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Colonial Middle School students evaluate pros and cons of social media

Colonial Middle School students evaluate pros and cons of social media
students show their infographics about social media

From left to right are Drew Katronick, Pari Haroon, Aseel Elhassan, Rylee McDade, and Angelina Markovic.

Colonial Middle School students had the chance to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to social media as part of a recent English/Language Arts (ELA) unit. 

The seventh-graders analyzed and researched the pros and cons of social media usage and were then tasked with creating an infographic to support their position. In the process, students learned quite a bit about the upsides and downsides to apps that they may use to communicate with friends, while also gaining experience in how to design graphics using platforms like Canva. Students were encouraged to give thought to color theory, stock images, and layout to create eye-catching projects.

Students then voted on which infographics they thought were the best. Those posters have been laminated and will be posted around the school as a way to remind the entire student body about safe and healthy social media habits.The student winners included: Kai Sarkar, Moira Pearson, Annabel O’Neill, Zach Greenberg, Molly Carder, Sanvi Shevade, Leighton Hollenbeck, Maeve O’Connell, Piano Kaewchaiyo, Ayesha Parvez, Drew Katronick, Aseel Elhassan, Rylee McDade, Pari Haroon, Angelina Markovic, Samaa Alhalfe, Joseph De Guzman, Sadie Keys, and Lucy Prodoehl.

Students display their infographic posters

From left to right are Leighton Hollenbeck, Sanvi Shevade, Maeve O'Connell, Piano Kaewchaiyo, and Ayesha Parvez.

Sharing the students’ work is one more way Colonial Middle School continues to place a strong emphasis on digital citizenship. Speaker Paul Sanfrancesco has visited the school several times in the past two years to speak with both students and parents/guardians about the importance of using social media responsibly and with restraint. 

It was clear that the ELA project prompted students to think carefully about what they do online and how they use social media. Molly chose to communicate about the cons of social media, and her poster shares information about the impact it can have on mental health. She pointed out that social media creates “reward pathways” that can compel users to continue going back to social media for the reward of seeing who has commented or liked a post, for example.

“It has the same effect as any other addiction,” she said.

Some of the students admitted that they feel the pull of social media a bit too much. Zach referenced “phantom buzz syndrome,” in which he sometimes feels as though his phone is buzzing in his pocket even when no notifications have come through. He said putting his infographic together has made him more mindful of the time he spends on social media and on his phone, and that it’s important to set boundaries.

Students display their infographic posters

From left to right are Kai Sakar, Moira Pearson, Annabel O'Neill, Zach Greenberg, and Molly Carder.

Samaa also said that her research helped her to learn the importance of boundaries.

“Don’t use it too much and be cautious about what you post,” she said.

Lucy agreed. 

“Even if you delete it, it can come back to you,” she said.

Others saw the benefits of social media. Moira said that in her research, she found that marginalized groups might use social media to promote activism, speak out on issues, and bring more attention to their causes. 

Angelina’s infographic showed that teens can make meaningful connections and use social media to create supportive programs or fundraisers. Aseel’s infographic included information about how a Muslim-American teen created an app to stop stereotypes against Muslims. She said that she tried to use imagery and colors that would make her information stand out. Other students said they used colors strategically to convey a sense of alarm in an infographic stating the cons

Students display their infographic posters

From left to right are Samaa Alhalfe and Lucy Prodoehl.

of social media. 

“Infographic design can be a challenge, but in the end, it is worth it,” said Aseel.

To learn more about digital citizenship, we encourage families to click here to visit our new digital citizenship page.