Social Media Isn’t a New ‘Problem’

An AISQ8 student approached us to contribute articles for his teenage handbook. It wasn’t until later that I put 2 & 2 together to realize that he was an MYP 5 student and this handbook was part of his MYP Personal Project. I love it when their projects are unique an relevant.

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer

At first I wasn’t sure what to write and waited until the last minute to start writing. His questions helped guide me and I ended up enjoying reflecting and writing.

Please answer the following questions:

  • What are your personal experiences with bullying during your upbringing/coming of age?
  • Do you find technology a “great escape” to relieve yourself from anxiety and stress?
  • How can information technology cause teenage issues?
  • How can information technology alleviate teenage issues?
  • What is the impact of integrating information technology in school subjects?
  • Should technology be used as a source of education despite its harms?

I was in 7th grade when AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) was released. Social media was basically invented during my teenage years. But no one quite understood its power or how it might affect our well-being. It hadn’t been around long enough for teachers or parents to know that it added a new dynamic to our already complicated teenage lives. Creating fake accounts was easy. Bullying a former friend anonymously wasn’t difficult. And, while I think we knew it was wrong, cyber-bullying wasn’t a topic that was discussed yet. I was not always a nice teenager. And sometimes technology gave me an anonymous alter-ego who struggled to be principled and caring.

I’m not sure the scenario has changed much in the last 20 years. Maybe now people are less concerned with being anonymous and their alter-egos have been replaced by their egos. We have to acknowledge that technology has an important role in our lives. And, it’s not going away anytime soon. We are all on a learning journey to harness the power of technology to make principled contributions to our global society. In order to do this, we need to be able to learn and live with technology. Technology has the potential to enhance teaching and learning and inspire open-mindedness and collaboration. However, this must be taught and practiced and re-enforced. Everything can be harmful if you have too much of it, even water. We must be purposefully balanced with technology in order to support our well-being. Parents and educators are the key to supporting children and teenagers in learning how to be balanced, principled and caring. If we don’t talk about and use technology at home or at school, how will the adults of the future (you!) be able to make principled contributions to our global society?

Technology helps us connect to other people around the world, both local and global. Technology does not tell us how to act; it simply gives us the platform to act. We, the users, are the problem. Not technology. Technology causes issues when we choose to use it to inflict harm on others. Technology alleviates issues when we choose to use it to find like-minded people to support us during our life journey. When we choose to use technology to disconnect from our lives and numb our feelings, it can actually increase our anxiety and stress. When we choose to use technology to support our productivity, enhance our learning, communicate and collaborate with others, and stay in touch with family and friends, it can help us experience life deeper.  

Technology is powerful. What type of power it has in our lives is up to us. What choices will you make to positively impact the world? How might your IB education support you when learning and living with technology? What choices will you make to bring others up, instead of taking them down?

 

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