If you have teenagers, you know the dilemma. How do we get them to make connections without a device?
A subset of this includes:
- How do we keep the phone away from the dinner table?
- At what time should all devices be off in the home?
- Is there a good reason to allow my daughter to use Snapchat? Or Instagram?*
As someone who once conducted workshops on how to adopt social media, I feel it is my responsibility to now warn young people about the unintended consequences of trying to be ‘social’ via a screen. We don’t need research to tell us that a generation could be experiencing serious issues very soon if we thrust smart phones into their hands, and hope for the best.
Conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK, it has young people using words like ‘fake,’ ‘intimidating,’ and ‘superficial’ to describe platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. The report explains how:
- Young people say that 4 of the 5 social media channels make their feelings of anxiety worse!
- A phenomenon called ‘Facebook Depression‘ which involves being ‘constantly contactable’ and having unrealistic expectations of reality. I had never heard of such a phenomenon, though suspected this existed.
- FoMo (Fear of missing out) is also a thing, and is another cause of distress, something adults are just getting to know about.
- There are indeed opportunities, despite the dire warning this report sends out.
* Not many young people realize that Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.
As our modes of communication grow smarter, we seem to be doing a shoddy job of using them. This is not just about the misuse of Twitter, of which dumb tweets are legion. Such as a Time correspondent firing off a tweet wishing for a drone strike on Julian Assange in 2013. This is about young people who have too powerful publishing tools at their disposal. If you like to know more, you will love this compilation!
This week, six High School students in Arizona got themselves and their school into serious trouble, using SnapChat. They got a picture of themselves taken wearing shirts that spelled out a racial slur. They learned, too late, that an app’s ability to ‘communicate’ should not define the message. (If none of them had data-enabled mobile devices would anyone have even bothered setting up the shot?).
An editorial in the Arizona Republic asked how students who have gone through a curriculum that probably included close reading and discussion of the civil war era, could have been so crass.
It’s hard to imagine these girls got this far in school without reading the ugly chapters in American history about the enslavement and oppression of Black people. Did they fail to pay attention? Did they fail to connect the dots to real people?
Let’s not get parents off the hook. How much time are we spending with young people to inform them about media use? It’s easy to be tool literate and media stupid.
Here are some thoughts for parents who may be considering giving a teenager (actually pre-teens, now) a mobile device:
- You pay for the phone and the data plan. You own the device; you set the rules. A phone is not like a pair of shoes, it doesn’t have to belong to the end-user.
- You better decide on the apps that get on the phone. Don’t complain later when a kid is spending too much time on Insta-brag or Brat-chat. I mean Instagram and Snapchat.
- Like your car keys, devices not owned by a child should be stored outside of bedrooms at night.
- It’s possible for homework assignments to be completed without digital devices. Really!
- Make sure your child makes every effort to not be in a video taken by a fellow insta-bragger.
- Finally, make sure your child’s school has a policy that has been updated to match the ubiquity and speed of shared media. It’s no longer valid to call it a ‘social media policy’. It’s a device use policy.
You might be surprised to see me talk about this topic here.
Though I’m a computer and technology advocate, (and teacher) I do make jabs at tech. Technology is meant to serve us, not the other way around. I’ve lately seen how completely ridiculous Instagram has become as pre-teens overrun the space. Classic example: a handful of 11 and 12 year-olds at a party, sending each other status updates. From within the same room!
I thought this was an age thing, until I read this thought-provoking piece titled “Technology is Not The Answer : A Student’s Perspective.” It was published in Education Week in October this year.
By a high-school junior.
He cites cases of why students need to develop personal relationships, and not just on-screen button-pushing skills.
Back to Instagram. This is how WikiHow recommends how to gain followers.
Like and comment on pictures. Once you start following some people, take some time to Like and comment on their photos. Not only will this make the other person feel good, but other people may see your name or comment and check out your profile. If you stay active, this can lead to a steady stream of new followers.
It’s all about making others feel good?
It may be time for schools to require any student who has a phone in their backpack to take a digital literacy 101 lesson. Maybe this is harsh, but some parents need this too.
If you don’t believe me:
- Google the words Instagram, stupid, and people and check out sites such as damn cool pictures.
It’s been great fun this semester, stretching the minds of my students with Digital Storytelling –a topic that seems to lend itself to many aspects.
I am curating a group of these tools on Padlet –itself a space that is itself a great space for pulling together different elements of a story.
But here is one of those neat photo-editing tools that I may introduce next week – a free, online clone of Photoshop. It’s called Pixkr. I used one of the three features of tool called Pixkr-O-Matic.
I took this photo, and –as you’ll see the screen shot of the editing frame– turned it into the one below, with just 4 clicks.
Indeed, the filters have an Instagram-like look to them.
Still trying to find the difference between Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest?
Social media sounds more complicated than it is. I like it when someone demystifies it. I like it better when someone uses a ‘dumb screen’ instead of gratuitously holding up some tablet (as do too many TV news reporters today, notice?) to make a point. Thanks to Douglas Ray for this.
This might help!
Speaking of white boards, this feels like an homage to the late Tim Russert (of NBC’s Meet the Press) who was a master of the white board when trying to simplify an idea in a story.
I sometimes wonder if Tim would have ever clutched at an iPad to make his point as he did here, during the last election.
If you’re interested here’s the video of his explanation to Brian Williams.