A Lifelike Social Media Educational Tool to Increase Data and Algorithmic Literacy of Adolescents in Public Discourse

Collaborative project with the Professorship for Research on Learning and Instruction (Prof. Dr. Doris Holzberger) and the Professorship of Computational Social Science and Big Data (Prof. Dr. Jürgen Pfeffer).

Team: Elena Spörer, Tilman Michaeli

Funding: HfP Think Tank, Re-Boot Social Media Lab

Duration: 1.7.2022 - 30.6.2023

About the project

Even though social networks bring some benefits, social media consumption has a worrying impact on the health and (mental) well-being of young people. To counteract the problems, young people must be empowered to be more than just users of social platforms. They must be able to actively shape the future digital world. This includes developing a reflective and responsible approach to data of all kinds, so-called data literacy. These competencies are among the most important ones of the 21st century. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of social networks promote a more conscious approach to the information received, generates a sensitivity that influences the sharing of information and communication, and enables an appropriate assessment of social media consumption. The development of InstaClone - a web environment that mimics the functionalities and the look of Instagram, but is fully controllable - aims to create an educational tool that is freely available and can be used in secondary education without prior knowledge of computer science. Students can use the platform as they would normally use Instagram. Integrated dashboards and analytic features offer a behind-the-scenes look at the algorithm and clarify what data is being collected and used. Furthermore, the thematization of psychological consequences such as emotion regulation is possible. Through InstaClone, the advantages and disadvantages of social media are not only discussed hypothetically in class, but the students experience the possible dynamics themselves, promote their data skills, and can thus better prevent problematic consumption of social media.