Debate #2 and it was my turn in the hot seat with Valeska, taking the agree stance on the statement, “Social media is ruining childhood.” Initially, I found it difficult to agree with the statement because I fundamentally believe that social media has both positive and negative effects on children, and do not point the finger at social media for the alleged “ruining” of the youth. However, after doing some research, and respectfully listening to the points made by Brendon and Brittany, I found myself disagreeing with my arguments even more.
On one side of the debate, we argued that social media is destroying an entire generation of kids. Studies that suggest that social media is leading to increased levels of depression, anxiety, and poor sleep quality among children. Researchers suggest that the constant stimulation of social media may interfere with sleep patterns, leading to poorer quality sleep. Arguments can be made that social media is leading to cyberbullying, which can have devastating effects on children’s mental health, including feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, and suicidal ideation. In fact, eviemagazine.com cites the increasing rates of suicide and depression as evidence that social media is ruining childhood.
Charmaraman, Lynch, Richer, and Grossman (2022), through their research on age of social media initiation and risky behaviours, supported our stance on the question. Four items from their writing jumped out at me.
- Childhood initiators of social media are more vulnerable during this transitional period between late elementary school and early middle school and demonstrate more problematic digital behaviors and relationships than their older counterparts.
- There is a relationship between early digital technology use and susceptibility to risky and addictive online behaviors.
- Childhood initiators who frequently checked social media reported the highest rates of online harassment of any group.
- Childhood initiators were significantly more likely to engage in secretive online behaviors that they kept hidden from their parents.
On the other side of the debate, it was argued that social media is not necessarily ruining childhood, but rather, it is the way in which children use social media that can be detrimental to their well-being. They point to studies that suggest that social media can have positive effects on children’s development, including increased socialization and opportunities for self-expression. A study published in the North Carolina Medical Journal (2020) found that social media can provide a sense of belonging and support for children who may feel isolated or marginalized.
In addition, opponents argue that social media can be a valuable tool for education and learning.
Eva Amin‘s TED-Ed highlights the benefits of using social media in the classroom, including the ability to connect with experts and collaborate with peers. The online community also provides young people of similar interests to interact with each other. When I think of Saskatchewan, particularly the rural areas, this may give kids a chance to make meaningful connections that, because of distance, they may not normally have the chance to do physically.
It is important to note that social media is not inherently bad or good. It is a tool that can be used in a positive or negative way, depending on how it is used. As a society, we need to take responsibility for teaching children how to use social media in a safe and responsible way – this, right here, is something that I can agree with wholeheartedly.
One way to do this is to promote digital literacy education in schools. By teaching children about online safety, responsible social media use, and critical thinking skills, we can help children make informed decisions about how they use social media. Another way to promote responsible social media use is to encourage parents to take an active role in their children’s online activities. Parents can monitor their children’s social media use, set limits on screen time, and engage in open and honest conversations with their children about online safety. Where this may get muddy is that the generation of digital residents is being parented by digital visitors. Parents are playing catch up trying to figure out what exactly the youth are doing online. Consequences, intended or unintended, immediate or long-term, are another area that young people may not take into consideration, nor do their parents have a real grasp on. Yet.
This debate on whether social media is ruining childhood is complex and many-sided. While there is evidence to support both sides of the argument, it is important to recognize that social media can have both positive and negative effects on children’s development. Rather than demonizing social media altogether, we should focus on educating children on how to use social media responsibly and safely. By doing so, we can help children reap the benefits of social media while minimizing its potential harms.
This debate was interesting for me as I was not really 100% morally onboard with my side of the argument. I do think that I was able to see that perspective, but in the end I actually voted against my own points. Now I understand what my son is going through when he and I get into a disagreement!
2 thoughts on “Arguing With Myself”
Hi Bart, great post! I can understand how you ended up voting against yourself in this debate. I completely agree with your statement, “It is important to note that social media is not inherently bad or good. It is a tool that can be used in a positive or negative way, depending on how it is used.” It is difficult for me to get upset with my daughter when she struggles with using her phone responsibly. So many adults have trouble too, how can we be upset with our kids?????
First off, I want to thank you and Valeska for making our debate an enjoyable experience.
Your blog post highlights the complexity of the issue and the importance of recognizing both the positive and negative effects of social media on children’s development. This was a dilemma I found myself in as well, working on the debate arguing this topic.
I agree that social media is a tool that can be used in a positive or negative way, depending on how it is used. It is crucial for parents and educators to teach children about responsible social media use, online safety, and critical thinking skills. Digital literacy education in schools can be a valuable tool in promoting responsible social media use, and parents can play an active role in monitoring their children’s online activities.
Overall, I think we have a similar feeling about the topic of our debate, even though w debated against each other. Iappreciate your thoughtful and balanced approach to this complex issue. It is essential to recognize the potential benefits and harms of social media use among children and to take steps to promote responsible and safe social media use.