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How is social media impacting children?
Is social media actually ruining childhood?
Amy, Logan, and Carter (the agree side) shared with our class how social media is affecting children in a negative way and is ruining childhood. While Ellen and Elizabeth (the disagree side) presented to our class how social media is not ruining childhood and how it can have a positive impact on children’s lives. Both sides presented very strong arguments and did an excellent job!
The agree side presented to us an article from The Huffington Post- Social Media Affects Child Mental Health Through Increased Stress, Sleep Deprivation, Cyberbulling, Experts Say. In the article it started off talking about a girl who was unable to get away from bullying due to the online world of social media. She talked about her struggle getting verbally bullied face-to-face and how the bullying continued to happen on Facebook. Later in the article it stated “A potent mix of cyberbullying, increased anxiety, stress and sleep deprivation are increasingly linked to mental illness in children, campaigners, doctors and psychologists have told The Huffington Post UK.” This article reminded me of my The Good, The Bad, and The…What Side Are You On? blog post that explored if technology is making our kids unhealthy. During this blog post I looked at both sides of the debate to see how technology was negatively and positively affecting physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and the social health and the well-being of children. Throughout that post I tried to make a point that there are two sides to the debate which have valid pros and cons to social media as well as the positive and negative affects that social media can have on kids. In The Huffington Post article there were a few points that stood out the most to me:
- “With adolescents we know there is a link between social interactions and self-esteem, that they spend lots of time online and that a lot of that time is spent on social networks,” she tells HuffPost UK.”
- “Young people often act first and think of the consequences afterwards; they do not consider how an act now can affect them in future years,” Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at Birmingham’s Woodbourne Priory Hospital, told HuffPost UK. This can have a profound effect on the self-esteem, mood and anxiety levels. By posting pictures or comments on social media they open themselves to scrutiny from many more peers than they are used to when doing this in a classroom – and their comments and pictures are now permanent.”
In Amy Martin’s blog post, Amanda Todd and The Myth of Digital Dualism, she raised many great points about society and the sexualization of women. In her post she wrote, “According to Media Smarts, “three-year-olds already prefer game pieces that depict thin people over those representing heavier ones, while by age seven girls are able to identify something they would like to change about their appearance.”” I agree Amy, this is terrifying! Our children and youth are exposed to so much media through television, music, movies, magazines, advertisements, Youtube, Internet, and all the different forms of social media. There are so many pressures for people to look and act a certain way. I can remember watching a documentary called Sext Up KIDS when I took EC&I832. During the documentary it discusses and “reveals how our hyper-sexualized culture has hijacked childhood and what parents and educators are doing to fight back.” (I encourage you to watch it, but without young children because it is geared for a mature audience as it has profanity and highly sexualized images throughout the documentary). What messages are we sending our children and youth?? The documentary gave a powerful message how youth are not just consuming images online, but producing images now as well. I discussed this in a previous blog The Good, The Bad, and Just Plain Scary Side of the Technology and Media.
Jessica Henrion wrote a thoughtful post called “#nofilterlifestyle.” Jessica talked about how we need to teach children to love and care for themselves. She quoted CBC (2013) “You can get a different version of yourself…. You can edit yourself.” Now with technology we can retake photos until they are “perfect”, edit photographs according to our style, and we can even add a filter over the photo! I thought Jessica made an excellent point when she stated:
… we need to help our students become confident individuals that love themselves. We need to help tear down the expectations social media has to be beautiful and perfect. We need to help our students lead a #nofilter lifestyle!! By doing this we can hopefully begin to prevent our students from reaching out to the online world in unhealthy ways.
Can you guess which photograph has no filter?
On Snapchat there are now different filters that you can use to change up your photographs. Some of the filters are meant to be silly while others you can use to “enhance” your appearance. One of the filters that I used evened out my completion (also looks like I have eyeliner on now) while the other filter gives more of the smokey eye effect and thinned my face. I was raised that I am beautiful with or without make up on and that I do not need to change who I am! What message do these types of filters send to children and teens?
I do have to admit that sometimes the filters that you can add to a photo are a lot of fun! Do students feel comfortable enough to share silly pictures of themselves?
Children and teens are feeling the pressure to look a certain way! In an article called Does social media impact on body image? it discussed how “Magazines and television are often blamed for portraying an ideal body image that causes people to question their looks and lose confidence in themselves. But what about the role social media plays in moulding attitudes to the way we look?” Later in the article “The MPs’ report said pressure to look good had pushed up cosmetic surgery rates by nearly 20% since 2008. ” That is very scary statistic to me!
