Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

Hello everyone!

This week I was able to participate in the EDTC 400 debate. This week’s debate topic created a lot of conversation during the debate. This week’s topic was “Social media is ruining childhood”. The two debaters for this week were Kylie and Lauren. Lauren was on the agree side of the debate and Kylie was on the disagree side of the debate.

Pre-Debate VOte

In the similar fashion to the rest of the debates that the class has participated in, the class completed the pre-debate vote. This week’s pre-debate vote was split pretty much down the middle. In the pre-vote, I disagreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood. I am part of the weird generation that experienced playing outside and minimal technology as a child. I had internet access and access to a television that had limited channels, but I did not really get exposed to social media until I was in late elementary school. I based my vote in the pre-debate on my own experience with social media as a child. I do not think that social media ruined my childhood, and thus I disagreed with this statement.

EDTC 400 Debate 6 Pre-Vote

Lauren’s Side

To begin the debate, the class viewed Lauren’s video that agreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood. Lauren made very strong points in her introduction video. Her four main points are:

  1. Social media is negatively affecting children’s mental health
  2. Social media is addictive and making children less social
  3. Digital footprints and privacy concerns
  4. Social media can cause cyberbullying

Many of the points that Lauren made are some of the points that I have heard from multiple sources about the negative side to social media. I really agreed with Lauren’s statement that social media can be very addictive. In Lauren’s opening statement, she related the addictiveness of social media to a cigarette addiction. If people smoked a cigarette each time they checked social media, they would be smoking a lot of cigarettes. This comment really got me thinking about my own social media usage. I would not be happy with myself if I was smoking a cigarette every time that I went on social media. If I, as an adult, have a hard time with my own addiction to social media, how can I expect students and children to have more self-control than I do with social media?

Kylie’s SIde

After Lauren’s video, the class watched Kylie’s video that disagreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood. Like Lauren, Kylie also made some strong points in her introduction video. Her four points are:

  1. Social Media open’s doors
  2. Children are able to take a stand on social media
  3. Social Media promotes mental health initiatives
  4. Social Media is unavoidable

Kylie connected a lot of her points to real life experiences. One of the connections that I made to Kylie’s video was when she discussed a presentation that Dr. Alec Couros gave to her EDTC 300 class. Even though I was not in Kylie’s EDTC 300 class, Dr. Alec Couros gave a presentation to my EDTC 300 class about the influence that social media has had on his children’s lives. In Alec Couros’ presentation, he discusses how his children have learnt how to play the drums and do make up from watching videos on social media. People of all ages, including children, can learn new hobbies and skills from social media. I have learnt how to crochet, which is one of my favourite hobbies, from watching videos on YouTube and posts from Pinterest. Social media has a lot of benefits, but there are also many drawbacks.

One of the crochet projects I completed over Christmas break

The Debate

After watching both the introduction videos, I was more on the fence than what I initially thought I would be entering the debate. This week’s debate topic peaked interest from most of the class into the discussion. Since social media is extremely ingrained into the lives of most of my classmates, everyone knows what social media is and how to use it. Most of the EDTC 400 class is also part of the weird generation that did not have social media when they were really young, but at some point during their childhood, towards their teens, they got social media all at once.

Photo Credit: nodstrum Flickr via Compfight cc

The Drawbacks of Social Media

To start off the debate, the class discussed the issue of cyberbullying that can occur on social media. Cyberbullying is quite prevalent among young people, with 33% of middle school and high school students stated that they have been cyberbullied, according to Mary Sauer’s article. Unlike physical and verbal bullying, students cannot escape cyberbullying when they go home. Cyberbullying happens online, and with most students having a cellphone on them 24/7, it is near impossible to escape cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is not as easy to spot because students are bullying one another behind screens. Cyberbullying is not something that should be taken lightly either. As Liz mentioned, cyberbullying and the inability to escape the taunting caused someone that she knew in high school to commit suicide. Cyberbullying is dangerous and it has real consequences that students, teachers, and parents must be aware of.

Along with discussing social media, the class talked about the issue of the addiction of cellphones. As adults, many of my classmates, including myself, have an addiction to our cellphones and social media. This addiction to cellphones and social media is not only an issue that adults struggle with. Students can also be addicted to their cellphones and social media. This addiction to social media can cause mental and physical health problems. In Melissa Riddle Chalos’ article, she discusses many of the health concerns that come with teens using social media. One of the points that is made in the article is that many students are not getting enough sleep at night due to using their phones, which emits a blue light and it is proven to make it more difficult to fall asleep. Social media addiction does not only cause students to have lack of sleep, but it can also cause students to develop feelings of FOMO (a fear of missing out) or feeling that they must be perfect online. Social media can contribute to feeling lonely, unhappy, pressured, and amplify the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The Benefits of Social Media

