Is social media ruining childhood? This is probably one of the most debatable topics out there and not just among educators and parents. There are a lot of opinions on this and at this point it is really hard to say if it is or if it is not. I felt last night our class had a great discussion trying to find the answer. Some people were very passionate about how they feel and brought up some points that really resonated with me. I think my views shifted a bit because of this debate but like it was mentioned last night, we haven’t seen the true effects of social media just yet because it is still in its early stages. We see some results but what will the results be ten or twenty years from now? Just like smoking, it was promoted until we learned that it was actually bad for you. Maybe we will see the more of the good in social media as time rolls on, but then again maybe not.
Laurie and Christina created a wonderful video that was based off a fairytale story line. They added a personal connection by using their own childhood photos to emphasize that children growing up used to be free and could explore the world with their own creativity as their guide. I thought this was a great touch as it brought back memories of myself growing up and exploring out at the lake. We didn’t have tv or anything out there. Just the great outdoors and our imagination. My parents now live out there full time and I can only hope I can allow my daughter to create those same great memories by finding that balance between social media/technology and living in the moment and exploring outdoors.
Laurie and Christine brought up some great points that seem to be the common topic when it comes to the negative side of social media. These included the increase in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicide, the fact that kids are seeking attention and validation from their peers by analyzing every like and comment they get, how distracted we have become by the social media platforms and also the dangers that are found on social media. I think these are all valid points and concerns that can be argued. Not every child will suffer the same consequences of using social media and I believe as educators and parents we need to teach our children moderation and smart use of instagram, snapchat, tiktok and facebook. We need to make sure we are present in our kids lives to know what is going on with social media. This is a fine line between being aware and maybe infringing on their privacy but hopefully there is a way to find balance there. One comment that was made was that parents are also distracted due to social media. This point really hit home with me. I find so often I am just aimlessly cruising through facebook, instagram and snapchat looking for nothing in particular. I hate to admit it but I spend way too much time on these apps especially when I could be spending time with my daughter. It isn’t just kids that social media is affecting. I find I am addicted to checking it and almost just check it out of habit.
I think the mental health piece is an important one. The constant checking of likes and comments, the posting of pictures that have gone through a million filters and then the negative comments that come with them are what really worry me. Yes we have always wanted to fit in with our peers. Yes we have always compared ourselves to magazine images and so on. However, the volume of photos we can compare to and the frequency of it is much higher. It is also more personal. We are comparing to our friends on another level. Cyberbullying is now part of the equation. People have the courage to voice their opinions behind the screen. Bullies are bullies and they would do it no matter what. Sure. But there are a lot more people that will voice their opinion on social media that wouldn’t dare speak up to people in person. We say we need to educate our kids about the proper use of social media but yet tonnes of adults are keyboard warriors ready to attack others for any comment they make on a public post.
It was very clear to me that some people are pretty passionate about what side of the fence they are on in this debate. I love seeing that kind of passion! It also helped me see some more of the positives in the use of social media. Don’t get me wrong I am not totally against it. I just am not all in at this point. Like I said I waste my fair share of time on it. I appreciated some of the points Dean and Amy made. It made me realize the positives in social media that I always knew were there just never gave them credit for. The ability to connect with family around the world through facebook posts or a quick snapchat video and my favourite the ability to reach out to others to help them deal with something they are working through. The fact that young kids that could be struggling for various reasons (LGBQT, mental health, disability, loneliness, etc…) they have a tool they can use to reach out to others experiencing the same thing. Unfortunately, I have friends that have terminally ill children. They have found comfort in social media groups by finding other families experiencing the same situations. Sometimes we just can’t relate to what others are going through unless we have gone through it ourselves. That is where social media has filled that gap. That to me is amazing. A huge positive! Honestly, this point is what stuck with me the most out of this whole debate! Without social media these connections wouldn’t be as easily accessible. The response wouldn’t be immediate and the support just wouldn’t be as strong.
Like Nataly said, ” Moderation is key here. In the time of magazines, TV and Radio, we didn’t read, watch and listen to them 24/7. They were part of our lives but not all of it!” Social media is great. It has allowed immediate connection to those from afar. It can educate us on matters of the world (if they are legit sources being shared) and let’s be honest they can be fun. Social media is changing childhood and not necessarily ruining it. We just need to make sure we adapt to the changes in a positive way. Get sucked into the positives of social media rather than the negative side. In life, in general, we will run into negative people and we need to learn how to deal with that. As teachers and parents we need to provide our children with these skills. We also need to educate them about the proper use of social media, the dangers and the positives we can use it for. And of course we need to teach our kids to BE KIND!!!!
At the end of the day we all know connection is what we really want. Some seek it on social media because they are lacking it in their real life. However, that is false connection in a lot of cases. I get that social media has helped during this pandemic because kids have been able to stay connected to their peers. You know what I have noticed… families posting pictures of game nights they are finally having… movie nights… nights by the fire and many other family activities that they have finally made time for because they have slowed down, lived in the moment, and seeked connection with those present with them. If we are present with those that mean the most to us and building connections with them offline… maybe the consequences of online connection won’t be negative ones!?