Social Networking and Gaming in K-12 Schools

Social networking and gaming are a big part of the lives of K-12 children outside of school. Social media is becoming an essential tool for professional growth, curriculum planning, and student engagement. Bridging the digital divide between home and school literacies is critical for our students to be prepared for our global changing world. 

What are the academic benefits of gaming?

-Gaming increases student's memory capacity: Students have to remember aspects in order to solve the game, memorize critical sequences, and track narrative elements.

-Promtoes Leadership Skills- video games offer players the chance to take turns leading and following, something that can benefit students with their extra-curricular activities. These multi-player approaches allow students to participate in leading a team - a valuable skill to learn for the future - and negotiating rules (Hobbs, 2015) .

-Computer and Simulation Fluency: Playing online games allow students to become familiar with a computer and how it works. There are many websites, such as ABC Mouse or Cartoon Network, which provide young children with fun and educational games that teach children how to use a mouse, keyboard, browse, enter in passwords and usernames, as well as, navigating the internet.

-Helps with Strategic Thinking and Problem Solving: Students have to think fast when they are playing an online game. They have to use logic in order to think ahead in order to solve a problem or move up a level. This will help our students think on their feet and think outside of the box. There is evidence that social skills players learn within social online video game environments translate to their real-world interactions (Granic et al. 73).

-Develops Hand-Eye Coordination- When a student uses an iPad, keyboard, and mouse to play a game, they develop hand-eye coordination. Students have to look at what is taking place on the screen while using their hands to control what is happening at the same time.

-Beneficial for students with attention disorders: Research has proven that online games can actually help children who have attention disorders.

-Skill- Building and Map Reading: When a student is playing a mystery or adventure game they are most likely reading and following a map. This helps develop map skills and practical thinking. There are also games for older students that introduce managing finances and general project management. 

-Teachers can differentiate instruction: Students come into the classroom at many different levels and with different styles of learning. Online games make it easier for teachers to differentiate their instruction to assist students’ needs. Some online games will appeal more to visual and kinesthetic learners who need to see and touch or move objects to embrace a concept.

-Students are exposed to problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, negotiation, delegation and even empathy.

-Playing cooperative games can help teach autistic children how to interact with other children as part of a group, as autistic children tend to have difficulty communicating and interacting as part of a group. Autistic individuals tend to have well-developed visual perceptual skills and generally respond very well to visual stimuli. Certain types of video games that encourage social behaviors may help autistic players to learn how to interact with others one-on-one or as a group and how to pick up on social cues during social interactions (Zimmerman, 2012).

-Increases Student Motivation-  Researchers observed 1,274 first and second graders in Chile over three months, during which the students played various educational games. By the end of the study, teachers reported increased student motivation and improved technology skills (Clark, 2018).

What are the academic benefits of social networking?

 -Students Improve in knowledge retention and understanding.

-Find concrete information online: The Internet is a great place to find views, opinions, tips, study materials, and facts. Depending on their interests, students can find answers to their questions. Sites, such as Tumblr and Pinterest, can offer children inspirations for school projects or practical problem-solving (Willbold, 2019).

-Social networking increases class participation and motivates students: Students feel more comfortable engaging with others on social media platforms.

-Builds community among learners- Students become friends with their classmates on social media and are more likely to collaborate on projects.

-Students become effective members in online communities: Using social networking sites such as Google Hangouts can be used to setup class sessions where everyone can collaborate through video in real time. Google Hangouts can also be saved for future reference, in case one of the students has a conflict and cannot make the class.

-Communicate and collaborate with others worldwide- Students can ask questions, receive feedback, and share what they know using social networking. The biggest advantage of social media is better communication. A student can connect with anyone at any point in time via Kids Messenger or WhatsApp (Willbold, 2019).

-Improve student writing: Peers and online communities can offer feedback and assistance.

-Improve literacy and reading skills: Students have to read the information they access, evaluate, maintain and share (Quartz, 2019).

-Parent Involvement-  Social media help the parents stay involved in the child’s learning. Via the school’s Twitter or Facebook feed parents can be updated on school-related activities, projects, and events that are happening (Willbold, 2019).

-Learners go beyond text: Social media can provide a richer experience for resources. Videos, resource websites, and tutorials can be shared very easily with the entire classroom at the click of the button.

-Students can take classroom knowledge public: Teachers can ask questions on social media such as Twitter and students can answer those questions, by including a specific hashtag. This not only allows the teacher to find the student answers, but also allows other students to see what others are answering and create a dialog.

