Media and Technology: Too Much of a Good Thing?

October 23, 2023 1 By Stephanie Voss

Participation in technology and media has evolved a substantial amount during the just over two decades that I have been alive. During my pre-teen/teen years I saw and participated in the beginning of social media and posting aspects of your life online. When apps like Instagram were first introduced, posting felt very casual. You could post pictures of your coffee or your cat without worrying about how many likes you would get or how it would impact your feed’s “vibe.” As time passed and my friends and I started high school, posting on Instagram became more formal and calculated. The amount of views/likes you got became a BIG deal. It became a way to receive self-validation that you are “enough.” It was also a way to compare yourself to others, which can have negative effects on teen’s developing self esteem. (It definitely had a negative effect on my own self-esteem at times)

This is why I now feel that we can have “too much of a good thing” when it comes to participation and sharing in the digital world, especially for teens who are at crucial points of self-discovery and development. According to the article Teens, Social Media, and Technology 2022 written by Emily A. Vogels, Risa Gelles-Watnick and Navid Massarat, “when asked how they feel about the time they spend on social media, 53% of teens who almost constantly use at least one of the platforms say they are on social media too much” (Massarat et. al, 2022). To me, this is a scary statistic. Over half of teens realize that constantly spending time on social media platforms is harmful, yet continue to do it. 

I wonder if the new generations of teens who acknowledge that the amount of time they spend on social media is harmful could facilitate a change in the way we participate in media and technology. We have so many tools at the tips of our fingers – could we use them to change the world for the better? Is social media really the best use of our time? The Youtube Video titled “An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube” posted by Michael Wesch, states that participation in media is “a celebration of new forms of empowerment.” he expresses that “everyone with a webcam now has a voice” and “when medias change, human relationships change.” (Wesch, 2008). As participation in media brings humans all over the world together, I bet amazing things could happen if we shift the “how” and “why” we are using it.

Participation in technology can be amazing in the classroom. I have watched levels of engagement and creativity in students often rise when technology is used in a positive manner. Digital citizenship is a topic that I believe is crucial to cover in the classroom, starting as young as first grade. Learning from a young age the proper etiquette for using/consuming media and the digital footprint that this media creates is a way to ensure our students are good digital citizens. I would connect digital citizenship  to social-emotional learning. As so much of our communication with other humans is virtual, it is crucial that young people know how to communicate kindly in person and through the media. Technology has many great uses in the classroom, but this does not mean that we as educators should overlook the negatives that can come from improper use.