In the western world, the share of children aged between 12 and 15 with a social media account exceeded 87 per cent in 2022. With more options than ever, it’s getting harder for parents to keep track of what their children are using.
Social media has its benefits; people can communicate quickly and easily, but it comes with several risks. With 4.76 billion people now using social media around the world, it could be argued that education institutes need to do more to teach their students how to use it safely.
Bullying and Grooming are Common Fears
There has been a lot of research into the common fears of parents when their children are browsing online. According to one study into the topic, bullying and grooming are the main worries of parents of children between four and 13 years of age.
The research found that, despite the minimum age of 13 for social media use, many children still get onto common websites like YouTube. Indeed, some four-year-olds are spending 21 minutes per day on social media.
Most parents try to monitor their children online to check what they are doing, with 54 per cent of respondents saying they observe internet activity at least once per day. Parents can’t be there all the time, and things can happen on social media that caregivers are unaware of.
If children are educated more about social media, it can arm them with the knowledge they need to use it in a responsible way. This could also give parents more peace of mind, knowing that their children know how to protect themselves.
What Strategies Can Schools Use in Social Media Education?
In 2023, social media education is not an integral part of curricula around the world. Some institutions and teachers do integrate aspects of social media into their PSHE lessons, though. Advice on how to teach responsible social media use spans a range of methods.
Teachers could also seek to incorporate social media education into the curriculum through a variety of existing subjects. There could be lessons on digital citizenship, online safety, and social media etiquette in various subjects such as language, art, social studies, or technology classes.
Teachers and staff must also receive training on social media use, so they can better support and educate students. Schools can organize training sessions for teachers and staff to help them understand social media platforms, identify potential risks, and teach them how to incorporate social media education into their curriculum.
Schools can also engage in open communication and feedback with students regarding social media use. Opening the conversation to discuss the positives and negatives surrounding the online phenomenon. By encouraging discourse about social media experiences, schools can better understand the students’ needs, challenges, and concerns.
Social media education is crucial for promoting safe and responsible use of the various platforms. Along with integrating lessons into the curriculum, schools can also partner with parents and community members to organise workshops and seminars to ensure everyone knows how to help children browse safely.