-Student attitudes improve towards the course content- Utilizing social networking in assignments makes work more enjoyable. 

-Digital citizenship grows: Students learn new digital literacy skills to complete assignments.

-Global competency: Students grow in the skills they will need to be out in the global workforce.


Reading Comprehension
Ages 2-11

ABC Mouse PBS Kids Adventure Academy
Ages 8-13

Pre K- Grade 12

Stem Literacy Activities
K-Grade 12
Education World


Grades 1-8
Guided Reading K-6
My Storybook


Primary Games
Game On
High School



Social Networking and Gaming Ideas

Scavenger Hunt Shenanigans
Encourage students to find visual representations that fulfill clues. For example, use Instagram to challenge children to snap images of geometric shapes, angles, or combinations while using hashtags to make it easier to share photos. A scavenger hunt is a fun and rewarding way to extend lessons into the real world.


Field Trip Fun
Take a field trip or connect with another classroom across the world. We are no longer limited to just lessons from textbooks because social media allows us to visit and interact with people from around the world. Classrooms can virtually visit anyplace. The Internet and Skype are great resources for connecting with others and other places.  


Role Playing History
Create social media profiles and posts representing or role playing as people from history.This is a great way to make history come alive for students! Give your students the opportunity to connect personally with historical people, historical periods, and important events. Have your students think about what George Washington or Albert Einstein might have shared on Twitter or Facebook. What would soldiers be tweeting about or sharing on Facebook during the Vietnam War?

Many students enjoy using Dubsmash to help students develop meaningful content that allows them to process knowledge through a visual medium they enjoy. Have students film or direct short videos using social media apps to address new concepts or historical events.

Create and Pin
Pinterest allows students to organize data, resources, and facts all on one “board”. This can be a valuable tool and resource for research, writing, science concepts, and more!

Kahoot! is a fun game based platform isn’t necessarily a traditional social media app, but it does allow students and educators the opportunity to engage, interact, and receive feedback similarly to social media. Students use laptops, tablets, or even cell phones to create user id’s, log onto tests, and compete with others in the classroom. Teachers can use tests already created or develop their own, which allows for an entertaining way to review and check for understanding.


Connect with Cyber Pen Pals.
Connect with another teacher within the district or a teacher you know out of the district and have your classes connect with each other via live Skype sessions, pre-recorded videos, FaceTime.


Lights, Camera, Action
Students can create their own tutorials or creative skits on a certain topic or problem on YouTube. You can keep the video private and only show it via a URL link, but this is great to send to parents to show them what their kids are up to during school hours.

Create a Collaborative Blog
Each week have a different child write a blog post. Students can choose one topic they would like to blog about or respond to a prompt. Students can create a chain blog, having each post responding to the previous submission. These could be serious or silly – the possibilities are endless. Wordpress is a great program that allows you to blog.

Tweet, Tweet
Have your students follow your classroom on Twitter. Students can complete a secret assignment you have tweeted about for extra credit. This is more appropriate with  high school students who may already have an account and suitable with various social platforms. Stay away from using your own personal account for these assignments.

Create and Share
There are many great apps that you can utilize to help your students create online digital portfolios. Seesaw is a favorite of mine. Seesaw is a wonderful platform to meaningfully engage students in their learning and unlock creative thinking for all students in any subject. Students explore a variety of powerful tools (like drawing, voice recording, taking videos, and more!) to show what they know in the way that works best for them. Teachers gain insights to meet their students where they are.

Digital Media Ethics

It is CRUTIAL for educators to teach and train today’s generation to be responsible and ethical life-long learners of the digital age. Teachers must demonstrate, guide, and help students practice appropriate and professional behavior while using blogs, wiki spaces, learning management systems, online research, and much more. Here are some tips that can prepare students to be TECH SMART when using technology.

Take Care of Technology Equipment: Students must learn how to take care of technology equipment. Students must learn to protect the technology resources (Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer, 2010). Viruses, worms, and Trojan horses are even more prevalent today because of the increased use of technology. Students should be aware of what to do if they encounter suspicious messages, links, pop-up windows, etc. to prevent computers from being infected. Students need to know to let a teacher know if something is suspicious so the teacher can take care of the matter.

Explore Appropriate and Safe Sites: The Internet should be used appropriately at all times. Students should use known and trusted digital resources (Cennamo et al., 2010). Teachers should be aware of the sites they provide their students to use in class. Students must be mature and responsible to evaluate sites to make ethical decisions while surfing the Net. Students must be able to recognize if information on a site is valid and credible. Teaching students to critically evaluate Web sites will prepare them for their future education and profession (Pinkham, Wintle, and Silvernail, 2008).

