Teachers Take on Social Media

Bringing technology and the growing digital age into the classroom


Ms. Baker’s public Instagram page, used for school as well as life updates that her students can view. (Screenshot of Baker’s Instagram account)

Maya Sagett, Staff Reporter

In the ever-changing world of social media, it has continued to move through the generations, affecting each one in a different way. Teenagers are becoming more and more attached to their screens and adults are noticing it. In particular, high school teachers have spotted this widespread phenomenon of social media and some are turning it into a helpful way to expand their classrooms. 

PCH social studies teacher Stephanie Baker has her own Instagram account that her students have access to; this is beneficial both for them to learn more about their teacher, and also for Baker to have another way to connect to high schoolers. She notes that there are many positive and negative correlations with teenagers’ relationships and their understanding of life that social media brings. As mental health has grown more prevalent in the media as well, she sees that it is helping adolescents become more in-tune with their feelings and relating to others, as well. 

“Sometimes social media can feel like a job and it adds a lot of anxiety and stress to young people’s lives. However, it also has a positive impact because it provides a platform and outlet for young people to meet and discuss this anxiety and stress. In the past few years I have seen great advancement in understanding mental health and the ability for people to articulate their struggles with it,” Baker said.

Bringing social media into classrooms is also something teachers have been finding effective. English teacher Marrisa Thomas finds that allowing them to use what most adolescents are already so used to is a great way to incorporate their social lives into school. 

“At the beginning of the year I give students an assignment called ‘You don’t know my story’ and they get to use their creative talents to express how people view them incorrectly versus who they really are. So I let them make TikTok videos, Instagram collages, use drawing platforms, etc. to do that,” Thomas said.

New to Central High in 2020, science teacher Mollie Oakeley uses social media to keep up with the constant cycle of trends and fads that come with social media use.

“I start each of my classes on Tuesdays & Wednesdays by playing a TikTok of the week. It helps us begin the class with high spirits!” Oakeley said. “I am only 10 years older than the freshmen, but new trends are always cycling through. So social media is a great resource for keeping up with the latest and greatest.”

Not only used for keeping up with what’s popular, Thomas says that being up-to-date and in the loop about what her students are seeing gives her a better understanding of what they are being influenced by every day.

“I think it helps me understand some of the language students are using, and I feel like the things I see on social media helps me to know what my students are being influenced by as well,” Thomas said. “It keeps me up to date on pop culture, which I try to use in the classroom to help make connections and create relevance.”

Although there are some beneficial and influential aspects to social media, Baker knows that it is ultimately a huge weight on teens’ shoulders that they carry with them every day. Being constantly connected to everyone around you can have its good parts, but there is the inevitable negativity that also comes with it.

“Social media has grown into a full blown commercial industry, which I think has had negative and positive impacts on the lives and behaviors of high school students. A negative impact is that I think there is a deep pressure to conform or project a false image online,” Baker said. “Sometimes social media can feel like a job and it adds a lot of anxiety and stress to young people’s lives.”

All in all, teachers see everything that teenagers are seeing one way or another. They understand the challenges that teenagers face living in the digital age. Thomas says that along with that, social media can be used as a great outlet for finding new learning strategies to push them towards success. 

“I love to post videos of students engaged in lessons and I think that’s cool for students to see themselves as a part of my classroom community and reflect on their own learning experiences,” Thomas said.