K-State launches school-age social media behavior pilot survey



Findings will aid educators in youth development and wellness

MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Research and Extension has launched a pilot program this spring that will measure students’ social media citizenship behaviors.

Organizers say the participants in the initial program include five Kansas schools, grades 6-12 and more than 400 students.

For the study, students will take an anonymous, online survey at school measuring their social media behavior in a variety of areas, including competitive and excessive use, content sharing, personal safety, conflict, collaboration and connecting with others. Results will be shared with school administrators and educators to help them identify and prioritize educational opportunities related to student social media use.

Schools will also receive a customized social media education toolkit with access to curriculum resources and teaching best practices.

“The impacts of social media start affecting our youth at a very young age,” said Nadine Sigle, extension community vitality specialist for northwest Kansas. “Even before entering school, youth are playing video games or watching YouTube videos on electronic devices. Social media has become the go-to method for communication and it’s important for youth to be able to recognize both the positive and negative behaviors they are being exposed to. Exhibiting good social media habits is now one of the components considered desirable in a responsible citizen.”

The social media citizenship measurement survey was created by Jana Thomas, a faculty member in Kansas State University’s A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Thomas’ research focuses on media use among young people ages 10-19.

The survey scores student groups collectively in eight areas of social media citizenship behavior: digital harassment, psychological health and well-being, security and safety, misuse of technology, communication and conflict management, problem-solving and collaboration, media literacy, and digital identity management.

Thomas’ research in youth social media behavior has found that such youth factors as age, favorite social media platform, reason for using social media, connection with parents on social media, and time spent on social media, can predict positive and negative social media behaviors.

Having tangible and meaningful information about student social media use will assist educators in prioritizing citizenship instruction that leads to positive social media behaviors and prepares students to be successful in a 21st century digital environment, she said.

“The popularity of social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Tik Tok among today’s youth has fueled the need for technology and citizenship education that helps students navigate and reduce potential risks, as well as take advantage of the benefits of having these social tools at their fingertips,” Thomas said. “Understanding the specific social media behaviors of their students will equip educators with the information they need to meet students where they are and create timely and relevant social media discussions and learning materials in the classroom.”

K State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Story by:
Mary Lou Peter
[email protected]

For more information:
Jana Thomas
[email protected]



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