The Great EdTech Debate – CHAPTER FOUR – Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

It feels very strange to compose this blog regarding a contemporary issue in the world of EdTech – when the contemporary issues in the world right now are so intense. I wont lie – this was a hard post to write because I am tired. Tired of being plugged in, engaged and connected through Social Media. Therefore, debating it’s merits or challenges in regards to childhood feels as through it is hard not to be biased.

However, considering the set of feelings I am experiencing at the moment, that is probably exactly why this issue is an important one to consider.

Before I get started considering whether or not Social Media is ruining childhood altogether – I want to define Social Media.

A quick Google search (my apologies to the teams from last week) reveals that a common definition would be “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking” (Lexico, 2020).

Which, honestly to me does not clear up a whole lot. Instead I prefer the definition Nancy offered up in class – she said Social Media is “People connecting to others using technology [in a two way communication]”. Since that definition makes more sense to me (and since I consider Nancy a Social Media Guru) I am applying that definition to my thoughts on tonight’s topic.

The team arguing in AgreementChristina and Laurie

Some of this teams points that resonated most with me:

  • Studies have shown Social Media affects the mental health of young people in a negative manner. ie. The curating of feeds to only show lives in a positive light, receiving backlash for sharing feelings that are negative.
  • Social Media can be used as a tool for cyberbulling.
  • Social Media can act as a platform in which young people can be exploited by others including those seeking to prey on children (most children have a Social Media account prior to being of age to comply with the restrictions set out by the companies).
  • Digital Citizenship teaching during childhood may not be enough as many of these children are not developmentally capable of applying the strategies taught to them, and are still acting upon impulse.

Their first point reminded me of a lesson I found while conducting research for my last ECI 832 class : Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy. It was looking into the possible effects of social media on teenagers, and I came across Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Lessons’ Data Base. This particular lesson wad called “Who are you Online?” the video that accompanied the lesson I think is some interesting food for thought in regards to this team’s argument.

Via Common Sense Education’s Official Youtube page
Also: If you’re interested in checking out the whole lesson click here. It includes a debate!!

The Team Arguing in Disagreement Amy and Dean

Some of this teams points that resonated most with me:

  • Social Media can improve the lives and potential outcomes for success in children and adults, specifically for those in small or remote communities looking for connection, community and belonging.
  • Social Media can be used to amplify the voices and messages of those in marginalized communities (they profiled changemakers and positive stories to drive this message home).
  • Teens today are less likely to report being lonely than those in previous decades.
  • Social Media can provide unique opportunities for Communication, Connections and Creativity which is especially important in light of current circumstances.

This last point was brought up my Nancy in her “Nancy’s Notions” portion of their video. It reminded me of perhaps one of the main reasons I agreed with this team in the first place – the ability of digital tools, including social media to foster skill building. Skills that Jasmine and I agrued in our debate are necessary for all people to build in order to have equity when it comes to technology and our society.

Via Common Sense Education’s Official Youtube page

In summary, once again each team brought up valuable and valid points – that lead to some fascinating discussion. I am starting to see that is the beauty of debates in the first place.

When it comes to this particular issue, I think I still believe that Social Media has the capacity to act for good in the lives of our children, you need not look further than youth activism we have seen arise of late – organized and spread through channels of social media. That being said I do think it’s important to critically examine and constantly re-evaluate the the role social media is playing the the average child’s life – knowing that most are using the platforms as an extension of their social lives, rather than a platform for societal change.

What are your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “The Great EdTech Debate – CHAPTER FOUR – Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?”

  1. Thanks for the read! I think as a whole, school could do a better job of showing kids how to use social media for social activism. When done properly, it can be so powerful in so many ways. The reality though, I think there are very few kids using SM for activism and rather it’s a constant source of entertainment (TikTok) and social connections (Snapchat). This makes me wonder about the role of the school in all of this and how we can do a better job of teaching this through dig cit among other things.

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  2. Great post! I think your post about using post about using social media for student activism is really important especially when I think about the last debate of the class and about whether or not educators should use social media to promote social justice causes. I could not agree with you more that “we need to constantly re-evaluate the role social media is playing in the average kids life”. I think we are going to have focus more and more on digital citizenship practices with our students as social media use continues to grow.

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  3. The thoughts that I had reading your blog are linked to the point that resonated with you stating that “digital citizenship teaching during childhood may not be enough as many of these children are not developmentally capable of applying the strategies taught to them, and are still acting upon impulse.” This is an idea that has also caused me to pause and reflect because I am of the opinion that there is a huge difference between teaching strategies and students actually being able to implement them. Unfortunately, in this situation, there is a huge risk when it comes to students not being able to apply these strategies. Students have so many challenges when it comes to decision making, peer pressure, and family dynamics that it is often difficult for them to make good choices when it comes to social media.

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