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UpsAndDownsOfSocialMedia

The Ups and Downs of Social Media by Leah Shafer
Usable Knowledge: Harvard Graduate School of Education, May 16, 2018

Social media has grown into a mainstay in adolescents' lives, and as a result, independent schools are searching for how to best support student wellbeing, create policies, and partner with families around its use. The discussion often focuses on social media's effect on students. This article by Leah Shafer summarizes and contextualizes a study completed by adolescent social media expert, Emily Weinstein, who, in a mixed method survey, gathered data from 568 high school students described as frequent social media users. The students reported a range of positive and negative emotions related to self-expression, relational interactions, and exploration. However, 70% of the students described their social media experiences in only positive terms. Shafer's conclusions and suggestions are relevant to educators and leaders in independent schools. She notes that "many teens are having routinely positive experiences on social media." With so much positivity, there may be opportunities for schools to better use social media as a tool to help students share their passions, explore their identity, and pursue their interests. Online challenges also provide opportunities for personal growth. This article provides perspective on how schools might build on the happy, amused, and connected emotions students often feel when using social media.


Submitted By: David Hutchings, Ravenscroft School, Raleigh, NC

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