss the power of students using their mics for good and the potential for positive change through online platforms. Empowering students to positively post on social media is crucial to creating a positive online environment where they can feel connected with others. 

Empowering students to use their mics for good can help them develop positive relationships with their peers, encourage them to offer support for others when they need it, and help them identify solutions to their own struggles.

Check out these tips to empower your students to use their mics for good:

  • Check-in with others: Encourage students to reach out to their peers when they see others posting about their worries or struggles online. 
  • Engage with your community positively: Even online, it’s important to build a positive community. Empower students to navigate social media in a way that strengthens their community.
  • Recognize your influence: The things that students post online are important and have a lot of influence on others. Encourage students to recognize and use that influence to support others and foster a positive online environment. 

Elmo’s viral check-in shows us both the feeling of disconnection that students may feel. Still, it also shows us the power of social media to connect with others and build positive relationships and communities. To further empower your students to use their mics for good, explore our #WinAtSocial Lesson, Coaching your school on social media to build a stronger school community.

#WinAtSocial Huddle Question
Huddle with your students
Reflect on times when you or others have used social media positively to offer support, encourage, or build a positive community. How did these interactions make you feel, and how did they impact the online environment for you and others?

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in understanding student experiences and the 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.