On April 7th, 1995 my life and my family’s world was shaken! When I was just seven years old I was diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis also known as flesh eating disease. Doctors had to remove the diseased tissue and once I was in the clear then they performed skin graphs. I was left with visible scarring across my chest, on my right shoulder, and down the right side of my back. I discussed my experience in a previous blog post called Will You Be The One To Speak Out?? I talked about not wanting to hide my scars because why would I ever want to hide who I am! My scars tell my story of survival and I am proud of who I am today. I do often wonder if my journey would have drastically changed if social media was around when I was sick. I can recall many newspapers telling my story when I was sick and I still have all of the articles from different newspapers in a special box. The picture above is one of the many newspaper clippings I have from when I was young and in the hospital. I can even remember being on CTV Regina news when I came out of the hospital! I was sitting in my living room when I saw the clip and saw my photograph on the television. I asked my parents why they were talking about me because at the time I did not understand how serious my illness was and how worried everyone in the community was. Facetime would have been amazing when I was in the hospital so I could have talked my family more often especially my older sister and younger brother. I missed them so much while I was in the hospital as I only got to see them on the weekends. I also wonder what people would have wrote about me in all of the different forms of social media if it existed over twenty years ago. Maybe social media would have made me more self conscious about my body? Maybe if I was older I would have wished to use a filter to try to hid my scar?? There could have been a lot of positives too! Maybe I would have found groups of people who had similar surgeries before? Maybe people would have created a group to write me notes to send positive encouragement and prayers to my family? With social media there are some negatives sides, but there are so many positive aspects of social media!
I believe we are always very hard on ourselves and sometimes tend to see our faults first instead of our strengths.
Check out this video below!
In this Dove video it showcases how we truly are our own worst critic and we see all of our flaws that do not stand out to other people. We need to start to embrace who we are and focus on the positives instead of the negatives!
There are other videos to view that were created by Dove that showcases how media “enhances” images before the photographs go on billboards or adds. The video was called Dove Evolution | With some images, all is not what it seems. Near the end of the video these words appear on the screen, “No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.” I could not agree more! I was excited to see that dove and the campaign were looking at the male version of real beauty as well. That video is called Dove campaign for real beauty (male version). I think that sometimes we forget that boys need to talk about self esteem too. Boys have pressures to look a specific way just like girls do. There is another video called Dove Legacy | A girl’s beauty confidence that explores the importance being role models to children by loving ourselves and not cutting our self down with negative thoughts. Finally there is another great video called Dove Real Beauty Sketches | Mothers & Daughters. I think these Dove videos are great to view because they open to the doors to have great conversations in the classroom. It also gives students time to understand the importance of loving yourself!
Here are some other resources for teaching self-esteem:
- Dove has some great Self-Esteem Resources for Youth Groups
- MediaSmarts- Gender Representation
- Ten Activities to Improve Students’ Self-Concepts
- Self-Esteem from Discovery Education
In the CNN article “Is social media ruining our kids?” a comment that stood out to me in the video was when they talked about how what kids are posting is not matching what they are feeling. It reminded me of the video that Amy, Logan, and Carter shared with us to watch to have more understanding on how social media can effect us.
I encourage you to also read an article called Split Image by Kate Fagan and watch the video that is linked in the article. The message from the video above connects to Madison Holleran’s personal story. “On Instagram, Madison Holleran’s life looked ideal: Star athlete, bright student, beloved friend. But the photos hid the reality of someone struggling to go on.” Parents, teachers, and community members need to make sure they are reach out to students and build positive relationships with them.
In the CNN article “Is social media ruining our kids?” it started off by stating “It is 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are? A decade ago, if your answer to that question was, “Yes, at home,” you felt comfortable that your children were in a safe and secure place. That’s no longer true. Now that kids have smartphones and tablets, they can hang out on a dangerous street corner without ever leaving their room.” I encourage you to watch another documentary about a young girl named Amanda Todd. The Fifth Estate’s documentary was entitled The Sextortion of Amanda Todd and during the documentary it talks about Amanda’s life. Amanda had a beautiful voice and often posted videos of her singing on YouTube using her webcam from her bedroom. One day she made one mistake in front of her webcam that led to her being bullied at the schools she attended, online, and also being blackmailed online. Students need to be educated not only about positive self esteem and , but they need also need to understand digital citizenship. I do not want my students to have to go through online shaming. I am hoping that I can teach powerful life lessons to my students when they are young so they do not have to go through the online shaming that Justine Sacco has inquired from one Tweet she posted on Twitter. I have explored online shaming before in two previous posts called Do You Think Before You Post or Share Online? and my Do You Have A Digital Tattoo? What Story Does It Tell?.
