An important goal of the Middle School Human Development course is to increase student knowledge of important personal, social-emotional, and wellness topics in order to encourage better and healthier choices by students. Since much of a student’s non-academic life can often be centered around social media, 8th Grade students in Ms. Wallace’s Human Development class recently explored the impact of social media on mental health.
In class, students viewed The Social Dilemma, a documentary that helped them deepen their understanding and further examine the benefits and dangers of the use of technology on our mental and physical health. Then, seeing a perfect overlap and connection to the most recent BCIL Humane Technology Impact Challenge, students began a multi-day collaborative project to address some of the harms that arise from our use of social media and technology.
Over the course of two workshops with the BCIL, students collaborated in groups to discuss their personal experiences with social media and technology, and to find common themes in the challenges they experience. After choosing a topic, students consulted the Center for Humane Technology’s Ledger of Harms to add to their research and understanding. To encourage active listening and build empathy, students learned how to prepare interview questions and then interviewed peers to hear new perspectives and better understand their chosen challenge. Finally, students assessed their findings and worked together to create innovative, creative, feasible, and impactful solutions. Joining other students from around the country, our 8th Grade Human Development students submitted their detailed solutions to the BCIL Impact Challenge on Humane Technology. After completing the project, one student noted, “It was more fun than I thought it would be. Coming up with actual solutions was a good way to explore these issues.”
Ms. Wallace and the BCIL team were thrilled by the students’ engagement, maturity, and thoughtfulness during the project. Ms. Wallace notes that, “the collaboration with the BCIL and the [Impact Challenge] was a perfect opportunity to encourage students to think critically and propose solutions for the humane and healthy use of technology.”