Social Media is Not the Villain in Your Childhood Story

Tuesday night’s edition of The Great EdTech Debate was extra exciting for me! My partner, Dean, and I had been working for the past couple of weeks to build our case, and, on Tuesday, it was finally our turn to go to bat for social media!

The Great EdTech Debate – Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

Before I begin, I would like to thank our opponents, Laurie and Christina, for a fun debate! Their thought provoking video (shown below) and impeccable rebuttal skills made them a tough team to go against! Be sure to check out their blogs (linked above) to hear their side of the debate. 

No – Social Media is NOT Ruining Childhood

Dean and I took on the task of arguing that social media was not ruining childhood. Now, full transparency, when I first read the debate question, I probably would have put myself on the AGREE side. That being said, I chose the disagree side, as I thought it would give me a chance to challenge my own thinking and beliefs. Boy, am I glad I made that choice!!

I came to realize that social media has such a bad rep for many people. You are constantly hearing about all of the negatives coming from social media, such as cyber-bullying or sexting, which can make any positives get lost in the constant dark cloud. Well, Dean and I tried to shine some light on those positives!

We knew we had our work cut out for us when the pre-votes came in. Granted, they were closer than I expected, but we were still in the minority of the vote.

We opened our debate with our own rendition of a Fake News Report.

In our video, we highlighted a few of the positives that we believed can come out of social media, such as:

  1. Building Connections
  2. Finding Support
  3. Having a Platform

We also used the article 10 Examples of the Positive Impact of Social Media to add to the key points we addressed in our video. Those positive impacts included:

  1. Younger students can feel empowered by teaching older relatives how to use technology
  2. Social media can be used to create a positive digital footprint
  3. Social media provides parents an opportunity for open communication
  4. Social media can help students learn essential job skills
  5. Social media can lead to more communication
  6. Students can use technology to form or join groups
  7. Social media provides a platform to showcase creativity
  8. Social media offers students a way to stay connected
  9. Students can use social media to promote their civic engagement
  10. Students can utilize social media to spread social awareness and kindness

We also used a “top 10” style article from Jennifer Casa-Todd, as well as various articles and videos in our Wakelet, to further support our case.

After a great back and forth during the rebuttals, the results of the post-vote was in! 50/50!

My Final Thoughts

Throughout this entire debate, even though I was on the disagree side, I have to applaud me opponents for bringing up several points that made me stop and rethink my own defense. Their arguments around safety and who is “responsible” to educate children and teens on how to be smart social media users were hard to argue against. As an educator, I know how full teachers’ plates are already, and adding social media education can seem both daunting and impossible.

That being said, as it was pointed out in the class conversation, the education has to start somewhere. There are adults who struggle to navigate social media (even world leaders. . .); however, since social media is so deeply woven into today’s society, we cannot simply ignore it.  In Laurie and Christina’s video, they state that 81% of teens use social media. With such a high percentage, we cannot simply hope social media will go away. I am still not sure where this education comes from, whether it is parents, or teachers, or both. . . but the education has to be there. This is the main point from the debate that still stumps me.

In the end, I have come to this conclusion: As Kalyn stated in our class discussion, social media is NEW, but not bad.

For many people, new can mean scary; however, the term RUINING is a very drastic term to use. Childhood now looks very different than it did in past decades, and it will look different again in decades to come.

As I mentioned above, when it comes to social media, the negatives often make the news and headlines, which can cloud any positives that are also a result of social media use. We need to remember all of the good that can also comes out of social media, such as;

  • Social media allows those who may not have a voice (whether it be from anxiety, isolation in a remote town, or otherwise) to find their voice.
  • It allows connections to be made all around the world, which has become more evident in the last couple of months than ever before.
  • If offers resources, such as The Kids Help Phone, at your fingertips.
  • It gives people a platform to share their talents
  • and, it allows people to find others similar to themselves (which may not always be easy).

Yes, there is no doubt that social media comes with some challenges, but they aren’t all necessarily new. Comparing how you look did not just happen because of filters on an app. Bullying happened, and still happens, on the playground. Dangerous challenges were being done in backyards long before the Tide-Pod challenge went viral. And children and teens have been glued to screens since they first got televisions and video games. Granted, some of these issues are now more visible, and I am not saying it is right; however, it is not new. . . it is just being displayed differently.

In the end, like everything else, there needs to be a balance, and education, when it comes to social media use. Social media shows no signs of slowing down. Massive corporations have social media reps as careers. So, we cannot simply ignore this “new” things that has entered childhood, but, rather, we need to learn how to properly navigate it. So, for me, social media is CHANGING childhood, but not ruining it. And with change, comes new things to learn and navigate.

3 thoughts on “Social Media is Not the Villain in Your Childhood Story

  1. I love your comment that Social Media is NEW not BAD! I too was on the disagree side right from the start as I believe every generation of adults believe that childhood is being ruined by something new. I feel it is so much more important to embrace change than to hide from it.
    As a teenager WITHOUT Social Media I faced so many of those same fears and problems, but I learned to navigate my way through and came out pretty unscathed I think. It is always worrisome I think for parents because teens are just starting to express themselves as teens and parents tend to forget they did the same, just at a different time period.
    Like you said, Social Media is NOT going away so let’s embrace it and teach our children how to use it wisely and in moderation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Is Social Media Ruining Childhood? – My Digital Learning Journey

  3. Thanks for your post Amy!

    You and Dean did a wonderful job with your debate, and I think it’s great that you challenged yourself by selecting a side that may not have initially agreed with. I definitely agree with you that we tend to hear a lot of the negative cases surrounding social media, but it’s quite rare to find a lot of positives unless you go looking for them. In my experience as a Grade 8 teacher, I would argue that I’ve had far more positive experiences with social media use with my students than negative. Whether that was utilizing Twitter for Mystery Skypes, Instagram to share our learning or the use of messenger to connect with students away from school – all of these resulted in positive experiences for my students and I. This doesn’t even take into account all the benefits of social media that you mentioned in your post. However, it seems that we could have 100 great stories and only 1 negative experience, and all people would remember is negative. In the end, though, I really believe you nailed it when you said, “there needs to be a balance, and education when it comes to social media use”. As educators, we still need to recognize that while there are certainly negative aspects to social media use, if we take the time to educate our students to become responsible digital citizens, this not only can negate these aspects but also prepare them for the future.

    Thanks again for a great post,

    Matt

    Like

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