You’ve probably heard it before– the complaints from older generations who think that younger generations have got it wrong, and their persistent bragging about how much better it was “back in their day”. It’s a common saying that I hear far too often; one that makes me think to my self, “Back in your day? You mean back when Indigenous children were ripped from their families and put in residential schools? Back when the leading cause of death was the flu? Back when Black people were commonly lynched for doing most ordinary things?” Regardless of the era, the past is a place I do NOT want to visit, nonetheless I keep hearing that it was better than the present. So what makes older generations (and perhaps younger generations) believe that the past was better? Perhaps, it is how quickly the world is changing nowadays. Technology is advancing like crazy! So much so that even the most tech savvy people struggle to keep up with it. But, is it the culprit for today’s so called “ruined childhood”? That’s what this week’s EDTC 400 debate was all about! If you want to know how it all played out, then keep reading!
Proposition: Social Media is Ruining Childhood!
On the proposition side of the debate was Lauren arguing that social media was in fact the cause for today’s ruined childhoods. She believed that social media was ruining childhood because it…
- Has damaging affects on children’s mental health
- Is addictive
- Makes children less social
- Contributes to children’s’ digital footprint
- Leads to privacy concerns
- Facilitates and fuels cyberbullying
Lauren’s argument included a multitude of statements that were well informed and well supported. In my opinion, the most persuasive point that she made was that social media has damaging affects on children’s mental health. A few weeks ago during a debate on whether or not cellphones should be banned in classrooms, I had the opportunity to argue that they should only be banned in elementary and middle school classrooms. One of my reasons for arguing this was the huge amount of health risks that social media has on youth, so when Lauren brought this up I jumped right on board. A study from one of the articles that she shared showed that:
The more time young adults spent on social media, the more likely they were to have problems sleeping and report symptoms of depression.2
This is a highly upsetting statistic, one that should be taken very seriously, but I still question whether or not social media is the culprit for ruining childhood. This statistic seems to point a finger at the amount of time youth spend on social media rather than just social media in general. Hmmm… (insert detective emoji)
Another point that Lauren made was that social media facilitates and fuels cyber bullying. In her argument, Lauren stated that:
In a recent study conducted by Teensafe, Nearly 35% of children have admitted to being victims of cyber bullying.
That is a pretty high percentage! It is sad to think that we live in a world where bullying is so prevalent. What is even sadder than bullying itself are the consequences of bullying. According to another article that Lauren shared,
Cyberbullying can have devastating consequences. Suicide is one. Cases of young kids committing suicide as a consequence of cyberbullying and sexting are increasingly coming to the public’s attention.
Once again, these facts are highly upsetting and should be taken very seriously. The key to solving problems such as the ones that Lauren has laid out for us is finding the cause of the problem. The thing is, I’m still not convinced that social media in its self is the cause, but perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe we will get some answers by taking a look at what the opposition had to say.
Opposition: Social Media is NOT Ruining Childhood
On the opposition side of the debate was Kylie arguing that social media was NOT the cause of ruined childhoods. She believed that social media was not ruining childhood because it:
- Opens doors and provides opportunities
- Can be used to for social activism and taking a stand
- Promotes mental health initiatives
- Is unavoidable
Kylie’s argument was well stated and used both personal experiences and current events as evidence. What stood out to me about her argument was her point on mental health initiatives. After learning about social media’s damaging affects on children’s mental health it was refreshing to hear about all the good that social media has done for mental health. In her argument Kylie stated,
I will not ignore that cyberbullying does exist on social media, but social media offers many foundations and resources that help victims of bullying. Without social media, kids (even adults) would not have known about things like BellLetsTalk day, kids help phone, and pink shirt day.
And she’s definitely got a point here. It usually isn’t until I check my Twitter that I realize what day it is. For instance, did you know that it was Pi Day today? You probably did, but I didn’t at first… awks. Either way, I have social media to thank for keeping me informed!
Online acceptance — whether a kid is interested in an unusual subject that isn’t considered “cool” or is grappling with sexual identity — can validate a marginalized kid. Suicidal teens can even get immediate access to quality support online.
So although the use of social media can lead to mental health problems, it also provides youth with a safe space and access to online support. The same article also states that,
While heavy social media use can isolate kids, a study conducted by Griffith University and the University of Queensland in Australia found that, although American teens have fewer friends than their historical counterparts, they are less lonely than teens in past decades. They report feeling less isolated and have actually become more socially adept, partly due to an increase in technology use.
Interestingly, the blame is being put on “heavy social media use” here and not just social media use in general. This makes more sense to me. Social media is not set up to wreak havoc on children’s lives. Social media is intended to do the exact opposite– enhance life!
So Who’s the Culprit?
What I have learnt from this debate is that social media, when used incorrectly, definitely has the ability to ruin childhood. However, that doesn’t mean that social media is the culprit; rather, the real culprit is actually the incorrect use of social media. Perhaps one might stretch that even further to say that parents are also the culprit. When children aren’t taught how to appropriately use social media in a healthy way, then they will likely end up using it inappropriately, therefor possibly ruining their childhood. It should be parents’ duty to limit their children’s social media usage, however, many parents aren’t aware of the dangers that come with social media so it is difficult to point fingers at them. Until these dangerous become well-known, I will conclude that the culprit is in fact the incorrect use of technology.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Who do you think is the culprit? Let me know by commenting below!