The Social Institute educates students about social media

Olivia Moore
A panel of Prep students were selected to debate social-media issues at the Social Institute forum.

The Social Institute came to Jackson Prep on September the 3rd and 4th, to talk to the students about how to use social media in a positive way. One of their main beliefs is that social media users are a part of the biggest team in the world. Around 3.5 billion people in the world use social media, which is just below half of the global population of 7.53 billion. The Social Institute’s goal is to encourage students to navigate social media in positive, high character ways that benefit everyone.

Throughout the entirety of the forum, student interaction was used to make it more memorable. Ms. Laura Tierney, the founder and CEO of The Social Institute and a social media expert, allowed students in the audience to join an online game with their phones instead of listening passively. The game involved questions about social media, such as whether a like, follow, or share of a post indicates endorsement of what that post is saying. The students voted online, then debated with their classmates seated near them. To finish off each question, a panel of students that were previously chosen shared why or why not they defended their answer for each question. 

Head of School Mr. Lawrence Coco said that “given the prevalence of social media in all of our lives, the Prep administration and the GLI felt it was important to provide tools for our Prep community to use social media in positive ways.”

Prep was able to have many forums, one with the middle school, another with the high school, and a final one for the faculty and parents.  They were forums “in which everyone got to participate in honest discussion about the benefits of social media and how we can use it to positively impact our community. Importantly, we opened the faculty and parent forums to other Jackson Metro schools, so that teachers and parents in our surrounding area could take advantage of this opportunity to learn how social media can better our students and our community.”

Ms. Tierney has a large background in social media, which helped her begin her company that focuses on teaching people how to use social media in a positive and effective way. After playing field hockey for Duke and the US national team, she worked for ESPN, Nike, and Under Armour in the social media department for ten years. Throughout her athletic and professional career, she heard several warnings about the dangers of social media. Instead of focusing on all of the negatives of social media, Ms. Tierney wanted the Social Institute to focus on the positive ways that social media can affect the world. 

staff photo
Director Laura Tierney (left) addresses the senior high student body.

Ms. Tierney urged the students to “play to your values” in the large game of social media, along with several other tips that she gave the students. She warned the students that one in four college admissions officers think that social media is fair game to determine whether one will be accepted into that college. Several employers also look up prospective employees to see whether or not their posts convey the company’s character and values. The students thought the forum was very beneficial and informative about how they can use social media in a careful, thoughtful, and purposeful way to positively impact others.