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An education in social media.

The school where girls learn how one viral tweet can ruin your life

Social media is everywhere, on phones, laptops, tablets; everywhere. People use it to boost their business following, they use it to show off their selfies; it’s a way of promoting a good image to the masses. However, if used in the wrong way, it can ruin businesses, self-esteem and lives.

Teenagers are said to be spending a third of their life on social media and many could be seen to be very naïve when it comes to what they end up posting online. They can end up joining in with cyber-bullying without even realising, with thoughtless comments, thinking it’s just ‘harmless name calling’. They can send sexualised images of themselves, getting themselves and the receiver in trouble, as well as putting themselves in a dangerous position to online predators. These things can come back to haunt them; social media is able to be accessed by anyone, when applying for a job how are we to know if a potential employer won’t look at our Facebook or Instagram accounts? Once a picture, a tweet or a status is published, it’s out of your control if taken the wrong way.

In schools the main messages about social media are negative, however, Heathfield School in Ascot want to create a positive approach when teaching their students about appropriate use and interpretation of social media. The internet should be used positively, to promote people and business, rather than attacking self-esteem. For example, an Instagram picture seen by thousands of teenage girls, promoting the ‘ideal’ woman, which infact is unachievable without Photoshop, can damage more than just their confidence. Research has found that teens that use the internet are more likely to say they are unhappy.

The girls at Heathfield School approach students and offer advice if they have received backlash on the internet, if students make a mistake, they can learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again and affect them in the future. They want to get away from the ‘you shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that approach’ and make students realise the greatest lesson of all is experience.

Social media is a marvellous tool when used the right way, schools should be promoting how to use it in a positive way, rather than telling students how to run their Instagram feeds and what dog memes they can and can’t share on their Facebook.

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