Monday, 13 June 2016

Social Media - Not All That Bad

Alec asked the question If we had the chance would you go back 10 years to get rid of social media?

I have thought about that question and even posed it to a couple of colleagues today.  Most of their answers began with a resounding no, but then almost all of them quickly paused and pondered and then made some comment around how it would get rid of a lot of "problems" such as behaviour, bullying, and lack of attention of friends, family and children.  Once they came to this realization none of them could give me an answer on either side of the fence.  They all like it for the positives and can't really imagine what the world would be like without social media but they do see a lot of negatives with it as well.

At the end of the debate I voted agree.  Mostly because I was confused and had to make a choice.  Personally I love social media and my wife and I post pictures of our daughter frequently.  We do this both in a closed setting through private photo sharing and more open sites like Facebook and Instagram.  Am I worried about what she may think of in the future of the photos/videos that we have posted?  No, I am comfortable with what my wife, myself, and our close family and friends choose to share online.

The debate brought up some questions for me to think about.  I found myself thinking more as a parent than an educator, but I also feel that to be a good educator you should treat your students as if they were your own children.  Some of my questions were:

How will this affect Lily in the future?

Will it harm her mental health?

How will this world be better for Lily with social media?

As I read the Huffington Post article by George Bowden on how Social Media Affects Child Health posted by Amy, Logan, and Carter, I found the hook grab on to my feels as tightly as I could imagine. What if "Rebecca" in the story turns out to be my daughter? It is going to tear me up inside. I hope as a new parent that I can strive to keep all lines of communication open with my daughter. I want her to learn through as many experiences as possible and in our world that means learn how to live with an online identity along with the "real world". Any form of bullying is going to affect my daughter, but I feel it is the parent's responsibility to talk, teach, and work through these problems ongoing as they develop. Parents and teachers need to have open lines of communication of what is going on and affecting the child. I am hoping that with the guidance of all the adults in Lily's life she will feel protected and secure enough that the bullies, trolls, or whatever other nomenclature comes into jargon will not hurt her.

Jan Rezab has an awesome TEDx Talk about how social media can improve the lives of the users. This is how I view social media. It is an opportunity for people to learn, connect, interact and hold companies, industries, and governments accountable for their actions. We live in the most informed time and it is because of social media. Because of this Jan says it perfectly when he says

``The individuals today have more power than they ever, ever have before. They have power to talk and change companies, to change governments, to change institutions.``

Alec made a comment how Facebook is the worlds leading site for news. For Millennials this is certainly a fact.
Photo Credit :
How can social media be considered a negative when one of the main way the youth of today get their information from are these social media platforms.

Now all these platforms can have a negative affect on our children.  I worry about how will my daughter view herself because of her digital presence that we have helped create? Will she be easily affected by the negatives or will she be surrounded by a plethora of positive experiences that the few negatives that come across will be easy to deal with?

Shannon makes a very valid point in her blog post, Losing the Innocence of Childhood this week,

"More concerning to me, however, is the increased sexuality placed on this age group.  The pressure for girls of this age to look and act like teenagers is overwhelming."  

This scares me to no end.  As a middle years teacher we see all young teens trying to impress and prove they are old enough to do what they want constantly.  I have a hard time having the conversations with my students about what is appropriate or not for certain age groups.  I cannot imagine having the conversations with my own children, whom I will not want to disappoint let alone say no too, all while wanting my child to fit in and become the person they want.

The Forbes article, wrote by Susan Tardanico, Is Social Media Sabotaging Real Communication, that was posted this week brought up the following question for me. Will Lily be a capable communicator or will we need to spend extra time on learning how to communicate similar to how parents have to do extra at home reading practice?  I worry about how Lily will function when she gets older.  All the horror stories out there, similar to Sharon's from the article about her daughter, who was away at college was portraying herself vs what was really going on.  I know I am going to do everything I can to develop a positive, open relationship with my daughter, but I am sure every parent does this, so how can we tell when things are not going as well as they are portraying?  Students in our classes are doing similar things.  They talk about all the positives going on, but then have serious issues they do not want to bring forward, because they are worried it will make them look young, immature, or unable, thus demonstrating that they are not "old enough" or too young for certain activities.

Andreas makes a very good point in his blog, What's the point of comparing childhoods?  Let's get with the times! this week.

"Yes, social media is definitely making our kids grow up quicker, but part of the issue is that we need to start looking at it for what it is, and not comparing it to what we had when we were younger. Times have changed, and with this change, we need to also change with it."

I feel like every generation of teachers and parents are going to battle the new frontier.  This will not change, because our world is every changing.  If we want to be proficient at either we need to be willing to learn and adapt as the new technology comes in.  We need to be confident in our abilities and our ignorance's that we are willing to learn from our students and children when they know more than us.  It is always frightening and usually a little demoralizing when children are more proficient at a task than you, but it happens more than we are willing to admit and if we want to get with the times, maybe we should be more open to learning from our youth.