For the past several years, we have had a cool little project in several school districts. We facilitate digital leadership skills in high school students by helping them uncover strengths, improve presentation skills, model appropriate leadership skills and deepen their understanding of digital safety and privacy. As a capstone, participants join me to present part of a digital safety presentation.
Students have learned a lot, but as is always the case, I have learned a lot from them about teen attitudes about social media use. What have I learned?
1. Staying in touch! Students appreciate social media primarily because it is a great way to stay in touch in touch with friends. Over and over again I hear that this is the primary benefit of social media to students. The powerful draw of staying connected is what makes it unlikely that social media will play a lesser role in their life.
2. Drama fatigue! Teens are really tired of the drama being played out on social media. Many select less “popular” social media platforms because there is usually less drama there than on Twitter.
3. The most popular social media platform! Their favorite social media platform is the one that their friends use. It doesn’t matter if there is a “hot new platform”, they stick to one platform and that is the one used by their friends.
4. Too much screen time! Teens understand that they spend too much time with their screens. Many already monitor their screen via apps or features like Apple’s Screen Time.
5. Let’s talk! They think it is important to talk about social media use! But they do not want to revisit the same old tired social media topics. They are interested in ways to protect their privacy, limit their screen time, deal with digital bullies and trolls, and keep their digital reputation intact.