Keeping Students Safe on Social

K-12 students lined up in a row using social media on their cell phones.

To keep students safe on social media, they need to be aware of many issues, including addictiveness, cyberbullying, age-inappropriate content, and viral social media stunts. For Mental Health Awareness Month, here are a few ways to approach discussions about social media habits to protect students’ safety and mental health.

Discuss what students like on social media

People seek social media for connections. Used sparingly and in a healthy way, social media can be a good outlet for kids to connect with friends. Start discussions with students about the kinds of online communities they belong to and why. You can also uncover which people, companies, and influencers students follow and how they feel about the content and discussions they join. There are ways to be a part of positive online spaces, but it’s essential for students to be self-aware and know when social media is making them feel anxious, depressed, or lonely — all warning signs that they may need to cut back on social.

Dive into what makes students feel uncomfortable online

Students often get exposed to a wider demographic online and may read discussion threads that include unfiltered, abusive, and unhealthy comments that they are not prepared to handle emotionally. Discuss what has made students feel uncomfortable in the past (e.g., misogyny or racism). You may need to reinforce why social comparison is unhealthy and reinforce body positivity. Discuss how filters are fun but also fake.

Cut back on unhealthy social habits

Online social connections are great, but if students spend more time online out of fear of missing out rather than building relationships in person, than it’s time to limit time on social. To help cut back on screen-time, students can connect with friends offline, join a club, or spend time on a hobby. If students are having trouble coping with emotions in school, parents can be encouraged to put time limit settings on social channels and create phone-free spaces in their home like the dinner table.

How have you helped a student better manage their social media habits? Share with us in the comments below.

Sources:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/articles/11-social-media-red-flags-parents-should-know-about

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/articles/how-to-help-teens-manage-the-effects-of-social-media-on-their-mental-health

https://www.facinghistory.org/educator-resources/current-events/what-does-it-mean-live-social-media

https://lancastergeneralhealth.org/health-hub-home/2021/september/the-effects-of-social-media-on-mental-health

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