Debate #5 – Social media is ruining childhood
Again this week, I find this topic very difficult to answer. Both sides of this debate did a great job outlining their stances which made it difficult to pick a side. I believe that social media can impact childhood, but to say it is ruining it is hard for me. I think that if children are not taught the proper way to engage with these platforms or the skills to be critical consumers, it can be detrimental. If the time is put in to ensure kids have these tools in their toolboxes, I think it can positively impact childhood.
Stephen P opened a whole new can of worms with his question or idea that when does the responsibility fall back on the parents for allowing these platforms to consume and ruin childhoods. I believe the exact wording he used is that perhaps “Social Media is Ruining Parenthood.” This coincided with the analogy that was brought up surrounding how we teach our children to swim. We simply do not just toss them in the pool and expect them to know what to do. It is a process where our children are expected to progress through various levels of swimming lessons, learning new skills along the way to eventually be able to swim on their own. I think this is a great way to ensure that our children understand how to use social media. Parents need to work with their kids through a progression of what they are and are not able to do within these platforms. Parents need to demonstrate proper etiquette online and what is acceptable and not so our children know exactly what they should and shouldn’t do. In summary, we, as adults , should be teaching and cautiously supervising our young people while they are present on these platforms and educating them whenever they step out of line online, but also praising them for proper and acceptable etiquette online.
Digital Citizenship/Media Literacies
Teaching our children to be responsible, critical consumers is a significant step in ensuring that these platforms do not ruin their childhood. It is our responsibility as adults to ensure that our children know how to behave online. According to the GoGuardian article, 5 Reasons to Teach Digital Citizenship, “teaching digital citizenship equips students with the knowledge, skills, and resources to succeed as lifetime learners. This also helps them learn to engage within a digital environment with responsibility and confidence to develop as leaders who will leave meaningful impacts in the lives of others.” Within the framework of teaching Digital Citizenship, children will learn: informational literacy, cyberbullying prevention, online safety, digital responsibility, and health & emotional well being in the digital world; each important concept, ensuring proper and safe usage of social media.
Teaching our young people media literacy fundamentals will ensure they are equipped with skills to question, evaluate, understand and appreciate their multimedia culture. It teaches them to become active, engaged media consumers and users.
Social media provides a plethora of opportunities to connect with the world around us. This is one of the main reasons why I believe it is not ruining childhood. This became very evident over the last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we were on lockdown. Social media platforms provided us opportunities to remain connected to our friends and families while remaining safe within our houses. I do not believe that these types of connections are superior to the face to face connections, but can go a long way in maintaining relationships and improving mental well being.
These platforms can also provide opportunities for kids to connect fairly easily with anyone around the world. I think this can be especially beneficial in the classroom. Students today are much more equipped to be able to connect with experts in any field through following or message on social media platforms. Although I am not a child anymore, I have an example of the power of connections through social media. During the beginnings of the pandemic, the University of Texas Longhorns football program ran a virtual coaches clinic through the use of social media. This provided me with the opportunities to connect to many expert coaches virtually where I would otherwise not have the opportunity to do so without traveling down to Austin, Texas!
Debate #6 – Cell phones should be banned in the classroom
Although I was on the disagree side of this debate, I struggle to decide which side I reside on as it seems to change day to day. Some days I feel that they are enhancing learning in the classroom and the next day I want to smash each and every one of these tiny, controlling devices. I often circle back to the notion that they are not going to be going anywhere anytime soon, so I may as well use them as a learning tool. I feel that teachers need to do significant planning, preparation before implementing, cell phones have the ability to improve engagement and they have the ability to improve access to technology.
Preparation, Planning & Implementation
Teachers must undertake a serious amount of planning any preparation when they are trying to implement these devices into their classrooms. The exact purpose for them must be well known and outlined and they cannot be implemented for the novelty of saying that we use technology in our classroom. Understanding who your learners are in your classroom is a critical step in being able to effectively use cell phones in your classroom. You would not use them if the majority of your students do not have access to one. If they do have one, it is beneficial to know what apps your students are already accustomed to using and meet them where they are skill wise.
Another major aspect of this planning and prep work is establishing digital citizenship, media literacy skills as well as specific guidelines and expectations of your students. This cannot be scoffed off as something that can be taught over a few days, but significant time should be implemented in establishing these skills. Use/misuse guidelines need to be well established and enforced to ensure that students know what is acceptable use of cell phones. Many educators have enlisted the use of a contract where all stakeholders are aware of these guidelines and expectations.
These personal devices have the ability to improve overall participation and the flexibility to connect to information in any setting. Cellphones provide flexible and collaborative learning environments and we should work to incorporate these devices into the everyday classrooms. Through the use of cellphones, teachers are able to connect with students both inside and outside of the classroom. They have the ability to promote an increase in student-student as well as student-teacher communication which directly impacts the sense of belonging to a classroom community.
The theme of increased engagement also helped develop the student-teacher partnership that Friere(1970) described as essential in the classroom. Friere also outlines that increased classroom community and stronger partnerships move students to become critical co-investigators alongside the teacher, which cellphones can help facilitate in 21st century education.
Being able to audio and video record lessons, using the camera and accessing the internet or using apps are also ways to improve the engagement of students. Utilizing student’s personal cellphones daily can act as a driver for increased student engagement and hook them into their classroom activities and become a more prominent member of their classroom community. According to Kunnath and Jackson (2019), integrating cellphones into our classroom lessons and activities provides teachers new ways to keep learning interesting and exciting by using a method and tool not usually allowed in class.
As Leona S outlined during our debate, wouldn’t it be fabulous if we had a 1 to 1 ratio of technology in our classrooms – I know that would vastly change the way I teach and my students learn. However, that is not the case and likely won’t be for many more years to come. If accessibility is the concern then let’s start using the tools that we do have to enhance the learning for our students. If cell phones give us a better ratio of students on devices then let’s use this to our advantage. Cell phones are more commonplace than laptops, chances are more families will be willing to provide a cell phone for their child to bring to school rather than a laptop. Cell phones allow for more reliable access to the internet and likely should take up space in our classrooms.
Leona S goes on to outline that many students have easy access to cell phones and WIFI connections at schools and if they are learning remotely they are often willing to use their data plans to access the internet. With increased access to the internet via WIFI or Data students are easily able to access the APP versions of many teaching platforms such as google classroom and google docs. In agreement with Sam Kerry – He states on his YouTube Channel, until every family has access to universal free WIFi and we have 1 to 1 ratios of technology in our classrooms- let’s be wise and use smartphones to fill the gap of connection and enhance learning in our schools.