March 22, 2024

Using Tech for Good: Positive ways students are navigating social media

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.

In light of recent lawsuits against major social media companies like Meta citing claims that their platforms are addictive and harmful, many people are discussing the challenges that many social media platforms come with. However, students are flipping the script and proving that there are many positive ways to navigate social media and tech. In a recent survey published on March 11th, 2024, Pew Research Center found that 69% of teens say smartphones help them pursue their creative hobbies and interests

It also revealed that almost half of teens surveyed say that devices like phones help them do better in school. Because of this, educators can hone in on the positive ways students use social media and smartphones, like building confidence through apps like Legends and building a community through sharing art on social media, to show them how they can use their tech to benefit their lives. Read on to discover how educators can empower students to strike a balance with their phones and use social media for good. 

How students and educators are using tech for good

70% of students say that phones and social media are more beneficial than harmful, as they use social media to pursue their hobbies and share their interests. One student, Isa Obradovich, started building a community on Instagram in middle school by posting her art. She says that educators inspired and encouraged her, like an art teacher who praised Obradovich for using social media positively to share and get feedback on her art. As a college student, she has over 170k followers on Instagram and a million followers on TikTok. Despite the negativity she has faced on social media, Isa says that posting her art on platforms like Instagram has brought her friends, community, and positivity. 

Like the teachers in Isa’s life, educators and families can use social media to empower students to build a community and positive life skills. One example of this is through the app Legends, founded by Sonny Caberwal, an entrepreneur and a father. Caberwal believes social media can be a powerful tool and wants to focus on the positives. With Legends, he strives to build students’ confidence skills so they can approach social media positively and combat the negative effects of cyberbullying. The app provides an alternative platform for students to scroll through videos of celebrity role models giving advice and provide activities for students to engage with, such as strategies for positive self-talk to boost students’ self-esteem. 

From the Legends app to Isa’s supportive community built around posting her art online, students can navigate social media in many positive and beneficial ways. By highlighting real-world social media wins like these, educators can encourage students to navigate social media and tech in ways that will fuel their lives rather than detract. The recent study by Pew Research Center shows that, while there are challenges online, when we focus on empowering and equipping students, rather than scaring and restricting them, the good can often outweigh the bad.

TSI’s Take

Social media is part of our everyday lives, especially for students. Pew Research Center recently reported that six in ten teens use TikTok, Instagram, or Snapchat. For students, social media is simply being social, and they are already using social media to help them excel. Education Week reported that 69% of students using social media platforms like TikTok for educational purposes say it has helped them with their schoolwork. It’s important for educators to encourage this and further empower students to focus on using social media to help them succeed and spread positivity. 

Here are some tips on how educators can empower students to use social media for good and align with The Social Institute’s Seven Social Standards:

  • Build a community: Like Isa sharing her art online, students can use social media to build a community that supports and uplifts them. Encourage students to surround themselves with good friends and positive role models online by empowering them to find positive influencers that align with their values. 
  • Promote positivity: Empower students to share their skills and interests online and support others who do the same. Encourage students to recognize and celebrate the achievements of their peers, cyberback by supporting one another online, and foster a positive environment where everyone feels valued and encouraged to excel.
  • Flip the script: Huddle up with your students and empower them to join the classroom discussion on using phones and social media. Build a tech policy with students that works best for everyone and encourage them to strike a balance in navigating tech both in and out of the classroom. To empower students to join the discussion on striking a balance, check out our Classroom Technology Policy

At The Social Institute, we believe in a positive approach to social media. Rather than scaring and restricting students from using social media, we want to meet them where they are. It’s important to relate to students and get their input on navigating social media to understand better how they can use it as a tool for good. Check out our Seven Social Standards and share them with your students to empower them to navigate social media and tech in positive, high-character ways. 

#WinAtSocial Huddle Question

Huddle with your students
What are some ways you use social media to pursue your interests or hobbies like Isa posting her art on Instagram?

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.