Social Media: Friend or Foe?

Just a quick pre-debate entry on this week’s topic: Social media is ruining childhood.

This is a big topic for me personally. The debate has the potential to meddle with some serious effort on my part to alter my preconceptions not only on social media’s place in schools, but it’s place in our lives entirely.

Pre-Couros Era

Me? My view of social media was not overly positive. I more or less abstained from using social media, apart from a little used Facebook page to keep in touch with my family. I did not like the idea of having an online presence. The idea that people I do not know can learn about me unnerved me (still gives me pause, to be honest). Kids? As far as our kids are concerned, I automatically zoned in on stories that added fuel to my own negative preconceptions.Stories like this:

The words that came to mind when I thought of social media were:

It goes hand in hand that  I would gravitate to negative perceptions of how social media is impacting our kids and their development. After all, their childhood looks so very different from my own. The extent of my virtual connections were huddling with my friends around our Super Nintendo controllers and cheering each other on as we races for Super Mario Kart supremacy.

I certainly counted among those who believed that social media has played a largely negative impact on our children. Social Media, as far as I was concerned, was foe.

Peri-Couros

This is my third course now with Alec. As I’ve mentioned a few times over my EC&I Edtech run, a major drive for me was a growing realization that my own preconceptions were hurting me (and the kids I taught). Students were bringing their tech to school, whether I liked it or not. Students were using social media, whether I liked it or not. I may not be comfortable with it, but it is reality.

It has taken some deliberate effort, but I no longer discount the potential for social media to do good, both in our schools and life in general. Initiatives like Crisis Mapping and the Ice Bucket Challenge readily come to mind when I describe what I know of social media, and its power to affect positive change. My own practice has already undergone transformation from embracing the power of Seesaw, even for my own small group reading contexts.

Don’t get me wrong, those negative outcomes are still on my mind. They guide how I interact and use social media, and they guide my perceptions of how I want to teach with social media. While I no longer see social media as a foe, I do not necessarily see it a as friend either.

Instead, my current perceptions of social media are kind of settling on a view of it as a tool. It can be a tool to instigate positive change. A catalyst even. But it can also be a tool to inflict terrible damage. I think I am approaching a sort of balance.

Will tonight’s debate support my desired balance? Or will I be presented with something that forces me to rethink my newly forming view of social media?

 

 

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