Stimulating Small-Group Discussion Activity 3: “Does Social Media Make People Sadder?”

Discussion triads

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

Some reasons why students seemed stimulated by this discussion:

  1. They were interested to hear how their classmates used social media.
  2. They thought it was funny how they tended to post positive events in their lives rather than negative.
  3.  The article stimulated them to be “honest” about their reactions to the effects of social media.
  4. They discovered that some of their classmates have stopped using social media.

Here is the basis for this discussion: In an episode of NPR’s “Hidden Brain,” Shanker Vedantam explores the effects that social media can have on people. He shares examples of people who found themselves feeling dissatisfied with their lives after comparing themselves with others.  After reading the one-page article that I drew from that episode, my students were eager to share their experiences with their classmates.  The ideas in the article seemed to resonate with them.

This and future discussion activities include four parts:

1) A one-page article usually including a brief summary of a high-interest research study.
2) Ten true-false comprehension questions.
3) Pre-Discussion Exercise in which students read and think about several questions about their experience and opinions about the topic before discussing them in groups.
4) Small-group discussions of the article in which each student is given a paper with different content/personal experience questions in the form of Student A, B or C.

About Discussion Activity 3: Does Social Media Make People Sadder? and the handout.

Here is an excerpt from the article

4 Unfortunately, in real life, her marriage was not a happy one.  Not surprisingly, she never told about this on Facebook.  As Rachel said, “No one ever puts negative stuff on there.  If they did, other people might wonder if the person is having some kind of trouble in their life.”  Rachel was making up a pretend life on Facebook to keep up with the wonderful lives her friends seemed to have, and she later discovered that many of her friends were doing the same thing; they were trying to keep up with her. 

Here are some of the personal experience discussion questions that students will discuss.

Pre-discussion Exercise 2

Think about these discussion questions.  You don’t have to write anything.

  • What types of things do you post on social media?
  • Recently, what type of things do your friends or family members post on social media?
  • Do you sometimes post sad things that have happened to you, for example, getting a bad grade, losing a boyfriend or girlfriend, a fight you had with a roommate, etc.?
  • Does social media sometimes cause you to feel unhappy?
  • Do you think the world would be better or worse without social media?
  • If you couldn’t use social media for a week, how would you feel?

Here is the link to the complete activity: Does Social Media Discussion article and discussion questions

To make group discussion most successful, see these postings for activities

Conversation magic: Two most important conversation techniques (Part 1)
Conversation magic: Two most important techniques. (Part 2)
Discussion Technique to Get Quiet Students Involved (Part 1)
Discussion Technique to Get Quiet Students Involved (Part 2)

David Kehe

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