After discussing some of the negative sides to social media, the class began discussing some of the positives that can come with social media. The class discussed some of the connection benefits that social media offers to students. Social media platforms that enable communication, such as Snapchat, give students the opportunity to stay in contact with friends or family that they are unable to see face to face. Students can also use social media or video chatting platforms, such as FaceTime or Skype, to stay connected with their peers and even complete homework as stated in Angela Barnes’ and Christine Laird’s article and Michael Sheehan’s article. Social media, despite some of the dangers of it, can be a great platform for students to use to engage in collaborative learning. During the debate, I mentioned that my brother uses social media to stay connected to his friends by playing video games online. My brother also will use his social media to work with a peer to complete a group assignment when it is too late to meet face to face to work on an assignment.

The final thing that I will briefly touch on about the debate is the comment that Katia made about people having an unrealistic idea of what childhood should look like. I think this was an important point to make because every generation will say “back in my day we had it so good because we did not have (insert piece of technology, whether it be television, cellphones, or social media) and my childhood was way better than yours” to the younger generation. This made me wonder a bit about my childhood. I did not have the influence of social media in my life until the end of elementary school and I do not think my childhood was any better or worse than the childhood kids are experiencing today. Many of the arguments against social media is that it makes kids less social and children do not go outside as much. Even with social media, I see children outside all the time in my neighbourhood. The idea that social media is making children less social is also something that I cannot get 100% on board with. As Shaleen mentioned, children are playing video games together online and also inviting friends over to play the video games together. I think that having social media allows children to be social in a much different way from when my parents were growing up. Instead of having to walk to a friend’s house to hang out or bike past their house to see if they are home, children can now send text messages to stay connected with their friends.

Post-Debate Vote

At the end of the debate, I was still leaning towards the disagree side of the debate. The whole class voted after the debate and it seems that I was on the majority side of the final vote. About 78% of the class disagreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood and 22% agreed with the statement. A picture of the debate results are below.

EDTC 400 Debate 6 post-debate vote

Final THoughts

Even though I do not think social media is ruining childhood, I think that it has the potential to if it is not used properly. There are a lot of dangers that can be associated with children using social media as listed in Melissa Riddle Chalos’ article. Things such as cyberbullying, mental health concerns, and lack of sleep are just a few reasons why social media can be dangerous for young people to use. Even though there are many potential drawbacks of using social media, there are a lot of benefits of allowing children to have access to it as Michael Sheehan explains in his article. Children are able to stay connected, find new hobbies, and be creative online are just a few benefits of social media.

Photo Credit: scootergenius02 Flickr via Compfight cc

The decision of allowing children to have social media is ultimately up to their parents to decide, but even if children have social media they should still be monitored while they are online. Ensuring that children know how to be safe online and what they should and should not post is extremely important when allowing children to use social media. Whatever a child posts on social media can follow them for the rest of their lives. Parents and educators must teach children how to be safe and respectful online. Students must learn that cyberbullying is just as, if not more, dangerous and hurtful than physical and verbal bullying. Students must be taught how to be respectful to everyone online and ensure that they do not participate in cyberbullying. Students must also know that they should reach out to a parent, a friend, or educator to let someone know when they are being cyberbullied. Children should not be left alone to try to navigate social media. Having teacher and parental support online and offline is very important in ensuring the benefits of social media outweigh the negatives.

Thanks for reading my blog post! What do you think is the biggest drawback and benefit of social media? Leave a comment below!

Ashley Osachoff

3 thoughts on “Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

  1. Hi Ashlee!
    I think you’ve done a fantastic job laying out all the points for this debate! I completely agree with you when you said that you think social media use by children is very dependent upon how it is being used. I think that there is so much potential out there for social media to have a positive role in children’s lives, but with that being said we also need to recognize the dangers that exist as well. One of the most important things that I feel needs to be addressed is parent awareness. As I said in my debate, we are living in a time where children know more about social media than their parents, which can lead to many safety and usage issues. If parents aren’t willing to learn about social media and the dangers it can lead to, then how can be expect children to be willing to learn themselves? Great post!
    Lauren

    Like

  2. Hi Ashley! This is a great post of last week’s debate topic and you have summed up both sides well! I think the biggest drawback to social media is the security aspect. Once information is online you know longer can fully get that information back, with that it is important to teach our students to build healthy and positive digital identities. A positive to social media, however, is the worldwide community being formed. The class discussion last week supported that when individuals can not find a group with around their neighborhood, social media acts as a place to make connections and relationships! Let’s look at the importance of us building PLN’s as preservice educators. This will have such importance when we get out in the field and want to make changes to our daily routines! Overall, I think social media has more benefits than drawbacks, but that is just my opinion! Great work!

    Like

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