Session 367: Students and Social Media

Thursday 17th August 2017


There is no avoiding it. Social media is here, very popular, and there appears to be no abating with how people swarm to the multitude of platforms all vying for our attention, all for the sake of connecting with other people.

Pupils currently within the education system have grown up at the same time as social media platforms, and are familiar with the latest trends, platforms, and behaviour expected as they broadcast themselves to the world. So, how can educators support the students during this expansion of social media?

Following the online poll, #UKEdChat this week explored ideas, resources and tips to support pupils find their way safely on social media, using their networks positively. The session will explore the following questions:The session explored the following questions:

The session explored the following questions:


  1. In terms of Social Media and young people, what evidence have you seen that the platforms are positive in terms of their development?
  2. What behaviours or effects have you seen in terms of young people and social media, that have resulted in negative consequences?
  3. As educators, what key skills and considerations should we be teaching in terms of behaviour on social media platforms?
  4. How can schools support and educate parents and carers about the opportunities and risks involved with social media?
  5. What resources/activities are available to help inform students about using and engaging on social media platforms?
  6. From what you have witnessed with your students, what are the most common and popular social media platforms currently being used by young people?





One of the most notable characteristics in modern society is how people have embraced social media platforms without question. None more so than the younger generation who rely on their networks to provide acceptance, develop their sense of identity, and as a source of information.

For many teachers and parents, the distraction of social media can provide a means of frustration, and identifying the positives can appear a tricky exercise. Yet, as teachers, we need to recognise the role of the education system to ensure our students are using social media networks safely, responsibly, and with consideration to the impact their posting can have on others (both positively and negatively).

The social side of life is critical for our students, so seeing the connections made is good to see. On the negative side, however, the dangers of engaging on social media are blatant, in terms of bullying, negative feelings of self, and trying to impress the crowd. Additionally, many adults will recognise when young people show an inability to leave devices alone, along with anger if challenged regarding their phone usage. For example, one teacher shared a story about a student who didn’t want to go on a trip as the destination was a place without wi-fi, which would affect Snapchat ranking!

So, what skills should educators be teaching to students in terms of behaviours on social media platforms? In most cases, tone matters and should be considered. It is possible to demonstrate to students examples of similar messages but with different tones. How messages are perceived are very subjective, so ensuring clarity is essential.

Additionally, careful management of social media interactions needs to be considered, as potential future employers will have access to social media postings, especially as technologies evolve and collecting such data is going to be simpler to collect.

Students need to learn to be Ready, Respectful and Safe no matter who they are communicating with. The comment or picture lasts forever. Essentially, teach students how to keep their cool when they see something they don’t like and either respond to it reasonably or not at all.

Teaching about using social media responsibly is not just the sole task of teachers, and the role parents have in the overall picture is equally, if not more, important. Schools are well-placed not only to teach pupils about using social media, but opportunities in engaging parents are also possible.

Many schools will have policies on the use of social media platforms for staff and pupils, but opportunities exist to include parents in drafting policies for safe and considered use. Furthermore, providing workshops for parents to attend can be more inclusive than meetings or presentations, where parents can feel dictated to. Such workshops can support parents to be vigilant and equipped to manage social media usage at home as well as watching for risk signs. Additionally, workshops are more engaging and can prove very effective, particularly for parents/carers with limited social media experience. Despite age-guidance on social media platforms, many students will access networks at a very early stage, so offering such workshops applies to parents of primary-aged pupils as well as students embarking on their teenage years.

Like many fads in life, some social media platforms are more popular and populated today than a few years ago. Who is to say which platforms are going to take the world by storm over the next few years. Presently, sites such as Snapchat, Instagram,, and appear to be the most popular among young people, whereas Facebook and Twitter are considered out of vogue with the current generation of teenagers.

Therefore, educators need to listen and discuss different social media platforms with their students to explore what the implications of such networks. Who better than teachers for students to explore and learn about social media responsibilities from? Research, collaborate, create, etc.

Summary compiled by: @digicoled


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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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