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The Role of Social Media in Special Needs Education

Social media can be a great tool for learning, so read on to find out about the benefits of social media for special education needs…

As a parent of a child with special educational needs, it is vital to make sure your loved one has access to the resources and care they need. The law around education and what your child is required to have access to can be highly complicated. Education law services can support you if you are concerned for your child and need to challenge an academic institution.

That said, as technology continues to become an integral part of everyday life, academic institutions are beginning to make use of it in the classroom. This is often a great thing for special needs children, who can become better connected with their peers.

One fantastic use of technology inside and outside the classroom is social media. There are always risks of social media and technology, but what are the benefits of social media for special educational needs? Read on to find out…

Social media networks (a hand holding a smartphone with social media network buttons showing.)

1.   Improving Social Skills

For some children with a special education need, socializing and developing friendships can be difficult. Sites such as Habbo.com and Club Penguin are heavily monitored and have a very filtered social interaction. That said, it starts the communication process for younger autistic children, for example, and this can be used within the classroom.

Edmondo is a great tool for older children with a special educational need. It provides communication, collaboration, and a coaching platform, enabling work to be shared between children, teachers and parents. Communication can be managed over the platform too, which might be easier than talking face-to-face for children who have a special education needs and may find this difficult.

The use of these platforms can also improve a young person’s skills on the computer, which is always beneficial for later life and increasing independence.

2.   Developing Friendships

The use of social media allows children to build and maintain friendships in ways they might not have been able to otherwise. Meeting face-to-face might be difficult for some disabled children. This is especially the case if they’re not in a mainstream school where other children can push for the friendship, so social media allows for this.

3.   Improves Collaboration

Social media fosters the ability to collaborate with other students and teachers. It enables there to be instant feedback on ideas that are posted, and this can help children with a special educational need to develop and build confidence in their ideas.

Two girls leaning over a notebook together, while one writes with a pencil.

4.   Stay in Touch with Parents

Outside of the classroom, social media sites such as Twiducate allows teachers to stay in touch with students and parents. This means that outside of school hours, there are opportunities for special educational needs children to access support and for their parents to track progress.

Children with special educational needs can have diverse abilities, so social media sites can give them that extra support so they can thrive alongside their peers.

5.   Help Children to Fit In

In some cases, it can be easier to fit in via social media than in the classroom. This is because other children and teachers can see the skills they possess, rather than just a person with a special education need.

6.   Increases Independence

Social media can provide children and young people with a special educational need a place where they can be independent. This is so important for their social and educational development. However, it is still important for parents to monitor social media activity because there are many risks associated with it.

7.   Makes it Easier to Join In

Social media accounts in school can be a space where you can contribute equally, which children with special educational needs might not feel confident doing otherwise.

Girl on beach, with hair blowing in the wind.

8.   Manage their Moods

If a child or young person with special educational needs is having a bad day or struggling, they can talk to friends, play games or watch some funny videos to regulate their mood.

9.   Try New Things

Social media allows children with special education needs to learn new skills and try new things that they might not feel comfortable doing in person. It also means they can observe their classmates and learn new skills from them too.

Are There Risks Associated with Social Media in Special Needs Education?

As with any child connecting via the internet, there are risks that parents need to be aware of. Some of the risks that should be monitored, reported, and removed include:

  • Harmful content: there is a risk of being exposed to inappropriate or harmful content. For example, pornography or cyber bullying might be commonplace, and exposure to influencer culture may create body image issues.
  • Unwanted contact: there is a risk of meeting strangers and being involved in high-risk relationships online.
  • Inappropriate conduct: there is a risk of a child behaving in a way that they would not offline, which contributes to risky conduct or contact.

However, there are ways for parents and teachers to minimize this behaviour. As we’ve seen above, social media does have its range of benefits for children with special needs education, so removing it all together may not work entirely.

Think Social Media is a Good Tool for Special Needs Children?

As we’ve seen, despite the risks involved with social media, it does have plenty of benefits for children with special needs.

If you have any tips on allowing your child access to social media, let us know in the comments below. Also, if you have any personal experience with it, again, please leave a comment.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical or educational professional. Be sure to consult a medical or educational professional if you’re seeking advice  regarding your special needs child’s education or health. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

Photos by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels, RODNAE Productions from Pexels, and Pixabay from Pexels.

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