A phone screen showing various apps.

Introduction To Social Media Safety

Middle - Grade 8

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Jaime Fortin

Jaime Fortin

About the author

Jaime Fortin is a student at Trent University who is currently in her final year of an undergraduate degree in Indigenous Studies and Gender Studies with an emphasis in Law and Policy. She is from Chapleau Cree First Nation, a small reserve in northern Ontario, and is a te(a)ch facilitator for Pinnguaq.

Computer Fundamentals, Health & Wellness, Online Safety
Lesson Plan


In our society, most people use some form of social media every day. Though it can feel temporary and fleeting, things posted online continue to exist, and can have negative consequences for people later in life. This module gives a basic overview of privacy and security settings for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as tips for navigating social media in a responsible and safe way.

Learning Goals

The goal of this module is for students to acknowledge that while social media is great for connecting with people, it also has its dangers they need to be aware of. In this module students will complete interactive activities to understand why it is crucial to protect themselves and stay safe online.


Any criminal activity that is carried out by means of computers or the internet
The repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone, such as threatening emails or Facebook messages
The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature
Internet Predator
An adult online user who seeks to exploit vulnerable children or adolescents for sexual or other abusive purposes, using the internet to locate, target and victimize minors

Guiding Questions

  1. What social media accounts do you have (for example, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr)?
  2. What are the biggest challenges youth face today with technology in regards to social media?
  3. What are some examples of social media posts that could be seen as harmful, violent or forms of cyberbullying?

Curriculum Links

This module provides an opportunity to address curriculum expectations in Computer Studies, Character Education and Media Studies. Students will be introduced to safety practices when using social media online. This lesson is geared to students in Grades 8 (or older).


Non-Computer Activity

Two Truths and a Lie

  • Have everyone stand in a circle and take turns telling two truths and one lie about themselves, without telling anyone which statements are true, and which are false.
  • The other students discuss the statements and try to guess which one is a lie.
  • Continue until all students have had a turn.
  • Explain that this is similar to what happens online as people do not always post the complete truth about themselves, and you have to figure out what is real and what is a lie.

Computer Activity

Part 1 – General Safety Tips

  1. Choose a password and always keep it to yourself. Your friends and partner do not need to know it. The only people who should possibly have access to your social media accounts are your parents.
  2. Do not assume everyone you meet online is who they say they are. Some are internet predators trying to engage in inappropriate activities with underage people. If you do not know a person do not add them as a contact to any of your social media accounts.
  3. Cyberbullying is a crime that can cause great harm to others. If you or someone you know is being harassed or bullied online, let an adult know.
  4. Regardless what social media app you are using, it is important to be smart about what you are posting. Before you post, ask yourself:
    • Will somebody find this post harmful either to myself or others?
    • Will I be embarrassed of this post/picture/meme later in life?
    • Would I be comfortable with my parents, teachers and future employers seeing this post?
    If the answer to any of these questions is NO then do not post it. Remember that your posts are public, and even if they “disappear” about a certain amount of time, someone could take a screen capture or record it with their phone. You cannot control what other people do with the content you post.
  5. Anything on social media is searchable and able to be downloaded and reshared. To reinforce this idea, do the post and share activity:
    • Choose one student to draw a basic picture and post it on the wall.
    • Have the student leave the room, and pick five different students at random to take a photo of it with their phone.
    • Then have the student who drew the picture come back into the room, tell them that some people in the room have taken a picture of the artwork they posted on the wall, and ask the student to guess how many and which ones took a picture.
    • After the student guesses, explain that in the same way as when you post online, it is impossible to know how many people have seen your photo, and if anyone has copied it or downloaded it.
    What gets posted on social media is searchable; anyone can search your profile, and once you post it any one of your friends can download it. This is why social media posts need to be appropriate and you need to understand the privacy settings of all social media sites that you use.

Part 2 – Facebook

  1. Open Facebook and ask (by a show of hands) who uses it.
  2. Go through the basic privacy settings using the PowerPoint slides for reference.
  3. Reminder: If you do not recognize a person’s name, or know them well enough to talk to them in person, you should not add them to Facebook. Never accept someone simply because their profile picture “looks cute”. They could be an internet predator posing as a child. If you receive a strange message request from someone you do not know, tell an adult you trust.
  4. In the About section on Facebook put in as little information as possible and only share it with your friends. Do not share publicly where you live, what school you go to, or your age.

Part 3 – Instagram

  1. Open Instagram and ask who knows what it is and (by a show of hands) who uses it.
  2. Explain that similar to Facebook, it is important to check your privacy settings, and although it is tempting to make your account publicly available, you should keep it private. Only allow friends and family to view your photos, to avoid people you don’t know from downloading your photos. Though it is fun to get lots of “likes,” you have to be careful and protect yourself.
  3. Use the PowerPoint presentation to go over a visual of Instagram’s privacy settings.
  4. Again, like on any other social media sites it is important to be very mindful of the photos you are choosing to post, and also the caption and any hashtags you use.. As a rule of thumb:
    • Avoid swearing.
    • If you would be uncomfortable with your family members seeing your photo, don’t post it.
    • Do not post a photo of anyone else without getting their permission first.

Part 4 – Twitter

  1. Open Twitter and ask (by a show of hands) who uses it.
  2. Discuss that although celebrities use Twitter without proofreading or verifying their tweets for accuracy or appropriateness, this does not make it right or worth emulating Ask the class if they can think of any celebrities who have posted things inappropriately online.
  3. Unlike Instagram where the main content is photos, Twitter is about commentary or messages called “Tweets”, that are limited to 140 characters or less.
  4. Again, reinforce the idea that you should not share personal information in your biography.
  5. Use the PowerPoint presentation to explain Twitter’s privacy settings.
  6. Ensure any tweets you write are not harmful to other people, even if you only intend to make a joke or be funny. If it could hurt, offend, or insult anyone else, that is cyberbullying.

Part 5 – Snapchat

  1. Open Snapchat and ask who knows what it is and (by a show of hands) who uses it.
  2. Snapchat is a mobile messaging service, where you can send someone a photo or video that appears for up to 10 seconds before it disappears. It may feel like you’re sharing something temporary, but even within this short time frame, a viewer could take a screen capture of it or record it with another phone.
  3. Only add friends, family or someone you would have an in-person conversation with to your Snapchat.
  4. Never feel forced to send inappropriate images or videos to anyone.
  5. Always remember what you send never truly disappears; others can save it and show others.


As a closing exercise, hand each student a blank piece of paper and a pencil. Have them write a word or sentence on the paper and then pass the papers around the circle. When students get their original paper back, have them erase what they wrote. Then ask who remembers what they read on their peer’s papers, and if anyone took a picture of it. Even if you can erase or delete the original, you have no control over what viewers do with the content you post. They can copy, download, and reshare it to their own social networks. And that can keep happening – that is how something goes viral. This exercise will reinforce the idea that once something is posted online it is impossible to erase permanently. Things posted to social media are there forever.


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