Grades 6, 7, and 8 visited the library this week for a lesson on the effects of social media on our personal relationships. Whether they are allowed legally to be on certain platforms or not (most require you to be at least 13), the reality is that most middle schoolers are on Snapchat, Instagram, Tic Toc, or other social media. By grade 8 social media has become completely enmeshed with daily life and plays a huge role in friend dramas.
This workshop started off by having students discuss what are some benefits of social media. What they love about it. Many students mentioned their ability to connect with family and friends far away, as well as feeling like they are safe and can always get in touch with someone when they need them. Then we discussed what some of the drawbacks were that they or their friends personally experienced. This included feeling angry seeing snaps of friends out without you, feeling jealous that others have more followers, and being constantly distracted. Everyone was eager to share during these discussions.
We moved on to oversharing and how it can be harmful to post things in the heat of the moment, post things that will leave a permanent stain on your digital footprint, or post things that can even put your safety at risk.
The next concept was something called ‘Red Flag Feelings’ and was an important concept defined as follows;
A red flag feeling is when something happens on digital media that makes you feel uncomfortable, worried, sad, or anxious. It is a warning that something might be wrong. (commonsense.org)
We discussed how to approach these bad feelings by reflecting on their cause and trying to come up with strategic ways to cope with them. We divided into four groups. Each group was given a scenario and had to identify both feelings and possible responses and then share out their answers.
I genuinely hope that they will take the tools from this lesson with them into their daily lives and can better understand their feelings when difficult situations arise.
For resources on this lesson please visit common sense education.