University of Birmingham project helps teachers understand effects of social media

A new, free online course aims to help teachers use social media to improve young people's wellbeing and mental health

The University of Birmingham has launched a project to help teachers understand how social media affects children’s mental health.

The free online course will be delivered by the university’s school of sport, exercise and rehabilitation sciences.

Course leader, Dr Victoria Goodyear, said: “We know that social media is an essential and often valuable part of life for young people. As adults we need to be sure we are equipping ourselves to engage with these resources in informed ways, and in ways that will enhance the education and wellbeing of young people.”

The course – Optimising Social Media for Youth Health and Wellbeing – is designed for primary, secondary and trainee teachers. In particular, those in pastoral care, computer science/ICT education, personal social and health education, and physical education.

In the course launch video, Goodyear said “most young people spend overs 20 hours a week online”.

On the welcome page of the course website, organisers have said the course is a way “to reach young people and understand something of their worlds and offer support”.

It is hoped those completing the course will be able to critically engage with social media during lessons and in conversations with students. Teachers will also learn how to use social media as a learning resource.

Teachers will design a social media curriculum and develop new tools to evaluate social media teaching in a school setting. The teachers’ social media curriculums will be published in a book at the end of the course.