Earlier this month, The Social Institute polled more than 1,400 students in fifth through 12th grade from K–12 independent and public schools across the country to determine where they hear the most information about Ukraine. The top answer was social media. In 2018, Dictionary.com chose its Word of the Year as “misinformation.” With the ubiquitous use of social media, misinformation—when someone spreads information that is not accurate, but they don’t know it’s wrong—started spreading quickly. In an interview, Jane Solomon, Dictionary.com’s linguist-in-residence, said “Misinformation has been around for a long time, but over the last decade or so the rise of social media has really, really changed how information is shared.”
One of the biggest parenting questions in the modern era is about when a child should be allowed on social media. The 1998 law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act blocks companies from tracking data from users younger than 13. As such, most social media platforms set 13 as their minimum age requirement. When asked about the age requirements, advice columnist and founder of The Social Institute Laura Tierney tells a parent of a 12-year-old that while it’s up to them to decide if their kid is allowed on Snapchat, they should make sure that the child won’t use the app at the expense of doing homework and chores.
Instagram is making a move to address a longstanding concern of parents and lawmakers: verifying the age of its users, particularly children. Yet the new tools fall short of carding everyone on Instagram. They will be used only when users already registered as 17 or under attempt to say they are adults. However, according to The Social Institute’s 2021-2022 Student Survey, 47% of students said they created social-media accounts before age 13.
As summer approaches and brings long, unstructured days, parents struggle with setting boundaries for social media and tech use. They worry their kids will suffer an academic “summer slide” (made worse already by the pandemic and learning loss) or pass the days in unproductive ways, fueled by hours hunched over their phones or playing video games in a dark room. Check out our article on FOSI.org that shares actionable tips on how to help your students strike a balance with social media and tech over the summer.
Today’s middle and high schoolers have never known a world without social media and technology. It’s embedded into their entire lives. By using technology in the classroom and having daily conversations over social media, they use them both to connect and communicate with the world around them. How can educators teach digital citizenship in a way that is relevant to students and passes the snicker test? Check out this article written by TSI Founder & CEO, Laura Tierney, on EdNC.