As a child of the ‘90s, I grew up in the wild Wild West of the internet. It was not until I was in middle school when the internet became available to me to use at my “leisure” (on a hard-wired computer connected to our landline phone). Social media at that time involved messaging and interacting with friends on AOL and Myspace , and downloading and sharing songs. I was even a part of the early years of Facebook when you were required to have a college email to join. The internet and early social media were thrown at me during my formative years, and parents and teachers alike had no idea how to prepare us for navigating this new technology.
Social media today is leaps and bounds from what it was in my teen years. One of the biggest differences is the constant accessibility. When I was in grade school, I only had access to social media when I used my home-based computer, equaling maybe 1-3 hours a day. My mother would inevitably kick me off the internet to make a phone call, so the time I could actually use the internet was very limited. Today, with many students owning smart phones, their access is far greater. A New York Times article states, “On average, daily screen use went up among tweens (ages 8 to 12) to five hours and 33 minutes from four hours and 44 minutes, and to eight hours and 39 minutes from seven hours and 22 minutes for teens (ages 13 to 18).”3 That is about a whopping 60 hours of screen time per week for teens today!
There are many positive aspects of social media such as connecting with friends, raising awareness for social issues, and providing helpful information, but there are also negative aspects that students need help navigating. It can be overwhelming to think about preparing students to make good choices and practice caution with social media. The Common Core State Standards K-12 Technology Skills list Digital Citizenship standards for elementary that require students to be able to “Demonstrate the responsible use of technology and an understanding of ethics and safety issues in using electronic media at home, in school, and in society.”2 This one standard alone is a hefty and complex area of content on top of all of the other standards and subjects to be taught throughout the day. Thankfully, there are many great resources to help guide your instruction with current information. Online resources like these Common Sense Media1 videos can be a great tool to use for short and engaging mini lessons. You can also find a broad selection of books to help support learning about social media at all ages. Below are some newly published books for K-12 learners that would be a fantastic addition to your social media instruction.
Manners Online (Manners Matter) by Emma Bassier
The Technology Tail: A Digital Footprint Story by Julia Cook
#Goldilocks: A Hashtag Cautionary Tale (Online Safety Picture Books) by Jeanne Willis
A Garfield Guide to Posting Online: Pause Before You Post (Garfield’s Guide to Digital Citizenship) by Scott Nickel
Better Connected: How Girls Are Using Social Media for Good (Orca Think: 5) by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
How Does Social Media Work? (Digital Planet) by Nikole Brooks Bethea
Rethink The Internet: How to Make the Digital World A Lot Less Sucky by Trisha Prabhu
Can You Become a Social Media Influencer? (You Choose Books: Chasing Fame and Fortune) by Eric Braun
Understanding Social Media (Cracking the Media Literacy Code) by Pamela Dell
Social Media Addiction (Dealing with Addiction) by Marie-Therese Miller
The Power of Social Media by Stuart A. Kallen
What You Post Lasts Forever: Managing Your Social Media Presence by Alexis Burling
1 B., Eisha. “10 Fun Digital Citizenship Videos for K–5 Classrooms.” Common Sense Education, September 20, 2019. https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/10-fun-digital-citizenship-videos-for-k-5-classrooms.
2 “Common Core State Standards K-12 Technology Skills Scope … – Sharpschool.” Accessed September 12, 2022. https://cdn5-ss10.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_288644/File/Common-Core-State-Standards-K8.pdf.
3 Moyer, Melinda Wenner. “Kids as Young as 8 Are Using Social Media More than Ever, Study Finds.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 24, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/24/well/family/child-social-media-use.html.