Copyright Law, Fair Use Act, and Creative Commons Matter: Technology makes it easier to create, access, duplicate, and share information. It is therefore essential for teachers and students to understand the use of copyrighted material (Cennamo et al., 2010). Copyright laws protect an author’s original work. The Fair Use Act permits the use of copyright material for educational and noncommercial purposes. To stay within safe parameters of the Fair Use Act, practice the “10% rule” when using others' work (as cited in Cennamo et al., 2010).

Help Prevent Cyberbullying: Discuss cyberbullying with your students. Have an open dialogue with your students on the importance of addressing cyberbullying and reporting it. Cyberbullying can be damaging. Learners can experience anxiety, stress, fear, withdrawal from others or even take their own lives from being cyber bullied. Guidelines in preventing and handling cyberbullying include: Discuss how cyberbullying is unacceptable. Discuss scenarios of cyberbullying. Help students understand the importance of handling and addressing this growing problem. Should any inappropriate interactions online take place, students should report these to parents, teachers, or any trusted adult. Students need to be aware of the consequence for bullying others online. Outlining cyberbullying guidelines can help students address and prevent threatening and inappropriate online behavior.

Self-image Is Important: Choose to promote a positive and professional image of self-online. Students must think before they post something online and make it available for the world to see. Employers check for information about prospective candidates online (Oxley, 2010). Students must be aware that once they post an image or comment online, it’s there forever. Teachers can help students promote a positive self-image online by asking them to reflect about these questions:

·         Would you want your parents to see or read what’s online about you?

·         Will this affect your future career?

·         Would this hurt anyone’s feelings?

·         How do you want to be seen by others?

Make Use of Netiquette:
Students should be courteous and respectful when communicating with others online. Teachers should allow learners to practice online etiquette, by providing them opportunities to communicate online via email, blogs, social networks, etc. This will allow for opportunities to model netiquette. Students should be aware of their audience, respect other’s privacy, be kind and respectful, and refrain from using profanity.

Remember to Be Effective, Thoughtful, and Ethical Digital Creators: Educators must teach students to be effective, thoughtful, and ethical digital creators (DeVoss, Eidman-Aadahl, and Hicks, 2010). Students should be given opportunities to use digital tools to gain the necessary skills for the 21st century in order to help them be responsible users of technology. Teachers must set expectations and guidelines to make sure students use technology responsibly. Teachers can have students blog about what they are learning in class or create a video explaining a science experiment or math equation. These opportunities help students become responsible digital creators.

: There is always a purpose for technology. Teachers need to think about how and why they are using or having their students use the technology of choice. Think of ways to be creative and innovative. Students learn so much by utilizing technology platforms. We are preparing today’s learners to be successful citizens of the 21st century.

Parents, teachers, and administrators must work together to teach our students the value of being TECH SMART when using technology in our global changing world.



Cennamo, K.S., Ertmer, P.A., and Ross, J.D. (2010). Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use: A Standards-Based Approach, 1st ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Clark, A. (2018, December 5). The effects of computer games on students academic performance. Classcraft. Retrieved from

DeVoss, D. N., Eidman-Aadahl, E., and Hicks, T. (2010). Because digital writing matters, 1ST ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Granic, Isabela, Adam Lobel, and Rutger C. M. E. Engels. "The Benefits of Playing Video Games." American Psychologist 69.1 (2014): 66-78. Web.

Hobbs, L. (2015, December 29). The benefits of video games for students. The Honor Society Magazine. Retrieved from

Nauert, Rick, PhD. "Video Games May Enhance Social Skills for Autistic Youth." Psych Central, 6 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Oxley, C. (2010). Digital citizenship: Developing an ethical and responsible online culture. ACCESS, 25 (3), 5-9.

Pinkham, C., Wintle, S. E., and Silvernail, D. L. (2008). 21st century teaching and learning: An assessment of student website evaluation skills.

Quartz (2019, January 02). Three major educational benefits of social media. The New Times. Retrieved from

Willbold, M. (2019, April 27). Social media in educatoin:can they improve the learning. eLearning Industry. Retrieved from

Zimmerman, Marc. "3 Ways Group Video Games Help Your Child to Improve Social Skills." The Social Express. Language Express, Inc, 17 Aug. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.