Classroom Technology

TikTok, Gas, Twitter: How Social Media Is Influencing Education

By Lauraine Langreo — December 14, 2022 3 min read
Close up of a young woman holding a smartphone with like and love icons floating around the phone in her hands.
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Social media has certainly influenced the way schools work—for better or worse.

Schools use social media platforms to share updates or promote events, educators use it to share lesson plans or ideas with their peers, and students use it to connect with friends.

On the other hand, social media use has created some big problems for educators and students. School leaders have to deal with cyberbullying of students and even staff members, viral challenges (think, TikTok) have disrupted instructional time and encouraged destruction of school property, and big data privacy problems often come with social media use.

Some of these challenges are being tackled at the federal and state levels. For example, the U.S. Congress has introduced bills to crack down on how social media companies handle user data and how they determine whether or not to take down problematic content. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, for example, recently crafted a bipartisan bill to ban TikTok, amid fears the app could be used to spy on Americans and manipulate content. That bill comes at the same time that TikTok is wildly popular among K-12 students as well as many educators.

Education Week has extensive coverage that examines the benefits and pitfalls of using social media. Here is a collection of articles and videos Education Week has published on this topic.

How to use social media to improve school culture

A female and male professional with open laptops and surrounded by chat bubbles and social media icons.

For school and district leaders, social media can be a powerful platform to connect with their school communities and share the good work they’re doing. But at the same time, it can be daunting because every piece of information an educator creates or shares could be misinterpreted or even misappropriated.

District leaders share their reasons for using social media as well as tips on how to make social media work in the best ways possible.

An assistant principal shares how he uses TikTok and YouTube to improve school culture.

A teacher talks about how he uses TikTok to build relationships, have fun, and make extra money.

Integrating social tools into lesson plans

Image of a group of teens using their mobile devices.

Some teachers say they use social media to meet students where they are, and then engage them in deeper learning through other approaches.

For example, some teachers are using social media to help students understand the impact of the technology on their behavior, attention spans, and even brain development. Others are using it as a media literacy tool to help students analyze sources and contextualize information. And, sometimes, educators use social media to share bite-size lessons.

How to tackle data privacy problems, fake accounts, and TikTok challenges

All seeing eyes watching a boy on his laptop as he sits at the top of a giant staircase that resembles the Facebook thumbs up icon.

School social media accounts offer a space to swap pictures of school events, build an online school community, and boost school spirit. But they also pose some serious problems for student privacy. Experts weigh in on what schools should do about privacy concerns.

There are also concerns about fake accounts representing schools or districts. Read more about what to do when there are fake accounts misrepresenting your school or district and what organizations are doing to help districts advocate for faster verification of their authentic accounts and quicker removal of imposters.

Education Week also has guides on combatting the problems that come with social media, ways schools can respond to TikTok challenges, and strategies on how to spot fake news articles.

New social apps educators should be aware of

Group of Young Adults - Tennagers On Social Media

The social media landscape is ever-changing. Here’s what you need to know about the newest social media apps that are popular with students:

  • With the Gas app, users can only say nice things to each other, by participating in polls with an ostensibly positive spin. But experts say there’s still potential for hurt feelings and even bullying.
  • Yubo tells teens it will help them “find your crew based on your interests” and allows users to create a profile, share their location, and check out images of people in their area and around the world.
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