Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

As I write write write this week, I am trying hard to get to some of the blogs written by my classmates that I have not visited yet. It is hard to reach everyone!

I started by checking out Kayla Brodner’s blog and she bought up a good point, that “with all the inequalities in our society, every childhood experience is different. Some are oppressed and deal with poverty, abuse, etc. Things difficult things many other people have never and will never face.” I think she raises an excellent point in terms of our debate, this argument is totally situational to a child’s home environment, parenting, and depends on inequalities a child may or may not face in their life.

The definition of childhood is so so different for everyone. I have openly discussed how I restrict technology for my young kids. This has garnered a lot of judgement from others. But you know what? Is not so much that I am restricting it, as we are just doing other things! I must do those things because there is a part of my own childhood that I am trying to preserve? This is true. I do think that my kids deserve to have a childhood like mine, and guess what. They are currently having a childhood like mine because I’m not sitting around as a parent or a teacher simply romanticizing my childhood; I get to re-live it every single day alongside my children and my students  through Outdoor Education, which I believe will be one thing in their narratives that will forever interweave their life stories back to mine. But children get older, and the inevitable happens! Jeremy shared in his blog his “preparing” for his son to be at the age where he will begin to use social media, which has been so helpful. He said:

“I feel the fear. But, instead of getting stuck in obsessing over the issues, I’d sooner try and find potential solutions to the problem. In thinking about my own son’s future experience, I’m not going to simply allow him to go onto whatever sites he wants. Using the Common Sense Media curriculum, I can easily find direction into how to best monitor and support my child as they make their first clicks online. -Jeremy Black

Parents look to other parents for support, encouragment and to learn.What we are often met with, is judgement. We think that our children and teenagers feel the heat, feel the judgement of others when they use social media? Try being a new mom!!!

I can relate to depression and social media, which is funny because I rarely use it. The first time I really started looking at instagram and reading blogs, however…was at a time when I found myself seriously sleep deprived, post par tum, and trying to calm an colicky baby who couldn’t be calmed as I prayed she wouldn’t wake my 18 month old who was sleeping in the next room. What I turned to in the middle of the night when the whole world was asleep and I was waiting my 45 minutes until she would be up again, (so no point in falling back asleep) was my iPhone. I relentlessly searched mom blogs for the answer to colic. Sometimes I read the same blogs and saw the same meanies, over and over again.

zo A peaceful moment in the eye of the storm -Zoey at 3 months.   Photo: Nicole Putz

Looking back, I now realize how wobbly I was post-partum. So I can truly relate to teenagers now-when you are at your weakest someone telling you it will get better, (specifically giving you a timeline that doesn’t happen) is traumatic. So is reading other people’s hostile and negative comments, even though not directed specifically at me, they were directed at my situation so still fell on my shoulders. Also traumatic. Seeing “internet perfection” everywhere you look and comparing yourself to it? Bingo. Perfect combination. I also realize now that it was not technology that was the problem, nor was it my baby. It was my own obsession in using these tools to fix something, that just needed time. Sometimes in life, we just need to be patient. This revelation however, is coming from a thirty year old, not a 13 year old. It made me realize how powerful social media and the internet can be.

Social media has changed things, very fast. We have to power to ensure that social media is positive for kids though regulation, education, and being positive role models. I think that some of the responsibility of social media getting in the way of childhood has to fall on the parents shoulders. Not that a parent can intercept every single risk that their child takes in life or online, but in the experience I just shared, I see that parents have a tendency to act hugely judgmental towards each other online and in person over guess what? Each others PARENTING. But our kids….. they are supposed to know how to be nice to each other, and non judgmental; despite the fact that their role models are not. If we are speaking to things within our control, we all have the ability to be nicer, kinder people, regardless of our socioeconomic status.

Erin Benjamin questions in her blog as to “why don’t we take a huge step and start discussing social media in early elementary grades and not wait until middle school when there are already a myriad of cyberbullying issues?” and calls us to “be vigilant and ensure the mental health of our students and children by recognizing social media likely isn’t going anywhere, but can be used to promote rather than hurt. Let’s lead them, from an early age, to use social media to amplify positive relationships.” I know so many families whose ‘thing’ is technology and it is what they enjoy doing together. So who gets to judge that? I know families who love to follow each other on Social Media and their snapchats and Instagram posts bring them closer together! We have all seen Stephanie Pipke-Painchaud’s  daughter interact with technology. She’s brilliant. It is very clear that Social Media is NOT ruining her childhood. Kids are using social media, so are parents. Its time to work together and use it for good, because as we all know, it is oh so powerful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

  1. Great perspective on this debate! Maybe kids are ruining the potential and positive aspects that social media brings to society. This thought REALLY made me think!

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  2. Nicole- When you discuss restricting your child’s time with technology, I am totally on board with you! (Actually after reading Danielle’s post this week I found that I already implement some of the things she suggests).

    What struck me in your post was the question you had of yourself when thinking about why your children don’t have time to use technology. I had never considered that I may restrict my children’s time as a way of preserving my own childhood memories and activities. I realize there are other reasons I do it too, but perhaps my own nostalgia worked against me to instigate the restriction and I didn’t even realize!

    Thanks so much for the great questions and thoughtful post!

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  3. Great thoughts Nicole. It really does fall to parents to be modelling what good social media use looks like. I like to compose our tweets as a class so that we can check spelling and reflect on the post before it goes up.

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  4. You seem to have found a healthy balance in your house between social media and family time. I like your statement about how engaging kids in things you did as a child will “forever interweave their life stories back to mine.” This is a powerful statement about creating commonalities between generations.

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    1. I agree that you seem to have found a healthy balance, and this is so refreshing to see. I feel for parents of low SES who have to work multiple jobs and aren’t able to provide the limitations of technology and who model and instill a healthy balance.

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