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Teachers: Talking to Students About Social Media and Money

Teachers: Talking to Students About Social Media and Money

Opening a social media app -

Many teachers — well, those who are under the age of, say 30 or so — know what the world was like before social media. They were able to go through school when they were kids without the added pressure of constantly checking or posting to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or other platforms. And as we know social media is having a profound effect on kids these days.

And that includes how they handle their money — what little they may have, anyway. 

We’ve written before about how social media and finances intersect. Among other things, social media use can make people feel bad or negative about their financial situations. It can pressure them to spend money on things they don’t need, or that don’t fit within their budgets. It can distract them, taking time away from work or school, which can affect earnings. And, of course, there can be a “keeping up with the Joneses” type of effect, which can spur people to spend in an effort to stay socially relevant.

Social media, money, and students

In short, it’s a mess. Social media has its positives, sure, but we’re still trying to figure out the tightrope walk of how to use and talk about it. Especially when it comes to kids. Add in money? Now you’re walking a tightrope and trying to juggle at the same time. 

That’s because money is a tricky topic, as you know. And a student using social media to flaunt what they may have — and what their classmates may lack — can make things even more difficult. As such, it may be a good idea to rope in some conversations about social media into your financial literacy or personal finance lessons. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a standalone lesson, but it is something that kids are using or contending with every day, and for that reason, it may be wise to at least bring it up in the classroom.

The question, though, is how? For starters, you could discuss some of the basics we just covered: That social media use can have a profound impact on your mood or emotions, that it can persuade you to do certain things (or not do them) as it relates to your money or finances, and that it can be a big distraction, which can affect other areas of their lives.

Yes, as a teacher, you now have to play the role of a psychologist. We know that’s not what you signed up for, but here we are!

With all of this in mind, try to be mindful of areas or topics where discussing social media may be beneficial or helpful. Budgeting may be a good example. If you’re teaching a lesson involving budgeting, perhaps you can talk about ads in social media feeds, and how they’re designed to spur viewers to action — and potentially bust their budgets. Or even ads for certain services may catch students’ attention, such as sports betting apps, or even brokerages. Kids may have access to these things — high school seniors may even be old enough to sign up for an account — and can get themselves in trouble without knowing what they’re doing.

This can be a teachable moment! 

Again, we know that you’re not social media experts. You’re not psychologists, or branding experts, and you can’t control what students do, see, or share on social media. But it’s a part of our world now, whether we like it or not. And chances are, many students have never had a sit-down regarding social media use. But perhaps, when roping money and their finances into the discussion, it may strike a nerve and open up their perspectives.

Check out the Money Vehicle textbook — you can find it here on Amazon. And if you like what you see, you can get more content sent directly to your inbox! Sign up for the Money Vehicle Movement Newsletter!

And check out our white paper: “Strategies for Increasing Financial Literacy Rates Among High School and College Students”

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