Essential Solutions 2-MIN. READ

Transition Skills for Students with IEPs: Social Media Safety

By: Cathy Keeter 02/14/2023
Educators and paraprofessionals can use these three activities to help develop social skills IEP students need to thrive as adults after leaving school.
Older student on cell phone with teacher.

While social media safety has become a critical skill set for all students, it’s especially important for older learners who are transitioning out of special education programs and into life after high school. 

Here are a few ideas educators and paraprofessionals can use to help develop IEP goals for social media skills. 

Sharing Content Online

Do your learners know how to take and appropriately share digital photos? Can they attach a photo to an email, download them from a smartphone to a computer, or upload them to a social media site?

ACTIVITY: Take a few photos of your students and some things in the classroom or around the school grounds. Have those students unfamiliar with a camera app take some of the photos as well.

Then use those photos to spark a discussion about the pros and cons of sharing pictures online. Talk about the process of “tagging” photos with names on a social media site. Make sure they understand that tagging a friend in a photo means that the person’s name and face are made visible to their audience, and ask what they can do to make sure the friend doesn’t mind.

Privacy, Safety, and Responsible Use

Demonstrate how to set up a social media account, and show your learners how to use privacy settings to protect the personal information they share online. Review each setting and how it limits who can view information and what can be seen.

ACTIVITY: Facilitate a discussion about the downsides of social media use, asking questions like:

  • Do you think social media shows what people’s lives are really like?
  • Is information posted on social media always true?
  • Do you think people sometimes spend too much time on social media?
  • Do you think companies use social media to sell products to people?
  • What should you do if someone makes you uncomfortable online? For example: stopping communication with the offender, telling a trusted adult, or reporting the person to the social media platform for violating terms of service.

The Internet Is Forever

When discussing social media, emphasize that many people will see and read the things that are posted, and once posted, that content is online forever—even if deleted. Using good judgment when posting information is key, and your learners should understand what kinds of personal information they should keep private, like their health, travel, and financial information.

ACTIVITY: When reviewing what should not be shared on social media for safety reasons, be sure to spend time on what other sorts of content can lead to inappropriate posts. Discuss examples of:

  • Gossip
  • Rumors
  • Complaints about people in the student's personal life or workplace
  • Anything meant to bully someone or damage their reputation

As you help set up your learners for social media success, remember to follow your school’s phone and social media use policies. Consider sharing a written copy of your school’s rules with your students, and discuss the reasons behind these policies.

Looking for more activities to support high school students with IEPs to build a pathway to adulthood? Check out this video.