Childhood and social media

I can spew out a multitude of statistics that speak to both the positives and negatives of social media on children as well as state my personal opinions on the matter, and make no mistake, I intend to do both, but the opinionated “fact” of the matter is that, today, social media IS childhood. Before my classmates hop on-board and say, “But Logan, I thought you were on the agree side of the statement: social media is ruining childhood. It’s true, I debated in favour of that comment in class. However, the statement itself is too black and white. Addressing the statement as an impartial and judicious individual, you are obligated to disagree. For some, it enhances creativity, for others, it can be catastrophic. Regardless, it is what our kids our doing and it is how they connect with the world and each other, be it positive or negative, it has the capacity to achieve both. Friendships are no longer limited to the two hours where you could go out and play together, dependent on dad to give you a ride to Rene’s house. Now you can connect with friends to meet in person, rather than be stuck on the landline, fighting over who gets the single phone in your family. But is screen time becoming overwhelming,  and is our children’s health at risk? Much like the argument can be made that adults (some) have a tendency to complain about the next generation, children and society is constantly evolving in its learning, socialization, consumption of information and inherent problems therein as I attempted to identify above. It doesn’t mean that social media is all sunshine and butterflies, just like it doesn’t mean that because some adults have a tendency to romanticize their own childhood functions as a feasible argument against the

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“Mr. Petlak Facebook Creepin'”

negatives of social media.

And there are negatives.

Social media comes with potential backlash as you can still connect to past partners which potentially inhibits breakup recovery and growth. It can cause anxietylimit sleep, correlate to dating too young, a decline in communication skills or be a distraction in class… and this doesn’t even acknowledge the widespread availability of pornographic material.

And there are positives.

Learning about digital citizenship can translate to advocacy campaigns to bring about positive change worldwide rather than limited to a particular community, building on the notion of six degrees of Kevin Baco- err… separation. Digital literacy and connectedness through social media are valuable assets in a job market growing to utilize social media. And, if educated properly, can make students leaders online in communities that may be subject to abuse and misogyny using anonymity for protection much like those who incite hatred may do. Not to mention expanding opportunities for knowledge in open education or personal learning networks.

Social media is worth arguing and researching about, but facts aside, it’s what most of our children do and love/hate. As always, rather than scold, education is gold. It’s not meant to be a deliberate lack of appreciation for the research and facts, as there is evidence supporting both sides, but social media present a wide spectrum of possibility.

Below is our closing statement video in which students spoke of how social media is ruining childhood, but childhood, as Ellen and Elizabeth put it in their debate, is abstract and subject to change generation to generation. Today’s childhood is social media. Student experiences will be different than ours, the emotions may be the same, but the vehicle in which anxiety and connectedness occurs is and has been constantly evolving, for better or for worse.

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below! Or give my fellow debaters a look to see their opinions on the matter! Amy and Carter

Logan Petlak

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