“Likes vs. Learning: The Real Cost of Social Media for Schools,” released by the AFT and its partners, details how school districts across the country are experiencing significant burdens as they respond to tech’s predatory and prevalent influence in the classroom, and to the youth mental health crisis caused by the unregulated environment enjoyed by the tech companies that designed their platforms.
School districts have mustered significant resources to mitigate in-classroom disruptions and grapple with an increase in depression and suicidal ideation among students, dangerous and disruptive behavior, and bullying and harassment by and directed at students, as well as the popularity of dangerous viral challenges that originate from social media. Notably, the increased attention to tackling tech companies’ omnipresent role in children’s lives has pulled resources away from the core mission of education.
Specifically, educators recommended five guiding principles for social media companies to redesign their products to create better classroom environments and safer online spaces for children:
- Prioritize safety for children.
- Protect students from overuse and addictive-like behavior.
- Protect students’ privacy.
- Protect students from risky algorithms.
- Directly engage and work with schools and families.