As campuses nationwide prepare to welcome their students back into classrooms, teachers and students face a new set of challenges amidst uncharted educational waters: re-engaging outside of a computer screen and leaving their burnout at home.
We all became accustomed to the ever-present zoom fatigue as a result of the global pandemic. Popular media outlets have exhausted tips and tricks to combat video-conference restlessness while we connect from home. Students have become accustomed to hours upon hours of online class, suffering from burnout after months of learning remotely. Fast forward to today, they are headed back to their campuses for in-person classes– though not without a hurdle or two.
A surprising solution? TikTok and Instagram.
Despite being yet another digital reality, short-form, engaging social media content is now a familiar forum to help kids stay motivated academically and gives kids an outlet that they’ve become so accustomed to during the pandemic.
TikTok has become an academic hub for students to cope with the exhaustion of remote learning. #StudyWithMe videos on the platform have garnered more than 1.1 billion views. Influencers and content creators from all walks of life have spent the last year and a half documenting their study routines in the hopes of letting students know that it is possible to academically excel despite having to take tests in their childhood bedroom.
Influencer-brand collabs are stirring excitement.
Back to school season is especially unmapped for this year’s incoming college freshmen, who are meeting this chapter with a weave of excitement and apprehension. Brands like Target have been quick to jump on the opportunity to nurture a positive mindset for students as they make their way back to campus. The brand launched a Back to College TikTok campaign with influencers like The College Girlies, to share some affordable shared-space dorm room necessities, among other college-centered tips for incoming students. Beyond this campaign, research shows that 74% of parents have purchased a back-to-school product recommended by a social media influencer through an affiliate link.
Teachers find solace on social media.
Much like their pupils, teachers are also finding innovative ways to keep their students’ learning stamina in good shape following a year of virtual learning. Kids struggle to make it to the end of the day before checking out due to the 8-hour school day overload. The pandemic has seen a rise of “teachergrams”, a format where teachers document their journeys connecting with their students, decorating their classrooms, and sharing activities and lesson plans within their communities.
Samm Franccuci, a second-year fourth-grade teacher in North Carolina, decided to start her teachergram as a way to document her experiences as a novice teacher. When asked about how she used Instagram as a social outlet to keep herself excited during the pandemic, she shared that “it became a great place to build a community and connect with other teachers who were experiencing the same things I was in the profession during the pandemic.”
Samm mentioned that Instagram fosters an inclusive environment for teachers of all backgrounds to get answers from other educators in a casual, non-threatening way — you can simply ask a poll on your story!
“Instagram became a great place to build a community and connect with other teachers who were experiencing the same things I was in the profession during the pandemic.” @fashioninfourth
A delicate balancing act.
Digital social forums continue to shape the way we cope with and interact outside of our digital realities, providing community and connection during a time of continued change and public health concerns. For moms, dads, and teacher's though, these questions remain: "how to keep kids off their phones in real-life academic settings and engaged within the IRL interaction that the pandemic robbed them of?"
Perhaps influencers can help here, too. Many creators are now sharing the importance of balancing one's real life and social media life, touting "social media detoxes" and "unplugging" as vital for mental health. With young student’s minds being influenced by the internet's most popular, it’s encouraging to see that content creators themselves are leading these important conversations.