There has been a lot of chatter lately about the negative impact social media is having on our children, especially in the wake of the explosion of Squid Games. After I read a really interesting article on the reasons why Netflix’s recent breakout hit was problematic for children, it got me thinking. Adding to this, the extra pressures Facebook/Instagram has come under recently over how damaging its algorithm is toward young minds and the lack of protection it offers. This week on the blog, I share my thoughts on why I don’t blame social media and why I think people need to take much bigger responsibility for their own social media usage, of course that includes me. Read along and let me know if you agree with my points.
Not that I need a disclaimer, but I’ll start by saying, I am fully aware that I am of the generation which was lucky enough to have lived a full childhood outdoors, before computer/video games and the internet was a staple in every household. It might make me sound ancient, but I kinda like it- I feel like it gives me a unique perspective. That being said when Facebook first came out, I was genuinely one of the 1st people on the platform, but my Facebook use then is most definitely NOT my Facebook usage now. If I were to look back at some of the things I posted, they were ridiculous and some very cringy, they were posted by- and with my own consent. Also, completely oblivious of just how impactful social media as a whole would be on our lives. I also, have 1 child not that it makes it any easier in any way, but it’s much more straightforward to keep track of her internet usage than if I had multiples. Saying that, I was equally as shocked that my recently eight year old knew about Squid Games or had heard about it in some capacity and had the presence of mind to tell me, “Oh yes, I’ve heard of it, but it’s completely inappropriate for children so I’m not interested.” 👀👀👀👀 #jawmetfloor
Social media is more about sociology and psychology than it is about technology.Brian Solis
My issue with it all, is just how easily we choose to absolve ourselves from any of the blame, we say social media is the issue, but we forget we are the social part of that equation. Yes, it’s a computer with an algorithm and yes, it can target you based on your likes, but we are the ones feeding the machine. We control our usage, we control just how much of our information we are choosing to openly or otherwise post. It almost makes us feel good about ourselves if we can sit back and point fingers at a program that essentially for the most part, shows us the worst parts of ourselves and of society. Because we are society. We could easily blame the Instagram culture, we could always blame social media, because it’s literally the EASIEST thing to do, but at the end of the day, it is a means to an end. Did we always compare ourselves to others, 100%, did we always judge and make assumptions about people and their behaviours? Ummm, yes. Social media, just centred its location, found a way to profit off our insecurities and now beat us as our game and perpetuate into the cycle. But, we are still the same, both socially and emotionally as we were before social media, it’s just become a much, much bigger machine and can definitely inflate the issues we already felt we had. We simply now have millions of people to choose from and a limitless number of ways in which this information can get to us.
Don’t use social media to impress people, use it to impact people.Dave Willis
If you believe social media is toxic and prefer to keep yourself away, so be it, but don’t crap on people who use it. I think it’s all about context and intent. There are people doing some great work on the internet, be it for body positivity and mental health. I have learnt a great deal from some very resourceful sites, I have come across wonderful books which I have added to my library. But, I have chosen to curate my accounts and I choose not to interact with accounts which do not bring or feed joy or useful, uplifting information into my life. That was a calculated choice on my part and I do not regret it. We all have different tastes and there is literally something for everyone. We all did silly to stupid things in our youth, the vast difference is that it’s not being advertised and it wasn’t plastered all over so strangers could see, but we survived. And if it means that today’s social media stars will have to learn from some of their past decisions ( they may never be able to delete it ), but it is still a lesson nonetheless. We learnt lessons our parents never had to face and we’re still standing. From a parenting perspective, it’s your responsibility to set clear, rules/boundaries over online use and a misuse of the rules will have to have consequences, because the alternative could be costly. We have to take a vested interest in what they are consuming, do not let a screen raise your child and instill its own values. If they pick up things from something they have watched and it goes unaddressed, then what do you have to complain about? Their minds are young, malleable and it is for us to explain certain things, even if we don’t quite understand it, the consequences can still be very real. All that to say, I believe we need to take a look at ourselves and the mess that social media has become and ask ourselves what are we doing to clean it up? What responsibility do we have with the data we consume, share or create? What is our ultimate goal with it all and is it encouraging or discouraging, because people are watching.