My teacher Nabil
Youth and social media
- You tell your children that they can go on Facebook if you can monitor, but later you find out you’ve only been allowed to see a dummy account. You set the password and they change it. You ban them from Facebook so they spend all their time on Tumblr, and once you finally figure out what Tumblr is they switch to another social media site. Keeping up with your child’s internet use can feel as futile as chasing the elusive White Rabbit across Wonderland. Says Dr Katie Davis, University of Washington Information School Assistant Professor in her research about youth and social media.
- Parents can relax and stop worrying that their child has fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole. Her research has found that young people’s use of digital media isn’t all bad. It might actually be helping teenagers to reach developmental milestones, such as fostering a sense of belonging and sharing personal problems. She calls this ‘Friendship 2.0’. “What they are doing is different from generations of teenagers from before the digital era, but it comes from the same place of basic developmental needs,” Dr Davis said. “It’s just that they’re using different tools to satisfy these needs.”
- “It is challenging for parents to keep up,” Dr Davis said. “It is hard to strike that balance between being vigilant with what children are doing online and making sure they are safe and allowing them room to grow and respecting their privacy because it is totally an open digital world.”
- At Harvard University Dr Davis asked a group of freshmen to draw a pie chart of what they did all day. The results were startling. The internet took up a huge chunk of their time. One 17-year-old student, Emma , reported “Facebook is just like an addiction, I guess, like it’s hard, like if I don’t go on, I feel like I am missing something, like someone has written on my wall, and I can’t wait to see what they are saying.”
- “Across the board once they looked at how much time they spent online or on their cell phone, they couldn’t believe it,” said Dr Davis. “Those little moments of opening your e-mail or Facebook during the day add up very quickly. Although there is a lot of learning to have online, they often felt like they were wasting their time. They found it hard to find that balance. It takes a lot of discipline for young people which is hard because they are still developing that ability to show restraint and discretion.”
- Dr Davis said open communication between parents and children was really the key, as was setting ground rules for internet use. «I think that if you start with that base of good communication with children, even if they do go online without you, at least you can feel they are communicating with you openly about what they are doing. There is also a lot to be said for parents being good role models themselves. They themselves have to model proper online behaviour. They can do this by not using their own cell phones too much or posting inappropriate content on their Facebook page. They can model balanced lifestyles and respectful conduct online.”
Originally published at www.myteachernabil.com on August 29, 2015.