Social Media: Helpful or Harmful?

What do sharpie marker designs on fabric swatches and social media posts have in common?  Can your social media profiles impact your future employment?  This was an object lesson activity and question I posed to my new Careers class talking about employment and interviews.  As with many topics, there are always two sides, positives and negatives, and this topic was no different.  Needless to say it led to some very interesting discussion.  This lesson explores both sides of the topic in more detail, challenging students to explore and evaluate their own social media activity and how it might potentially impact their future opportunities.


  • The day prior to beginning this lesson I gave my student’s a post-it-note size swatch of light colored fabric and asked them to draw a design on it with Sharpie markers.  Since this was near the holidays I had students draw either a decorated tree or gift box.  Their homework assignment was to take it home and use any product they had to try to remove the stains and bring it back the next day with a list of what they used and whether it was successful or not along with changes that occurred with their swatch.  (NOTE:  I do not tell them that we will be talking about social media ahead of time.  It really made their conversation interesting as they were trying to figure out why I was having them do this.)
  • The next day
  • Well, I was amazed at the length my students went to to attempt to remove the stains.  Some used trial and error, some researched it on the internet, and some asked older relatives.  I complimented them on using their problem solving skills!
  • I asked students to share the products they used and the success or failure of them, and also to explain changes, if any, that occurred with their design/fabric.  Most designs just faded or bled, but a few almost totally came out.  I say almost because you could still see faded outlines of designs and/or some of the sharpie colors turned a pale yellow.  See the picture below.  The products that were used to try to remove the stains included:  detergents (both dish/laundry), hand sanitizer, stain removers like Resolve, Oxi-Clean, Stain sticks, bleach pens), bleach (diluted/full strength), rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, vinegar, milk, hairspray, and even lacquer thinner (which worked the best)!
  • I then had them set their swatch aside and told them we would come back to it before the end of the period.

fabric swatch sample


  • Fabric Swatch & Sharpies in a variety of colors
  • Projector & Screen


  • Is social media helpful or harmful?  Have students create a t-chart and brainstorm ideas to share and discuss as a class.
  • To help students understand the permanence of their social media activity, view the TED Talk titled “Digital Tattoos” and have students keep track of the four lessons learned from the Greeks and one lesson learned from the Latins.  Share after viewing.
  • At this point I ask students to write an analogy between the fabric swatch activity and the TED Talk they just viewed on social media and explain the lesson(s) to be learned from them.
  • Ask students if they agree or disagree with the following quote by Chris Betcher:  “In the future your “digital footprint” will carry far more weight than anything you might include in a resume.”  Discuss their opinions.
  • Have students read the article “Guess Who’s Looking at Your Facebook Page?” and have them complete the non-fiction writing activity found within the below PPT. Assign students a tally sheet type evaluation to use with their own social media posts.
  • Using the information found online about the “6 Career Killing Mistakes” have students complete their notes using the  interactive template found below.
  • Discuss why an employer might look at your social media and what they might think about you based on what they might find.  This is a great YouTube clip to use to illustrate what an employer might think about a potential employee.
  • Ask students to evaluate their own social media activity using their tally sheet about their posts for the last year to see if there is anything that might cause someone to reconsider them for an opportunity.  Discuss what can be done if there are harmful things posted on their accounts.
  • Finally, summarize both sides of this topic before completing an opinion writing.





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