In light of the current social and political climate, it is essential to guide students on how to engage with social media when confronted with controversial issues. Encouraging responsible and thoughtful behavior in online interactions is crucial. Here are some recommendations to provide to students:

  1. Fact-Checking: Students should prioritize following reputable fact-checking accounts on social media to enhance their media literacy. With the rampant spread of disinformation, these accounts serve as reliable sources, offering well-researched and verified information. By incorporating this practice into constructive online habits, students gain access to accurate data and develop critical thinking skills, contributing to a more informed and discerning digital community.
  2. Don't Respond to Posts by Unknown Users: Advise students not to engage with social media posts from individuals they don't know. Engaging with strangers rarely leads to productive discussions. Instead, these interactions can escalate into heated and hateful exchanges.
  3. Unfollow Offensive Content: Encourage students to curate their online experiences by unfollowing accounts that consistently post offensive or hurtful content. It's important to protect their mental well-being and avoid "hate-following" individuals who espouse views with which they strongly disagree. Such interactions can be detrimental to their emotional health.
  4. Report Hate Speech to Online Platforms: Students should report explicit hate speech, threats of violence, or misinformation to the respective social media platform. Every major platform has a process for reporting inappropriate or offensive content. Promote responsible online citizenship by reporting and not tolerating hate speech.
  5. Avoid Engaging in Online Battles: Discourage students from responding to controversial posts, even when the author is someone they know. Social media is not an effective platform for productive discussions. Instead, advise them to engage in face-to-face conversations for more meaningful dialogue.
  6. Foster Open and Curious Conversations: If a student feels comfortable speaking directly with the person who posted or shared offensive content, suggest approaching them with openness and curiosity. Encourage them to ask questions to understand the motivations behind the post and respectfully explain why the content was hurtful. Oftentimes, people post or share content without fully comprehending the impact of that content.
  7. Seek Support: Students who feel uncomfortable directly addressing the issue with the poster should consider reaching out to their grade dean, advisor, or parents for guidance and support. Foster a culture of support where students feel comfortable seeking help and sharing their experiences with trusted adults.
  8. Practice Empathy: Remind students that social media posts can affect people profoundly, and empathy is crucial in our school community. Encourage them to be mindful of how their posts might be perceived by their classmates, especially those who might disagree or come from other perspectives, and to consider the potential emotional impact on others. Encourage constructive and compassionate communication.

We believe that these recommendations will help students navigate social media responsibly and contribute to a more respectful and understanding online environment. It is our collective responsibility to instill these values and practices in students to foster a safe and supportive digital community. Thank you for your commitment to the well-being and growth of your students.

Additional Resources: 
How to Be An Advocate on Social Media Right Now: A Guide for the Community
K-12 Schools Must be Equipped to Fight Antisemitism

For more ideas about social media - see AJC on Instagram