Is Social Media ruining childhood? Here’s a quick recap of the main points discussed in Debate #5. The Agree Team, Fasiha, Gunpreesh, and Dami discussed a lot of valid concerns about children using social media which are included in the picture to the right. In addition to concerns around addiction, distraction, and mental health, the agree team discussed how children who use social media are missing out on the joys of childhood including playing outside, connecting with friends, and using their imagination. The Disagree Team, Jennifer O, Shivali, and Mike, argued that social media, with safe guards in place, can be used for good and therefor is not ruining childhood. They discussed how social media allows children to connect online and find peers with common interests (especially beneficial for marginalized children), provides accessibility to support groups, and allows children to share their voices.
Personally I think not allowing children any access to social media is likely to backfire. In Matt Walsh’s video “The Very Real Damage That Social Media Does to Kids” he takes the stance that social media should be an absolute no go for children! He goes at far to say he would rather his children spoke cigarettes than have unsupervised access to social media. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion I found his stance extreme. Matt Walsh says he wants his children to have a real childhood but what is a real childhood and who decides? My children play outside, they use their imagination and they also use (I think) age appropriate social media! For us it’s a balance. What happens when his children reach an age where they can make choices for themselves and they have had no exposure to social media? They haven’t had to learn how to find a balance between screen and non screen time.
As a parent & educator I do have concerns with social media. In my admin role I deal with a lot of classroom/playground issues in the middle years, many of which stem from social media. I’ve fielded many phone calls from parents related to cyberbullying on popular social media platforms. Even though I have reservations, I don’t think social media is ruining childhood! I DO think it needs to be used cautiously and at an appropriate age (depending on the platform).
Social Media & Parenting
I really enjoyed Jennifer’s swimming – social media analogy. We wouldn’t drop a child into a pool and expect them to swim; just like we shouldn’t give students access to social media and expect them to use it appropriately. It takes significant supervision and practice before children are ready to swim alone and the same can be said for social media. We know children need education and supervision before and while using social media but whose responsible for it? Many of our classmates agreed their should be a shared responsibility between parents, students, social media platforms and educators. I think responsibility shifts as children age. At my children’s age (10, 8 & 5) I think a lot of the responsibility lies with parents.
Matt (I think it was Matt) bought up a valid point about parental responsibility; there is an assumption that parents have the skills to teach their children how to use social media. Our children are growing up with social media, but for most parents social media didn’t exist when they were children. The social media platforms students are using are also always changing as platforms gain/loose popularity. Not only have I been reflecting on Matt’s point but I have been questioning how I educate/prepare my own children for social media. At this time, my 10, 8 & 5 year old don’t use a lot of social media. YAY! My oldest two watch YouTube and have kids messenger and my little guy watches Kids YouTube. With 3 kids in multiple sports our evenings are pretty busy so we don’t have to enforce a lot of limits on screen time. We do monitor kids messenger (we can see their messages on our phones) and we’ve spoken to our children about online safety (only messaging with people they know, not giving out personal information). What am I missing? What else are people doing to prepare their children to use social media? When does the responsibility start shifting to educators & parents? At what age do you think it is appropriate for children/youth to use the popular platforms like SnapChat & Instagram?