Ryan Williams, co-founder and former co-owner of KOMI Group, a multi-million dollar social media and marketing agency based in Manchester, today called for social media to be included in the national curriculum to educate children about the broad career opportunities it can offer as well as dangers.
The news follows the introduction of new American Psychological Association (APA) recommendations for training teens to use social media safely. This is the first time the APA has published this guide, highlighting the risks to young people and emphasizing the responsibility of parents to monitor its use. But the responsibility of educating children must also rest with schools.
Ryan Williams is one of the UK’s leading social media pioneers. Together with two business partners, he founded the KOMI Group and built the agency to take advantage of a gap in the market – lack of knowledge and experience in the field of social media in many businesses. He strives to break down the barriers that hold back aspiring entrepreneurs and believes that social media is a valuable tool to this end.
Williams wants social media to be added to the UK’s national curriculum to break away from what he calls the “sticking a band-aid” approach currently being used by schools and teachers.
He argues that social media is a great career tool for young people and that it is our responsibility to help children make the most of these opportunities through curriculum reform. She adds that it’s also important that children are properly educated about the dangers of social media, from bullying to misinformation, which she says is done in a “sticky” way.
Having built a social media-based business, Williams understands the huge potential of platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Snapchat for people’s career advancement and life chances, and believes that the curriculum is failing young people today by not teaching it.
He is also aware, through his young children, of the dangers of social media platforms and wants to see a formulated and comprehensive approach to educating children about these dangers.
Ryan Williams said: “Social media is playing an increasingly important role in people’s lives – especially young people. What most people don’t realize is that it’s a fantastic career opening tool.
“I first encountered the world of social media in the early years when Twitter was really taking off, and I started creating comedic parody football accounts. It quickly became profitable and eventually developed into the KOMI Group when I joined two business partners. Within six years, together with KOMI, we have built a multi-million-dollar agency employing over 80 people.
“The breadth of opportunities that social media offers young people is endless. There are many great career paths in social media, such as in the marketing space, and most large companies now have a social media manager. But people can now also monetize their hobbies on social media, and many companies are building businesses that are entirely based on social media, such as KOMI Group.
“Given the tremendous opportunities these platforms can create for young people, it seems crazy that there is no strategy to educate children about the wide benefits and uses of social media.
“It is also important that children are educated about the dangers of social media. It can be a huge source of anxiety and intimidation. It can also be highly addictive and damage young people’s ability to concentrate properly on other things, such as education and employment.
“I would ideally like elementary school children to be taught social media safety as we see children starting to use these platforms at an increasingly younger age. This can be extended to include career and business opportunities as they transition into high school.
“Currently, education about the dangers of social media is a complete patchwork. And there has been no concerted effort to teach children about the enormous potential of social media for their career advancement. This seems to me to be a neglect of duty on the part of the education system, which is struggling to keep up with the times. We need a comprehensive strategy for integrating social media into the curriculum, taking into account both opportunities and threats.”
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