Children and Social Media- A good mix or a recipe for disaster?

We heard some great arguments from both sides of the debate this week on whether or not social media is ruining childhood.

In their opening statement video, Melinda, Alyssa and Lori explain that social media could be contributing to depression in children and causing risky behaviour online such as sexting. They also state that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain is not fully developed in children. This part of the brain is responsible for decision-making and social behaviour, therefore social media is not appropriate for children. Cyberbullying, negative and permanent digital footprints and online predators are all reasons why children should not be using social media.

On the disagree side, Erin, Brooke and Daniel have many great points in their opening statement video. They explain that social media in fact strengthens relationships and creates a sense of belonging because we are now able to interact with the world in ways we couldn’t in the past. Social media is described as a means of support for children dealing with challenges in their lives. They explain that social media can encourage learning by combining facts with reflections. Social media is also a means for children to make the world a better place. This team explains that social media is a tool that requires adults to educate youth on appropriate ways it can be used.

Upon further reading, I came across Helen Knauf’s article explaining the use of social media in a Kindergarten classroom. The teacher in this classroom uses social media as a way to connect classroom learning with the wider community. Social media is used as a communication and learning tool with parents and people throughout the world. The young children in this classroom are not left to use social media on their own, their teacher is directly supervising the use and the content that is going back and forth. In this sense, I feel that social media is benefiting the children’s learning and confidence.

In Michael Niehoff’s article, he points out 9 great ways that high school students are using social media to further their learning. Collecting data, projecting their digital portfolios and ideas, as well as collaborating with peers and seeking support from teachers and experts are all wonderful benefits for the use of social media in the classroom.

Children and teens using social media strictly for school purposes seems to be a positive tool. However, social media can creep into everyday personal lives and that is where there is a problem!

Gwen Schurgin O’Keeffe and Kathleen Clarke-Pearson discuss the benefits and risks to children and teens in their article, The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. The risks are high for cyberbullying to occur on social media sites without the knowledge of parents. I love the idea put forth in their article, to have regular family meetings about social media rules and the topics that are being discussed online. Parents need to be proactive and talk to their children before challenges arise. However, if cyberbullying goes unchecked it can have dangerous consequences.

So where do I stand on this debate? I have included a vlog below with my personal thoughts. I would love to know where you stand! Comment below with your thoughts, ideas and experiences using social media with students and/or your children at home.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Children and Social Media- A good mix or a recipe for disaster?

  1. Good job on your first vlog,Esther! I have yet to take that leap!
    I liked how you approached this debate from both sides, recognizing the use of social media as a tool but to be used appropriately with guidance and for older students only. If parents and teachers are using social media alongside very young students, it will model appropriate use so that when students gain their independence, they will have had a significant amount of role modelling occur. (Hopefully).
    Having said that, I think that in this day and age, it is crucial that caregivers model appropriate use from the beginning and not leave children out of the process all together. If students to reach the appropriate age to sign up for social media sites without having online behaviours modelled regularly, I think there is a risk of some naive decisions that may affect people later on.
    As an example, I have a family member who would not let his son do anything with social media until he was of age. A noble intention, right? However, that family member is also not a user of social media, and therefore his son did not have any role modelling about what should and should not be posted. As of recently, that young man is of age and is signing up for social media. I received a request from this young man to follow me on Instagram and I followed him back. His first post was a picture of his cat. His second was Call of Duty meme with an overtly racist subtitle. I am concerned that the latter post will follow him into the future. But because his dad does not do Instagram, he will not know about it. I have since mentioned it to his dad, but the post is still there.
    On the other hand, I have made co-decisions with my daughter about what to post on social media and what not to since she was little. Will she make mistakes? Possibly. But I also know that we have had plenty of conversations and co-decisions about what to post.
    So, I guess what I am trying to say is that complete abstinence is not going to prepare students for this new world we are in. I agree with you that parents and teachers need to participate in social media WITH children and not FOR them.

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  2. Great post-Esther, I really liked your Vlog and I agree to most of the things she states and I feel that young children may not be fully equipped in protecting their personal information while posting on social sites and they need guidance and supervision without that it could leave them to open judgments. While the advantages of social media tools are bountiful yet it had its own negative outcomes. While social media tools can be a great source of knowledge sharing, interaction it can also be distracting. There are positive and negative ends but as educators, I feel that it is our duty to tailor our students in becoming positive and efficient digital citizens so that they will be safe and successful in the future. Once again great read and will look forward to your next one.

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