It’s nerve-racking when you get a call from a news station saying they are going to do a piece on social media anxiety and they’d like you to comment. News is all about ratings after all, and to get ratings in our media-saturated world sometimes you gotta go with the sensational. So I figured this would be another depressing piece about how our kids are basically all messed up because of their digital devices. But I was pleasantly surprised to watch this well-balanced segment about well-balanced kids who seem able to be reflective about their tech use.
As best they could in a short amount of time, NBC Nightly News covered a complex topic well and showed us that if you talk to kids about their social media lives they can be amazingly reflective. Conversation and education is key. We all need to educate ourselves and talk about how to use our technology well. This not only includes the topic of social media anxiety and how to balance our tech use, but also how to manage our digital reputations, maintain our privacy, avoid and stop cyberbullying, shut down Internet trolls, understand copyright, fair use, hacking, plagiarism… and this is just the very tip of the iceberg.
Technology is too powerful not to provide some basic guidelines on its use. We owe it to our kids to teach digital literacy in school. Heck, we owe it to ourselves to learn about all this stuff. Which is why we are such advocates for Cyber Civics for kids; and CyberWise for their parents and teachers.
In the piece above one of the young girls says,
“Sometimes I won’t get invited to something and my friends will start posting it on social media and I’ll be upset that I wasn’t invited.”
I’ve heard this same thing from so many kids, and when you are a young, impressionable preteen or teen this is extremely painful. At its very core, social media does have the ability to cause anxiety. But worse, sometimes that anxiety escalates into hurt and pain. Social media expert Sue Scheff , who is no stranger to social media attacks herself, writes a lot about this issue. It’s all over the news too, most recently former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao writes, The Trolls Are Winning the Battle for the Internet. And that's too bad.
We have to find a way to educate adults, who are the role models, and kids who are the future role models. We have a chance now to design the kind of digital future we want to live in. But that door is closing fast.
Thanks NBC Nightly News for opening the door for future conversations about this important issue.