May 31, 2021

Where social media and CASEL competencies intersect

It’s no secret that today’s students are spending more time online, with a significant amount of it on social media. And the pandemic only increased the level of social media time students typically spend. So, of course, we can now see clearly the significant impact that students’ online experiences are having on their well-being. 

CASEL, a respected leader in social-emotional learning, categorizes SEL skills into five core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. As a trusted source for evidence-based social-emotional learning, CASEL crafted these competencies as critical focuses. But how do they relate to the experience students have online? Take a look below at the connections between social media and these core competencies. Each competency can also be connected to one of The Social Institute’s Seven Social Standards.


The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. (CASEL)

Students experience self-awareness acutely when they post, comment, like, or share on social media. We teach students to play to their core, by reflecting on their values and passions as they represent themselves online. You only get one reputation! So we focus on themes like feeling compassion for others, understanding broader historical and social norms for behavior in different settings, and recognizing family, school, and community resources and support.

We want students to recognize their strengths and limitations with a sense of confidence and purpose. And yet, for example, only 26% of high school students we surveyed said that their social posts reflect their true values and character. There is work to be done!


The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations. (CASEL)

We all likely need help establishing boundaries for how and when we use our devices. When students find that they are stressed by what they saw on their device or that the time they are spending prevents them from completing other, important tasks, it’s probably time to Strike a Balance like the #WinAtSocial Curriculum teaches.

Students need to be able to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation and agency to accomplish personal and collective goals. Social media is a place to share thoughts publicly or privately, celebrate achievements, and open up to trusted friends about struggles. At TSI, we inspire students to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to help them make high-character choices.

Social awareness

The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts. (CASEL)

At The Social Institute, we encourage students to consider everyone who will be reading their posts and viewing their stories. In TSI’s Social Standards Use your Mic for Good and #WinAtSocial LIVE Lessons, we can inspect current events, cultural trends, and historical and social norms to better understand how we relate to others and the world around us.

While being in person is key to building social awareness, our devices and social media have just as much if not more influence on this competency.

Relationship skills

The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups. (CASEL)

Healthy relationships are all about respect, trust, and supporting one another. Instead of cyberbullying, we teach everyone to Cyberback. There’s no need for more negativity! Social media is now famous for negative, insulting posts – needless commentaries and unproductive conversations. Like the CASEL competency, we focus on communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, and working collaboratively to problem solve and navigate conflict constructively.

Responsible decision-making

The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations. (CASEL)

This competency includes the capacity to consider ethical standards and safety concerns, and to evaluate the benefits and consequences of various actions for personal, social, and collective well-being. While these important topics are woven throughout the #WinAtSocial Curriculum, we spotlight them in the Social Standard called Protect your Privacy like your Famous

From emotional regulation to active listening, we focus on social-emotional and soft skills that support high-character decision-making. When emotions are strong, it’s sometimes too easy to write a post or send a text that we later regret. And, we have to watch our privacy settings because these days even setting changes can lead to events that impact our well-being.

Social media is here to stay, and it’s having a big impact on social-emotional health. New features, apps, and platforms launching every year, making it tough for educators and parents to keep up. By integrating CASEL competencies into the classroom, we can build stronger school communities, address what students are experiencing, and inspire healthy actions that lead to academic success and fulfilled lives.


About The Social Institute

The Social Institute partners with schools nationwide to empower students, parents, and educators to navigate social-emotional health, social media, and technology positively through comprehensive, gamified lessons that meet students on their level as well. We have partnered with forward-thinking institutions across the nation, including Ravenscroft School, Gaston Day School, Bryn Mawr, Gilman School, Woodward Academy, U.S. Olympic athletes, Duke Men’s Basketball, ESPN, and others. For more information, contact us.