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Today’s teens have never known a world without social media. It’s an established – and growing – part of everyday life, from the professional to the personal. While teens are pretty savvy regarding social media use, it can be a slippery slope if they aren’t educated on how to use it correctly and safely.
It’s up to educators and parents to properly educate today’s teenagers on healthy, productive, and professional social media habits. If teens aren’t well-versed in using certain platforms properly, they could fall victim to cyberbullying and identity theft, or even run into problems later in life when looking for a job.
Let’s take a closer look at how edtech can encourage healthy and professional social media use in teens, and how you can start to educate the teenager(s) in your life to make sure they’re using social media the right way.
The Need for Tech-Savvy Teens
As of 2022, it’s estimated that about 46% of teens use some form of social media almost constantly. Some of the most popular platforms for the age group include TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, but most teens have accounts on other platforms like Facebook.
Because today’s teens have grown up with social media and smartphones, they have an advantage when it comes to learning how to grow and adapt to any new platforms or changes to existing technology. They’re also the first generation to fully experience the benefits of regular social media use from childhood, including:
- Staying connected with friends and family
- Learning about current events
- Accessing health information
- Sharing creative ideas and projects
- Meeting new people who have similar interests
However, because social media is “the norm” with so many teenagers, they might not be as aware of some of the common issues associated tech, including privacy and safety concerns, inappropriate content, and mental health risks.
This generation will lead the way when it comes to new tech innovations and big changes to social media platforms. There’s a growing need for tech-savvy people in the workplace. So, it’s just as important that teenagers understand the digital footprints they leave today can be found years from now when they’re ready to start their careers.
Edtech is an important tool for K-12 students to teach them how to stay safe, savvy, and on top of current tech trends. When teachers integrate new technologies into their classrooms and parents encourage educational tech at home, these students are more likely to know how to utilize technology in safe and effective ways, rather than relying on the “learn-as-you-go” technique that so many kids and teens grow up with.
Whether you’re a parent or an educator, you can help the teenagers in your life practice positive social media habits and avoid some of the pitfalls today and in the future by using technology as an educational tool.
How to Educate Teens Using Social Media
One of the best ways to teach teenagers to use social media properly is to incorporate it into your lesson plans. If you’re a teacher, showing your own social media skills can make it easier to keep the attention of your students – especially if you can show them something new.
For example, because more careers are relying on social media, you can teach your students things like best practices for content creation, how to develop a marketing strategy, and how to work as a team to gather and share assets.
Most kids and teens follow at least one content creator on a social media platform. Giving them the opportunity to “be” one for a lesson will really resonate with them, and you can sneak in a lot of useful information along the way when it comes to things like how to collect data, how to collaborate, and the importance of creating relevant content.
Platforms like Adobe Spark, Canva, and Storybird are all extremely useful for anyone dipping their toe into the world of content creation, and they’re perfect apps for students.
These lessons can carry over into other subjects and projects, and this is just one example of how you can incorporate social media into your school day. Don’t be afraid to get creative and inspire your students by utilizing platforms and strategies that they’re already familiar with.
Teaching Teens to Stay Safe
Teaching teens how to use social media effectively now and for their future endeavors is a great start. However, the most important thing you can teach them is how to stay safe on every platform. Some safety tips include:
- Not giving information to strangers
- Understanding how to set privacy settings
- Creating strong passwords
- Being aware of fake news
- Using secure sites
There are some edtech tools that can make these tips easier to implement. One of the best is Securly, a student-based safety software that offers cloud-based web filtering. This allows students to steer clear of harmful web content. It also monitors sites visited, as well as keystrokes, so parents and teachers alike can be notified of things like cyberbullying or inappropriate content.
As your teen approaches graduation, you can also educate them on the best social media practices they can take with them to college. The transition to college can be a little stressful for both you and your teen. Knowing they have an understanding of how to stay safe online can offer you peace of mind and can make it easier for them to find new friends safely on campus.
You can also encourage the use of edtech resources like Headspace to promote mindfulness and meditation. Guided meditation can help to combat stress and help students stay in the present, rather than feeling anxious about the future. They can even use social media platforms before heading to school to interact with new roommates and check out campus activities they’re interested in.
Even though today’s teens know a lot about the social media atmosphere and how to use multiple platforms, they can always benefit from edtech. Don’t hesitate to use what you know to inform the teens in your life about safety, and the longevity of a digital footprint.
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