I have been looking forward to this week’s debate since we started this class. I remember seeing the video below a while ago and taking a step back to examine my own use of social media. I recently have seen the toll that my phone has caused on my body. I have a cyst on my wrist and my doctor says it is probably from a combination of typing on my laptop since going back to University, and scrolling on my phone. You can imagine my horror! Not only was social media wreaking havoc on my mental health, but it was starting to wear on my body as well. I knew that this would be a topic I would be interested in.
You may not have noticed, but I did not participate in a lot of the chat this week in class during the debate. I found myself sitting back, listening, soaking it all in, and really battling with how I felt about this topic. There was an interesting conversation in the chat during the debate on how we judge others for their overuse of social media, or blaming parents for being on their phones and not paying attention to their children, or letting their children have free reign over what they do online. I felt conflicted during this conversation because I am uneasy about playing the ‘us vs. them’ card when it comes to our students’ parents. I think they are the best asset that we’ve got to help our students achieve success and it is important to see them as part of our team. I love love loved the suggestion of having parent info nights around digital citizenship, and I would even urge teachers to think about using their parents as teachers themselves. Alec has kids, right!? Imagine having his child in your class. I would DEFINITELY take advantage of it, and have him in talking about these things with students. In fact, every year I send out an open invitation to my students’ families inviting them to come and spend time with us throughout the year. This year I had a mom come in and do crafts with my students, another mom came and taught about her home country of Jordan, and I also had a dad join us to tell stories he grew up hearing. These learning opportunities have been tremendously valuable in building my classroom community. Anyways, I know I am off topic. But I needed to speak my mind on this topic. Moving on…
Both teams did an absolutely amazing job this week. Their videos were creative and they presented thought-provoking arguments that really had me pondering where I stand. I am guilty of being too quick to judge social media and how kids interact with it these days. My 14 year old brother would have 17 notifications dinging from his phone every minute if he didn’t keep it on silent 24/7. I’ll suggest things like ‘family day cell-phone free’ and then he’ll catch ME as the one checking notifications. I would even think about reframing the question to ask: Is social media ruining our lives (not just childhood!?) Videos like the following are important reminders to disconnect.
As this video mentions as, social media has an affect on students’ self worth. Bowden (2016) indicates that stressors such as cyberbullying, anxiety, and sleep deprivation are actually linked to social media use. Since they’re finding that children as young as 11 years old regularly use social media outlets like twitter and facebook we need to figure out ways in which to teach positive use. As Jana urges,
“In order for social media to enhance vs. ruin childhood for our youth today, it has to be a collaborative effort on the part of both teachers and parents, and it has to become a priority NOW – something we talk about on a daily basis, something we teach across grades and subject areas, and something we model and monitor as best we can.”
ISTE.org encourages educators to teach mindful advocacy in the classroom by teaching students how to have difficult conversations, translate their feelings into action, and spread the word. They believe that “What educators can do is help students transform their feelings of fear and frustration into action by becoming digital advocates and influencers.” My classmate, Shelly, shares a beautiful example of how social media can be used by our students to create positive social action in this article.
The thing is, I cannot deny that social media can be used for positive use. If I am being honest, I probably disagree that it is ruining childhood. However, I am very VERY concerned (perhaps scared) at how it can negatively affect children, and we need to take action to help them understand long lasting affects. Well done debate this week, #eci830!