It is important not to just look at one side of the debate! Ellen and Elizabeth shared with us some great articles on how social media can be very positive to children and teens. One of the articles discusses 5 Reasons You Don’t Need to Worry About Kids and Social Media.
- It strengthens friendships- Social media can allow children and teens to feel more outgoing and can help build their friendships stronger.
- It offers a sense of belonging– Social media can help students feel less lonely and are becoming “more socially adept.”
- It provides genuine support- Children and teens have the opportunity to find acceptance through groups who share similar hobbies or have the same values in life. It also gives children and teens “immediate access to quality support online.”
- It helps them express themselves– Children and teens get a chance to be creative through self-expression on social media.
- It lets them do good– Social media expose children and teens to important topics and events from all over the world. “Kids realize they have a voice they didn’t have before and are doing everything from crowdfunding for people in need to anonymously Tweeting positive thoughts.”
In Angela Barnes and Christine Laird’s article The Effects of Social Media on Children discusses that social media “…is not just an avenue for socializing; kids and adolescents can be creative, interact, and learn.” It also allows for peers to stay connected in and outside of school hours with others from similar interests and hobbies. Social media can lead people to accept others and their differences. It can even help students complete their homework and other class projects! Michael Sheehan also shares his opinions on 5 Reasons Why Social Media Might Actually be Good for Your Child.
- Keep up with friends
- Collaborate with schoolmates
- Discover new interests
- Get prepared for the future
- Get creative
This week everyone in our class had very thoughtful and well planned blog posts. In Lisa’s post This is Not a Box she had many great insights throughout her post. Lisa discussed that “We need to encourage children to have a balanced childhood where they can enjoy playing outdoors with friends and improve their social skills, but also learn about and enjoy technology.” Also thank you for sharing the article “Childhood Isn’t What it Used to Be” by Randi Zuckerberg! I thought it was very interesting! Stephanie brought up a great point when she discussed a workshop that she attended by Rick Lavoie. In her post she commented “that we need to recognize the childhood our students and children are experiencing is nothing like the childhood we experienced. He cautioned us to think about how we respond to students.” I agree that our environment has changed significantly and when I was in my teens social media was just beginning. We can not compare our childhood because it is like comparing apples and steak. Ashley’s post Does social media need a time out? was well written! Ashley addressed many key points and I enjoyed reading her thoughts about how social media is “hurting the development of face to face communication skills in our youth and even adults.” She talked about the importance of body language and how our tone of voice both play a vital role in the way we communicate. However, when we use technology and type our responses body language and tone of voice becomes removed which can lead to some misunderstandings between people. Ashely shared an interesting video called Text Tone Deaf and it showcases the misunderstandings that can occur. I encourage you to check it out!
At the end of is technology making our kids unhealthy debate I was teetering between agree and disagree because both side brought forward valid points. I came to the conclusion that by educating our children and youth I think we can help them find a balance. Balance has been a word used often in people’s reflections during our EC&I830 debates and in their blog posts. Where do I stand on this debate? Is social media ruining childhood? In the The Huffington Post article that I shared earlier in this post had a quote by Lucie Russell who is a Director of Media and Campaigns at YoungMinds. I thought the quote sums up my thoughts nicely on this topic. The quote stated:
“We need to realize young people are on social media and that’s here to stay, now it’s about giving them skills to manage their online lives.”
I believe if children are not taught the skills, if they are not given the knowledge or are not having open conversations about self esteem, digital citizenship, cyberbullying/bullying, and the importance of living a healthy life style then social media could have the potential to ruin a child’s life if they do not have a support system. I believe children need to know they can count on a trusted adult to turn to for advice and for support in their lives. Sometimes students may even contact someone through using social media or use one of the many support groups that exist in the different online spaces. I think if children and youth are educated about social media, know how to maintain a positive digital footprint, and have a support system that social media will not ruin their life. In the CNN article and video that I mentioned earlier in my post discussed, “Kids whose parents were involved were less likely to get up set about social media.” Parents, educators, and the entire community need to work and come together…
Photo Credit: Small World Learning Village