What Teachers Can Do About the Dangers of Social Media in Students’ Lives
“Teachers should encourage students to practice critical thinking… no matter how righteous it may seem”
Social media is all around us; meeting someone who doesn’t engage in any of the available platforms is rare. As social media has continued to develop and further integrate into society’s basic functions, there are dangers that teachers can help students better understand before it’s too late.
From hurting journalism to promoting outrage culture, social media should be treated with caution. Here’s what teachers can do to help.
Bust the Influencer Myth
Social media influencers are prevalent on every new media platform. Influencers are individuals with large followings who advertise brands and products in exchange for payment.
Some of these influencers make a very decent living through sponsorship deals as a full-time job. However, the reality for most influencers is that they have another form of income, one that is more reliable. This allows influencers to have a steady paycheck and no financial dependence on brand deals.
It’s essential for teachers to inform their students that most influencers, regardless of the size of their following, still have a “normal job.” Students should be encouraged to focus on preparing themselves for the traditional job market.
The idea is to help students understand the economics of social media influencing – there is a small chance one can become a full-time influencer. It is more prudent to study hard, join the traditional workforce, and grow an influencer business on the side. That way, the student can become a full-time influencer if the venture grows dramatically.
Outrage is the modus operandi in isolated social media echo chambers. In these echo chambers, Internet users take isolated statements, social media posts, and news story quotes out of context. When the ensuing outrage leaks into public discourse, celebrities, politicians, businesspeople, and other prominent civilians are forced to offer apologies; other times, professionals lose their jobs and are blacklisted from their respective industries, lest they again were to draw the ire of the echo chambers.
“Help students understand the economics of social media influencing – there is a small chance one can become a full-time influencer”
This outrage culture not only corrodes public discourse but it also willfully discards nuance in favour of dishonest uproar. This is why teachers should encourage students to practice critical thinking during the height of outrage du jour, no matter how righteous it may seem.
Furthermore, it’s important to emphasise the gravity and necessity of open thought and communication. Classrooms should be encouraged to tactfully discuss controversial topics, rather than shut the discussion down.
In the near future, local governments will need to require the teaching of lesson plans that instruct students on how to assess the trustworthiness of Internet publications and gauge the accuracy of news stories.
Protect Future Job Prospects
It’s more relevant today than ever before to be careful about what you post on the Internet.
Teachers know the penalties of engaging in inappropriate social behaviour online. They know not to accept friend requests from students or post certain things where a student can see it. Educators have been fired for what they’ve posted online.
It’s important for teachers to let students know that careless use of social media can affect future job opportunities. Hiring committees will look through a candidate’s social media presence to learn more about the person’s character, habits, attitudes, and culture fit within the company.
It’s critical to help students understand that limiting their time on social media can be incredibly beneficial to their career. If anything, students aspiring to embark on a specific career should promote their related internships, community service, and extracurricular activities on social media.
Teachers should discuss the importance of personal branding: It’s important to think clearly and intentionally about what you post. Impulse posting will usually hurt students.
About the author: Jason Patel is the founder of Transizion, a college counselling and career services company that provides boot camps and tutoring on college applications, college essays, career development, and finding the right job or internship.