How many times do we hear parents say, “My kids love playing with the box more than that toy!” I have fond memories of using boxes to create a fort or a car or pretty much anything I wanted. I loved using my imagination and turning the “ordinary” into the extraordinary – or at least what I thought was extraordinary!
As I sit and reflect on the debate, Is Social media is ruining childhood, from this week, I can’t help but remember all the ways I loved to play and explore as a child.
There is something about a cardboard box and a child’s imagination that is magical. If you haven’t read “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis and you have kids, do it! Do it now! It’s a great story to read with kids and ignite some creativity and imagination. At some point each year, I have some boxes available for my students during centre time and they get to imagine, create and play. After all a box is just a box until it’s not a box!
Photo creadit: Amazon
This week our debaters Amy, Logan, and Carter vs. Ellen and Elizabeth did a great job bringing forward arguments and resources for both sides to the debate. So, is social media ruining childhood? Is the box really just a box now, because there is no one left to play with it as we all sit on our devices trolling social media?
There are many harmful ways social media is affecting children today. Many children have been endured online abuse and are victims of cyberbullying. There is also an increase in
mental health issues in children because of stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation caused by social media use. There is research that suggests social media is changing the way we communicate and a focus on quantity instead of quality when it comes to what is being posted.What will happen if children continue to use social media and continue down this damaging path? I believe a lot more harmful affects will occur UNLESS teachers and parents step in.
Elizabeth said it well in her blog post:
However, the more I study social media, the more I read about it, and the more I see it in the schools, I begin to understand that perhaps the best way to protect our kids is, in fact, presenting them with what exists. Showing them the world, focusing on the good but not hiding them from the bad. This is the new childhood; I need to embrace it to use it advantageously for our students.
We need to encourage children to have a balanced childhood where they can enjoy playing outdoors with friends and improve their social skills, but also learn about and enjoy technology. I agree with Anthony’s article that parents and teachers need to educate children about outside influences and, “give them a little freedom to be their own person and reign them in if they are trying to be too much too soon“.
Social Media has many benefits for our youth today. I like hearing realistic suggestions and reason and I found Sheenan’s “5 Reasons Why Social Media Might Actually Be Good for your Child” to be a quick read that was down to earth and realistic. His five reasons were as follows: allows children to keep up with friends, collaborate with school mates, discover new interests, get prepared for the future, and get creative. He also reminds us that children need a coach and mentor and shouldn’t be working alone on social media. That is when the problems arise.
Randi Zuckerberg has a lot of great points in her article “Childhood Isn’t What it Used to Be” The world is constantly changing and evolving, which is great… it’s what we want to happen. For change, positive change. Randi speaks about our children now living in three worlds:
“the real world, the imaginary world, and now, more increasingly, the virtual/mobile screen world. When used mindfully and sparingly, this third world can add a whole new dimension of creativity, education, and delight. But when used mindlessly or as a default, we run the risk of this new virtual world creeping into the time kids would have spent using their own imagination and creativity.”
So what becomes of the magical box? Social media provides a way to stay connected to family members, to learn and grow, and to explore new concepts and ideas. As long as we use it with guidance and in moderation, so that we can still have time for making something out of nothing, I think childhood is going to not only survive but continue to thrive in our technology driven lives.