Here’s a lesson I did today with my 9th grade students to get them thinking about social media, appropriate internet use, and cyberbullying.
Here is what you’ll need for this activity:
- Computer access for each student
- Projector and computer to show a video (see below)
- Social Media Scavenger Hunt handout either on paper or on student devices
Time needed: 30 – 45 minutes depending on how much time you allow for discussion.
Watch the video below. This video is a metaphor for social media, ask the students to explain each part of the video as it relates to Facebook. Tell a personal story about how you’ve used social media in a positive way. Ask students the question, “Is social media use something you should be afraid of?” Take a few responses and then move on to the next activity.
Have students partner up and answer two questions together, “Have you ever seen or heard of someone being unkind on social media? Why do you think this happens?” Give students some time to discuss then ask each person to report on what their partner said. Allow the partner to clarify what the other person said if necessary.
After everyone has spoken allow the group to discuss further. Is there anyone in the group who isn’t on Facebook or Twitter? If so, are they immune from the effects of social media? Has anyone Googled themselves?
Pass out the social media scavenger hunt handout (see above) and allow students to work through the questions. Allow students to ask for clarification, and redirect them if they are spending too long on the first two sections (these are the most fun). Students are collecting some potentially personal information so consider letting your students know you won’t be collecting the worksheet.
Take a Stand
Now that students have been thinking about social media use ask them to vote with their feet (and also allow them to move around after sitting for a while). Designate one side of the room ‘Agree Completely’ and the other side of the room ‘Disagree Completely.’ As you make statements ask students to move to one side of the room or the other depending on their level of personal agreement with your statement. If you’d like students may also go somewhere in the middle to designate ‘agree somewhat’. After you make a statement, and allowing students to take a stand, consider offering a tidbit of data before going to the next question.
- I think online bullying is getting worse (fact: according to a study by the Cyberbullying Research Center it’s gone down since 2004)
- Girls bully online more than boys (fact: according to that same study girls are slightly more likely to bully online, but boys are more likely to post a hurtful picture or video than girls)
- When you delete a photo from Facebook it’s gone forever (probably true, but not if someone has downloaded it and the re-uploads it)
- Most adults don’t understand what teens do on social media (good article with info on this)
- I’m not on Facebook or I’m considering deleting my Facebook profile (some teens are giving Facebook a pass)
- I use a social network that is connected to my mobile phone like Instagram or SnapChat
- I think my social media use will help me get into college or land my first job
Based on what you learned today and discovered about your own social media footprint what would you change? What are your goals for your online presence? Write a one paragraph statement of your goals with three action items for next class.
How do you talk about social media in your school? Is it built into the curriculum? If you try this activity let us know how it goes in the comments!