Supporting the Social and Emotional Needs of our Students in the Digital Era

By Amanda Bertschinger,

  Filed under: ELC, Junior School, Middle School, Senior School, Wellbeing

One of the biggest challenges to young people’s healthy wellbeing in today’s world is certainly the technological environment that they experience daily life in and navigating how to manage themselves and their interactions with others, online, in a safe and healthy manner.

Technology isn’t going anywhere, nor should it. There are so many wonderful benefits from accessing technology for learning, entertainment and also our wellbeing. We are able to connect with people in ways that would not ordinarily be possible without these advances, we can source information with ease and it has provided a terrific platform for a huge range of apps that can promote awareness for and management of our health and wellbeing.

However, technology and in particular social media, also has the ability to negatively impact our relationships, our self-concept, our quality of sleep and our overall wellbeing. Therefore at St John’s, we ensure learning about online safety and responsible decision making in regards to technology, are essential parts of our curriculum. These learning experiences are provided through our Health, Wellbeing and Digital Technology curriculums across our whole school, are embedded into our Wings Pastoral program (7 – 12) and also through our Wednesday Wellbeing Series (7-12).

This term alone, our Year 7 students had an online safety presentation from the Carly Ryan Foundation, our Year 8 and 9 students have had an incursion with Brainstorm Productions, “The Flip Side”; a live theatre experience that addresses cyber safety and cyber bullying in schools and helps improve student wellbeing and mental health. Our Year 12 students will also have a Wings session this week, on privacy online and digital relationships. On the Secondary Campus this term, we have also encouraged students to do “Away For The Day”, which encourages them to be mindful of their mobile phone use, regularly.

This is a topic of ongoing discussion and research, with many studies being released regularly on kids, teens and screens. The World Health Organization have recently released updated guidelines; there have been studies exploring pre-schoolers, screens and attention spans. Likewise, there have been several studies examining the impact of social media on teen’s mental wellbeing. It is something that we (as teachers and/or parents) need to be continually providing boundaries for and having age-appropriate conversations to ensure we are encouraging safe digital use.

As a parent, if you are seeking some strategies to help you manage technology use in your own homes, I recommend registering for our ParentTV resource; a digital platform that our school has subscribed to this year, to support our families.

To register, please click here:

Likewise, a number of articles, blogs or websites that are useful resources for parents include:

Carlee Mitchell

Leader of Student Wellbeing