Middle school can be a difficult period for students, especially as they explore social media and the digital world. For children and adults alike, it is so easy to keep our eyes glued to our devices. Before we know it, several hours have passed by while we scrolled through Facebook or Instagram. Using social media excessively can damage students’ self-esteem while excessive screen time can take a toll on their physical and mental health and decrease productivity.
It’s important for middle school students to adopt healthy technology habits early on to support their mental health and wellbeing. The classroom provides a perfect opportunity to learn about digital wellness. #ICANHELP, a nonprofit that promotes online safety and positivity, offers several ideas that middle school educators can introduce to their students:
- Deactivate one social media account for 21 days. Sign out of your account and delete it to remove any temptations. If it’s difficult to go without this platform for the full 21 days, it may be time to re-analyze your relationship with social media. Whenever you feel an urge to redownload the app, resist it by finding more meaningful activities to fill your time, like starting on important tasks or exercising.
- Remove device checking from your wake-up routine. Spend your first hour in the morning on more productive tasks like drafting a to-do list or completing chores. Seeing countless notifications and messages after you wake up can be overwhelming and distracting. You will have a much more accomplished day if you begin by choosing mindfulness over staring at your phone.
- Delete negative contacts from your phone. Scroll through your contact list and erase any contacts that spark a negative emotion within you, such as jealousy or self-criticism. As you do this, reflect on the people that bring positivity to your life and reach out to them. This not only ensures more positive energy in your daily life but also provides an opportunity to reflect on your relationships.
- Remove alerts and notifications. Mute the notification sounds or remove notifications entirely. Checking your phone after receiving notifications or messages interrupts your focus on important assignments. Both productivity and academic performance improve when alerts and notifications are not there to distract you from the task at hand.
- Curate your social media experience. Evaluate who you follow on social media and unfollow anyone that sparks negative emotions. Search for pages and people that motivate you and bring you happiness. Curating your feed to see posts that inspire you and bring you joy will make social media a positive influence rather than one that hurts your self-confidence.
This advice is just a small portion of the many valuable activities in #ICANHELP’s 21-Day Digital Wellness Challenge. Participating in the full challenge in your classroom can help your students improve their relationships with their devices.
Inspire your students to rethink how they use technology and social media by signing up to complete the challenge together as a group.
For more information, visit the challenge information page: 21-Day Digital Wellness Challenge. If your class or school would like to participate, please reach out to #ICANHELP Executive Director Kim Karr, firstname.lastname@example.org, for a group discount.
As you incorporate digital wellness lessons and strategies in your classroom, inspire your students with stories of how kids and teens just like them are using digital for good. #ICANHELP’s annual Digital4Good Summit that celebrates youth innovation is happening on April 20-23. Sign up for the virtual LiveStream and host a watch party for your students. During the one-hour LiveStream, these young innovators will share how they are using digital media and technology to solve problems and advance social, economic, environmental, and educational causes.
Learn more about the Digital4Good Summit and sign up for a watch party here!
Arianna Berman is a student at Tufts University and a #ICANHELP PR Intern