Kids, control your app-etite and thrive

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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.

agree

By Melinda, Alyssa, and Lori

disagree

By Erin, Brooke, and Daniel

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.

Thanks, Giphy

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, I feel sad.

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!

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3 thoughts on “Kids, control your app-etite and thrive

  1. I agree it’s all about how the tool of social media is used. Although social media used irresponsibly can have terrible consequences most kids are doing the right things online. It’s important that as educators that we guide students with how to use this tool in a positive way and promote the ways that social media can help.

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  2. I really enjoyed your blog post this week, Amy! I like how you acknowledge both sides of this argument, because there really are so many important points to consider on both sides. This topic isn’t clear cut and to not acknowledge both the pros and cons would be foolish and unrealistic (I think…) I also agree with Daniel’s quote and think that as a society, we tend to jump on bandwagons, especially when they perpetuate negativity, when in reality, social media hasn’t really been around long enough for research to identify consistent trends over time. On the other hand, I appreciate when you say “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.” I think we as adults have to acknowledge that if we take advantage of our tech tools and value the ways in which they enhance our daily lives, then we can’t expect kids to do away with their tech/social media either. It really does come down to education and practice with the support of good role models. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I also agree with the pessimistic side of things…. I see such great things on social media, but then every month I am reminded that students need more tools and a better understanding of the damage social media can cause. For example, students messaging each other outside of school hours on social media in a negative way. I witnessed this a few times this school year and it created anxious students who did not want to come to school because of a negative interaction on social media the night before. I think as a society, we have a long way to go with training and informing students on how to use social media properly.

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