YOUNG people at a Derbyshire secondary school have been learning how to manage their social media and mental health, and how they can play a part in societal change towards attitudes around platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.
Anna Hutton, marketing director and co-founder of award-winning agency Macmartin, delivered a workshop to Year 11 pupils at John Flamsteed Community School, in Denby.
A qualified occupational therapist, Anna spoke to pupils about how they can take back control of what they see on their social media feeds and how social media companies keep people engaged for as long as possible in order to collect data from their users.
She said: “I love social media. But my aim is to live in a world where young people have individual control over how social media affects their mental health.
“Digital technologies are here to stay and so we need to arm people with the tools needed to ensure that they have a healthy relationship with social media.”
Anna spoke of how 80% of what you see on social media is fake, bias, misleading or dramatized – according to market research company Statista.
She also spoke of the manipulation, pressure and disruption that social media can cause, and how to make it work for each individual.
“Users need to understand why they use social media and what they want to get out of it,” said Anna.
“If you like a piece of content, actively engage with it; like it, share it, save it and comment on it.
“We all need to get into the habit of regularly curating our feed. Follow positive role models and unfollow or mute those who provide you with content that you don’t want to see.”
MacMartin, a full-service marketing agency, are keen to deliver more workshops, with plans to work with businesses showing them how their employees can manage their social media and mental health.
John Flamsteed pupils Amie and Lauren felt that the session was hugely beneficial.
Sixteen-year-old Amie said: “I use Instagram regularly and now I know how to use it more responsibly,” while Lauren (15) added: “I found the session really useful, especially how to control my social media feeds.”
Holly Sherriff is the Personal Development lead at John Flamsteed; a new role for the school as it looks to grow its network with local businesses.
She said: “It is an important time for our Year 11 pupils as they prepare for their GCSE examinations.
“Social media is here to stay and it’s important that our young people know how to use it responsibly, and to their own benefit.”
Jo Barlow is the school’s assistant headteacher, mental health and DSL lead. She added: “I’d like to thank Anna for her insightful workshop with our Year 11 pupils.
“There was so much food for thought. Social media is a powerful tool for young people and provides a platform for their voices to be heard.
“It’s important, though, that they are armed with the resources and information on how to make it work for them as they prepare to leave secondary school and embark on adulthood.”