I recently watched the video Generation Like on Frontline for my Computers and Technology in the Classroom course. The video highlights how teens today are utilizing social media and how their usage relates to cultural interactions, empowerment, and the power of internet popularity. It reviews how teens interact with one another, the larger communities they are apart of, businesses, and cultural icons of interest. As an educator, learning about the importance of social media to teens leads to an important question – how does understanding how children use the social web better prepare educators for classroom instruction?
First of all, it so so important for educators to have a general understanding of how the internet and social media affect their students emotionally. Having a high number of likes, followers, friends, and shares can make a child who utilizes social media feel great. However, when a child uses social media but does not get the amount of attention they were seeking, they may begin to feel insecure about themselves. As the video stated, the social web is similar to a value system of likes – where many children falsely believe the amount of likes you have can prove your “value”.
My younger sister is in high school and she does not have an Instagram account solely because she does not want to be embarrassed about not having as many followers and likes on photos as her friends. Understanding the importance of social media to our students today is key to better understanding our students in general. Though certain students may flourish on social media, it may give other students anxiety and feelings of insecurity. It is important to remember this if an educator chooses to incorporate social media elements into classroom instruction.
I think it is so important for children today to better understand that social media is a powerful tool and that it is not always just about “likes”, “followers”, or “shares”. The video put a strong emphasis on how many people are marketing themselves through social accounts in a manner only a business or celebrity would have done in the past. Children have the opportunity today to be very empowered through social media to express themselves and who they are through their various social accounts. They also have the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and, with a lot of effort and a little luck, may even make money off of their social accounts. The social web is a wonderful way for individuals to market themselves in an appropriate light, make key connections, and learn about areas of personal career and social interest. If educators begin finding ways to inspire their students to utilize the social web in both an appropriate and productive manner, then we will certainly be heading in the right direction!