The Benefits of Social Media for Students
June 9th, 2022
Social media use among today’s youth is a controversial topic. Last week we focused on the negative impact of social media. Today, we’re focusing on other evidence that suggests it can be a powerful tool when it comes to helping youth form positive social connections and express their thoughts and opinions. Beyond in-person social settings, social media platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, may also provide the opportunity to improve student learning and engagement in the classroom. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on when it comes to social media usage and our youth, school leadership and educators are well positioned to educate students on the benefits and responsible use of social media in today’s world.
Eight Positive Aspects of Social Media
From increasing student engagement in the education space to organizing around pertinent issues, here are some of the greatest benefits of social media for today’s youth:
Creating Meaningful Social Interactions
Social media provides students with a constant opportunity to connect and interact with their friends and family across time zones and international borders. In fact, according to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, about 81% of teenagers reported that social media helps them feel more connected to friends (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). Other studies have found that social media gives youth an avenue for sharing diverse thoughts and engaging in more meaningful conversations by eliminating the need for small talk (Rawath.S et al., 2019).
Providing Community for Marginalized Youth
Another benefit of social media is the ability to expand one’s social circle. In particular, studies have shown that social media can be a significant emotional support system for LGBTQIA+ youth by providing access to a community of like-minded individuals. Young people in the LGBTQIA+ are even more likely to have online friends than their non-LGBTQIA+ peers (Nesi, 2020).
An India-based study found that 68% of teenagers have reported that social media has been a supportive and helpful resource during difficult times, further demonstrating its potential to support student wellbeing by creating a sense of community (Singh N. & Guruprasad, 2019).
Raising Awareness of Important Issues
Due to its global reach and accessibility, social media provides adolescents with a tool to amplify their voices like never before. Sharing information and networking with fellow youth can help students find like-minded individuals, organize and garner support for important causes, and stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the world. As can be seen with the increase in voter turnout due to social media, students can inspire each other to take action and create change through online platforms (Singh N. & Guruprasad, 2019). One caveat is the spreading of misinformation. As educators, we can help our youth discern between credible resources and false information.
Providing Access to Educational Content
For the first time in our history, students have access to a world of information right at their fingertips. While social media contains its fair share of entertainment and social content, it also provides virtually endless learning opportunities. YouTube, for example, can help students learn new skills, reinforce content that was taught in the classroom, and answer questions about assignments (Singh N. & Guruprasad, 2019).
Increasing Student Engagement
Beyond social settings, social media has the potential to increase student engagement within the classroom by strengthening the connection between students and teachers. Implementing class-specific social media pages allows students to ask questions about homework assignments, gather notes from missed classes, and collaborate with fellow students on assignments and projects (Siddiqui & Singh, 2016; Faizi et al., 2013).
Identifying and Supporting Students Struggling with Mental Health
Due to the vast sharing of information and personal data, social media is a valuable tool for data research. Nesi (2020) suggests a way to utilize data collection to positively impact youth. By proactively identifying students who may be struggling with depression and other mental health issues, educators and leaders have the opportunity to provide support and resources early on.
Machine learning algorithms with the ability to detect social-media based signs of depression, PTSD, suicidality, and other mental health ailments have already been developed, so there is the potential that they will be more widely used in the future (Nesi, 2020).
Helping Students through Developmental Periods
Social media can be a valuable resource for youth going through developmental phases or social/emotional issues. While students may feel embarrassed or nervous seeking advice from classmates or adults, social media allows students to share information and note if others have had similar experiences (Siddiqui & Singh, 2016). This could potentially help youth feel more confident in social settings in addition to finding support from others.
Finding Motivation and Inspiration
An often overlooked benefit of social media is the opportunity to find motivation and inspiration. Platforms like Instagram make it easy to follow positive role models that inspire students to be creative and pursue their goals. With an algorithm based on user activity and interests, it’s easy for students to find new mental health, physical, and personal development practices. It’s important to encourage students to only follow accounts that make them feel good about themselves and unfollow those accounts that make them feel bad about their bodies or make them feel left out.
Social Media in Moderation
Social media can be a helpful and powerful tool when used in a positive and safe manner. With the opportunity to create social connections, expand social circles, and raise awareness of important issues, social media has the potential to help students create change and broadcast their voices like never before. Perhaps the greatest benefit is helping youth feel less alone and creating a sense of community in new and innovative ways. School leadership and educators possess the influence to help students harness the power of social media responsibly and use it to aid in their personal and social development.
Anderson, Monica & Jiang, Jingjing. (28, Nov 28). Teens’ Social Media Habits and Experiences. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/11/28/teens-social-media-habits-and-experiences/
Faizi, Rdouan et al., (2013). Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education. International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy (iJEP), 3(4), 50-53. 10.3991/ijep.v3i4.2836
Nesi, Jacqueline. (2020). The Impact of Social Media on Youth Mental Health: Challenges and Opportunities. North Carolina Medical Journal, 81(2), 116-121. 10.18043/ncm.81.2.116
Rawath.S, Sushma et al., (2019). A Study on Impact of Social Media on Youth. Journal of Management (JOM), 6(1), 89-96. 10.34218/jom.6.1.2019.010
Siddiqui, Shabnoor & Singh, Tajinder. (2016). Social Media Its Impact with Positive and Negative Aspects. International Journal of Computer Applications Technology and Research, 5(2), 71-75. 10.7753/ijcatr0502.1006
Singh N, Divya & Guruprasad, Dr. N. (2019). Impact of Social Media on Youth. SSRN Electronic Journal. 27-34. 10.2139/ssrn.3506607
November 7th, 2022 at 4:26 am
So true! Social media gives so much help in terms of education and the social being of students. Thank you for sharing this. Great content!