Kids and Social Media – A Great Combination

Social media is ruining childhood.  This seems like a harsh statement when I think of the many positives that come from individuals having access to Social Media.  I like to think that Social Media does the opposite – it compliments childhood and adds more enjoyment to it.  Social Media and its impacts on society are very often seen as bad mainly because we focus too much on the negatives.  There definitely are negatives associated with Social Media just as there are negatives associated with watching TV or playing competitive sports.  But does that mean we totally stop our children from watching TV or competing in competitive sports?  I think not, but what it does mean is that we must monitor and encourage proper participation or use.

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Photo Credit: triaxmultimedia via Compfight cc Photo Credit: mark6mauno via Compfight cc

This topic of Social Media ruining kid’s childhoods reminds me of the issues I discussed in one of my past blogs where I discussed the importance of adults monitoring our children’s access and activities when utilizing technology.  Also, in another post I talked about the importance of teaching digital citizenship.  It is of the utmost importance that we realize that Social Media is a part of today’s society and that instead of focusing on the negative we must focus on the positives.  With that being said we must teach children the importance of utilizing technology properly and we must limit their access to it as well.  Once we have taught the children about such thinks as digital citizenship, and digital footprints we must teach them the positives that Social Media can have on them.  We must be open with them and have open conversations about Social Media expectations and rules – as does this family in the following video.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/21/living/social-media-positives-teens-parents/index.html

 

As Caroline Knorr states in her article, Social Media can play a positive role in kid’s lives.  It can give them a sense of belonging by connecting them with people of similar interests, strengthen friendships by being connected to friends whenever they may need them, and overall let’s them be themselves when they cannot maybe do so at school or work.  In the article The Truth About Kids and Social Media, they discuss some of the benefits of being online.  Especially how “Social media will help connect them with like-minded individuals, including mentors, that share similar interests and aspirations that can help them achieve their long-term goals.”   Therefore, being online an utilizing Social Media CORRECTLY when they are kids has the potential to assist them later on as they plan for their future careers or dreams.  If properly used Social Media can help ones self confidence or self esteem than we must encourage them to use it.  Benefits of Internet and Social Media explains how the communities available to young people via Social Media can really improve ones social skills and build confidence.  These two attributes are sometimes very difficult to difficult to install in youth – and if these online communities and the social interactions that take place can do this then we must see it as a positive.

As stated earlier, young children need to be directed and encouraged to utilize Social Media properly.  In doing this they must also be made aware of the potential risks that can be linked to Social Media.  “Eliminating social media isn’t just unrealistic – it has it’s own risks for kids” states Susan Shaffer and Linda Perlman Gordon in Chandra Johnson’s article How Parents Can Help Kids Understand Social Media Risks. Thus, we must ensure kids know how to use it and realize all the risks associated with it.  Parents and teachers must talk with kids and to be able to have these conversations we must all have a sense of Social Media.  We must take the time to investigate Social Media outlets and ask our own questions on the securities associated with each one.  Maybe even some adults have as much sense of Social Media as the kids in this short video:

 

In closing, Social Media can open so many doors to kids but like anything in life – if used properly.  Also, we must ensure that kids understand their responsibilities that go along with using Social Media and the potential risks that there may be  if used incorrectly.  Social Media has potential to in rich children’s lives but will they use it properly or abuse it?  Depending on THEIR choices they will have to live with the great rewards that accompany it or face the harsh realities.

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8 thoughts on “Kids and Social Media – A Great Combination

  1. I have to agree with you Tyler, there are many opportunities to for social media to enhance childhood and education! I am curious if you find you are dealing with social media issues frequently as an administrator. I have heard of many schools saying no social media at school and what happens off school is out of our control. Do you think that we still have an obligation as teachers/administrators to address concerns when they arise on social media even when it is not happening at school?

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    • At the elementary level we almost never use Social Media except for a few classes – it may be something we look at more in the future once I wrap my head around it lol. When I was an administrator at the high school level we dealt with Social Media often – most of it took place after school but our theory is that we must keep kids accountable at all times. The biggest obstacle is the parents – had some say well it happened last night why are you getting involved – when they should be saying I will deal with it at home – wishful thinking.

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      • Thanks Tyler! I agree, accountability at all times! Hopefully as we educate more students about social media we will see this accountability piece become more and more important throughout their lives 🙂

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      • I have found that having a class twitter page, and modelling appropriate behaviours and digital citizenship from this young age (in a very controlled environment) has really supported parents’ understanding of social media. Using our twitter page to document our learning and understanding of digital citizenship elements helps start the conversation at home. I’m hoping that conversations likes this at 7 and 8 years old help decrease the amount of issues being dealt with at the middle school and high school level. I guess only time will tell!

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      • I think it will – I am currently deciding whether or not to start my 10 year old onto social media…the main reason I am hesitating is that he could care less about that stuff, too busy running around being active (which is s great thing)..

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  2. Great post, Tyler, about accountability, balance, and having the proper digital literacy (for adults and children) when using social media. After taking these online classes with Alec & Katia, I also think we, as teachers, need more PD about not only technology but also social media!

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  3. I completely agree! We need to allow kids to be kids and if that involves social media in today’s world, then that’s how it is. But, like you mentioned, kids need to understand their responsibilities with social media. This is something new, as their responsibilities with video games and TV didn’t really exist in the same way previously.
    Great post!

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