Social media is bad.

girls-3481791_640We have all heard the negative headlines in relation to social media and children however as with most stories there are two sides to the coin, and as much as there are negative implications there are also positive ones.   I therefore thought it was appropriate to share my views on the benefits which our children may find in social media.

We have all read about how social media, and related screen time, impact on the sleep patterns of children, how it may result in greater occurrences of mental health issues, that it reduces students ability to concentrate and that it may reduce achievement levels but what about the other side of things.

We live in a more stressful world than ever before.   When I did my standard grades and the odd O-level I wanted to achieve the best results possible but looking back I don’t feel there was any significant pressure.   I don’t remember discussions of leagues tables or comparisons of countries against other countries or even wide scale coverage of the headline results or subject by subject analysis.    These are all common theses days.   Our children are constantly having the narrative reinforced, that exams will shape their future and that they are therefore of massive importance.   This adds stress but where can students go to share their feelings of stress, to vent, to express and to get support and advice?    They could go to their parents, teachers or other adults but our children often find this difficult due to concerns about being judged or about the resulting impact of sharing.  Sharing with a teacher may result in being “put” in extra lessons or being seen to be “less able” whereas sharing with parents may result in having some of their liberties taken away in order to help them “focus” or “put in more effort”.     They must also consider that adults views on things will be based on their experiences which happened some years in the past and therefore do not fully have a bearing on the current world context and on the environment that the students find themselves in.   Social media provides a better option as students can share with their peers and get advice and support from people going through the same situation, in the same, current, context.   A quick look at social media heading up to A-Level and GCSE results day showed plenty of examples of students expressing their stress and worry over the impending results envelope, and/or text message.    This shows a concerning trend but may also have positive implications in that the students can use social media to vent their concerns and frustrations.   Social media also has plenty examples of students sharing words of support, comfort and advice with one another.

We now live in a world where students movements are more closely controlled and monitored.   Gone are the days of the lone instruction being to be “back before the street lights come on”.   Now parents seek to know where children are.    Parents may also ban students from some locales on the basis of perceived risk.  You also have shops banning groups of youths loitering and in some cases even installing devices to make such loitering painful.     There are less opportunities for our children to be social with each other.   Once again social media steps in.    Social media spans the gap allowing children to be social, to discuss and share their thoughts and feelings, even when the adults in their life and society in general is continuing to further curtail the opportunities they have for being social, for fulfilling a basic human instinct which I suspect is all the stronger in a youths teenage years.

I am not saying social media is all good nor am I willing to accept it is all bad.    In the world we now live in it simply “IS”.   What we therefore have to be mindful of is considering the positives and negatives and doing our best to maximise the positive opportunities while reducing as much as is reasonably possible the negatives.

 

 

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

One thought on “Social media is bad.”

  1. This is a balanced perspective Gary. Maybe the society should also look at the failures of parents to handle a scenario that is way beyond them. Social media has come to stay. It is a part of children’s lives, the deal breaker is introducing mechanisms and strategies to help students and parents cope with the situation in order to maximize the benefits.

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