EA has launched a new program aimed at helping Middle and Upper School students better navigate the tricky challenges of managing social media.
The Social Institute's training modules, called #WinAtSocial, use games and discussion to teach and empower students to think more in-depth about how they maneuver their social world.
"Our students are given access to technology but they are not always taught how to use it," explained Middle School Psychologist Dr. Jessica Anderson. "It is a huge part of their lives, and that brings pressure and expectations that they are not prepared for."
Eighth grader Maya Raman is one of four EA student ambassadors for the program. "My role as an ambassador is to report to the creators any problems and things that we like," explained Maya. "I also try and help teachers struggling with the game details."
"My role as an ambassador is to make sure students like me feel comfortable in our social world," shared 7th grade ambassador Torey Cooper. He has also recommended making some tweaks to the website.
The new "gamified" program is being used in advisories, English and history classes, along with the Middle School Mind, Body, Spirit elective. Students use a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to review the prompts and then reflect and discuss the "real-world situation" as their teacher facilitates.
"We need to help them navigate this huge piece of their lives just as we teach how to navigate other important aspects of communication and socialization," shared Dr. Anderson. "For example, history teachers have been running lessons on the election as they discuss how to watch a debate with an open mind and what qualities to look for in a leader."
"I like how you don't feel any pressure to get points like other games," observed Maya. "It also is super cool how you can see your school and nation's average answers."
"This platform provides an opportunity for students to engage in meaningful conversations about real issues they are facing," shared Middle School English Teacher and 8th Grade Advisor Heather DuPont, Hon. "I like how each lesson is geared to a specific grade and is built with input from students across the country."
The first round of topics include: Play to Your Core, Protect Your Privacy Like You're Famous, Strike a Balance, and Cyberback.
"My advisory was engaged in conversation, and they especially enjoyed the game-like style of sharing their beliefs," said Mrs. DuPont. "It was really fun to see how the responses from our small groups compared to EA at large and then to the entire nation."
"I'm learning ways to engage in conversation without seeming rude in any way," said Maya. "It's important to be me because I have been stressing talking about politics and discrimination, and this game is a great way to convey that."
"The goal is to teach character building and problem solving and to support healthy communication and advocacy," said Dr. Anderson.
"We tackled pressures that students face," said Mrs. DuPont. "There are many questions surrounding social media and the stress that exists surrounding certain platforms. We talked about the various stressors in their lives and where many of those pressures come from."
Students and teachers will take part in #WinAtSocial lessons throughout the school year.