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Indianapolis elementary school holds social media conversations with students

"We have 9 weeks of school left and we want to work with our kids to teach them how to advocate for themselves."
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Posted at 9:04 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 21:04:14-04

INDIANAPOLIS — McClelland Elementary School teachers and administrators are continuing the conversation with their students when it comes to social media and its impact.

Rachel Heinbaugh joined the school as a fourth grade substitute teacher in January.

“I felt like it was a way to give back to the community and to help support the teachers who might be exhausted but also be an extra pair of hands for the kids as well,” Heinbaugh said.

Heinbaugh and her children are in constant communication regarding what is posted on social media and now the School wants to make sure students feel safe.

“Our kids have access to Instagram, but we have access to their passwords. They know what they can see what they see,” Heinbaugh said.

Principal Jennifer Nichols noticed students were being impacted in negative ways by social media.

“We surveyed approximately 125 sixth graders and of that 125, a significant amount shared with us their sleep is impacted by social media ... and that they are seeing something between their peers that's concerning them,” Nichols said.

The survey was anonymous.

“We’ve had a significant number of students report to us that they have friendships online with what they think are kids but are strangers. They can't tell me for sure that that those are kids they are speaking to,” Nichols said.

The school's next step is to provide a forum for students, even if it's anonymous, so the students can feel comfortable reporting a problem.

“We have nine weeks of school left and we want to work with our kids to teach them how to advocate for themselves, for their peers, how to recognize when something is wrong and to able to operate in a responsible way that makes them feel safe,” Nichols said.