Education October 17, 2019

Safe Social Media Use: What Teachers Can Do

Amanda S., Editor

When a child or teen runs into a problem, they generally turn to a close adult for guidance. Sometimes that's a parent, caregiver or other family member, and sometimes it's a trusted teacher. As a teacher, you have a hand in molding today's youth. You are a dependable individual in their lives and are tasked with taking care of their educational journey. In today's digital world, this can mean more than just instruction in history, math and grammar; this also means helping them make safe social media choices.

Start Younger Students off on the Right Foot

Social media is fantastic for children for many reasons. It lets them keep in touch with loved ones who may live far away or explore their creative side by letting them post thoughts, art or music. It also allows them to meet friends and connect with others who have the same interests.

That said, there are still many negatives things about social media, such as cyberbullying, hackers and online predators. Teaching children how to spot warning signs and report things that make them uncomfortable is the first step in keeping them safe. To help your students with safe social media use, teach them to use the following guidelines:

  • Tell a parent, teacher or other trusted adult if a stranger contacts you or if someone harasses/threatens you online.
  • Keep personal information private.
  • Be nice and treat others with respect. If you notice someone is being cyberbullied, tell the bully to stop or report it.
  • Become familiar with privacy settings. Review them with an adult.
  • Avoid posting anything that you wouldn't want everyone to see. Once something is online, it's out there for good.

Social Media Safety for Teens

It seems pretty rare these days to find a teenager who doesn't engage heavily with social media. From Facebook and Twitter to Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, teens aren't wanting for choice.

Today's teenagers may already be aware of safe social media practices, but that doesn't mean they don't still need guidance.

  • Help teens understand that what they post and how a negative social media presence can affect their reputation and future, including college applications, financial opportunities and job offers.
  • Remind teens that sending explicit pictures to someone can quickly get out of hand. Even if the images are sent to someone they trust, devices can be stolen, lost or hacked, and those images could resurface.
  • Trolling other people's profiles or bullying others online isn't cool. If someone disrespects them online, advise them to resist the urge to retaliate and block/report the person.

To learn more about safe social media tips for kids and teens, visit KidsHealth.org

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