Monday, November 9, 2015

It's Complicated

This morning I posted our "winners" for our HS and MS Digital Citizenship Week activities, I took a few minutes to reflect on the activities and assess if (and how) they impacted our students. I know that I had great participation based on the entries but that may have been the motivation of a Free iTunes card! What I do know, is that I learned from my students! This week opened up some honest dialogue that I had with some HS students that gave me a new insight and understanding of their digital lives and social media.

In one of our discussions, I shared the following two quotes from the book, "It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens" by Dana Boyd:

"In a world, where information is easily available, strong personal networks and access to helpful people often matter more than access to the information itself." (Dana Boyd, It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens)
 "Along with planes, running water, electricity, and motorized transportation, the Internet is now a fundamental fact of modern life." (Dana Boyd, It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens)

From these quotes, we discussed their social media choices, their different personalities in different contexts online, their perception of privacy, and their interaction with their peers in an online and offline context. Our main discussion was what social media added to the quality of their social lives and what it took a way.  A couple interesting comments I heard from students were:
"Social media helps teens stay connected and it also seems to "make kids cool." 
"Teens can plan more activities through social media and also talk to a larger amount of peers at once."
"Teens can receive help, encouragement, and motivation through their social media connections." 

"One thing social media takes away is privacy. Most people post on social media all day everyday so nothing is all that private anymore."  

"I'm guilty of choosing social media over family-time sometimes"

I wasn't really too surprised by their discussion of social media and being connected but what I did learn was that to our students, it is not a "thoughtful" choice if they are connected or not, it is just part of life. It's what they know and have grown up with. Just like 40 years ago I went to the swimming pool every day to stay connected with my friends over the summer. It didn't matter if I liked to swim, I didnt' go there to swim, I went to see and connect with my friends.

The conversation then moved to SnapChat. As a social media user, I try all the apps to see what is and isn't but even though I attempt to use SnapChat I just "didn't get it". These students made it easier for me to understand what draws them to this social media platform. They aren't trying to be sneaky or hide things, they are not all sending inappropriate snaps, they are connecting and communicating in a style that they like. The majority of the students discussed that there is no pressure from SnapChat--no likes, comments, favorites, etc. They add a picture and it becomes part of their story. They aren't checking to see if they received any positive feedback.

It's all so complicated, but the teens get it! I feel as a educator, parent, and grandparent, that I need to try and see through the eyes of these digital natives.  I know one thing that I am going to do is go back and read the book, "It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens" by Dana Boyd. If you have not had the opportunity to read this yet, it is definitely worth the time.  The author does a great job exposing youth culture and "uncovers some of the major myths regarding teens' use of social media." I recommend adding this to your reading list!

1 comment:

  1. I've heard the comparison between the places we went as kids with the online places kids go today and I think it's so true. Kids have ALWAYS gone where adults aren't, not to do horrible things, just to hang out. Setting strong values and a foundation at home and school will do just as much good as it did 30, 40, 50 years ago. The behavior hasn't changed, just the place. Great post, Patty!