What do you think, is social media ruining childhood?
Last week’s debate was a fierce one, with such great points made by each of the two teams that I wanted to take the time to recap them here. Below, I quote and paraphrase to summarize the points from their excellent videos, which I strongly recommend people view.
|social media can cause mental health issues, such as Facebook depression
the intensity of the online world is what can trigger depression
kids who rely on social media are at risk of social isolation
kids may turn to risky sites and blogs for help
sites may promote unsafe and self destructive behaviours
kids worry about being judged by peers online
kids have anxiety about not getting enough likes
on these sites, girls worry a lot about appearance; boys are pushed to be macho
impulsive behaviour is normal in kids, but attention-seeking posts with inappropriate behaviour online can lead to serious consequences
an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex mixed with instant gratification = perfect storm for risky online behaviours (like the Tide Pod challenge).
there can be a serous lack of privacy on these sites
kids may post too much or post false info
their digital footprint stays for life – even from apps that claim that images stay online for only seconds
future jobs can be jeopardized
kids using social media can be targets for fraudsters, marketers, or pedophiles
cyber-bullying, including exclusion, stalking, outing, harassment, impersonating and threats, is a serious problem
there is a link between cyber-bullying and many negative behaviours and thoughts, as well as school and family problems.
the minimum age rule for social media use is not well known or followed
social media can cause sleep issues
|the benefits of social media outweigh risks when students understand responsible use
social media use strengthens relationships and offers sense of belonging
kids can interact online in ways we couldn’t do before
kids can connect with others around the world to get inspired and not feel alone
kids can stay in touch with friends, get to know people, and connect with others with common interests
kids can show sympathy towards each other via social media sites
social media allows kids to provide genuine support to one another
social media is a safe space for kids to express insecurities
kids can use social media to develop their online/offline identities
kids learn how to be autonomous adults via using social media
kids can explore interests and establish a digital identity without the pressures of social conformity
sites offer a platform for sharing ideas, info, and points of view
the digital world extends the info kids can access and deepens their understandings of subjects
social media allows kids to make their world a better place
social media gives kids an awareness of trending issues
social media can be a “weapon for good”
social media is a tool, and with boundaries and guidance, kids can learn to be responsible digital citizens
As you can see, each team made strong points to support their side of this debate.
Where I do stand? Well, I agree most with Daniel, who wrote in this week’s blog that
“social media is not ruining childhood, but rather, social media is changing society at such a furious pace that our ability to form new social conventions and social contracts to attend to these changes is proving to be too slow.”
I think that the question of whether social media is ruining childhood is a bit hyperbolic. It’s clear that there are benefits and drawbacks to this technology, just as there are to most of the tools we’ve designed. As my prof and classmates have pointed out, people have often thought that some new tech was going to “ruin” us – whether it was the radio, the television, the walkman, or the telephone (just to name a few). What does being “ruined” really mean, anyways? Apart from a small number of tragic cases where social media use has led to suicide, social media is not destroying our species… not yet at least.
But we are changing, and while I wouldn’t say things are dire, I also don’t agree with the sentiment that we’re impervious to the unforeseen, and even still unknown consequences of our actions. Just because other new inventions haven’t “ruined us” as predicted by naysayers, this doesn’t mean that our slow (sometimes fast) social shifts aren’t in a direction that is more negative than positive.
When I read articles such as B.C. expert weighs in on why kids are eating Tide pods for fun, I just sadly shake my head and have to agree with the idea that social media “amplifies some of the effects of young people’s natural tendency towards risk.”
Likewise, when I I see the issues surrounding kids and “cyberbulling and harassment, sexting, Facebook depression, privacy concerns, and the influence of advertisements on buying” as listed in The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families
Thanks again, Giphy!
But then, thanks to the readings I’ve done for this class, I get to see things like the 9 ways real students use social media for good and How Social Media Helps Teens Cope With Anxiety, Depression, and Self-Harm and I feel much calmer about the situation. 🙂
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I take advantage of the tools of my time on a daily basis, and so I’m not going to rag them out for destroying our civilization. That said, I do see many problems with our world today, and I have to admit to being more on the pessimistic side of the fence. At the same time, I know that we will adapt, somehow, and with the help of the awesome ed-tech-conscious teachers who are my classmates, I have some hope for our future.
Thanks to the two debate teams for this interesting discussion!