When I was a teen, I had friends in my neighborhood as well as at school. We liked to go to the movies, to the mall and, also, meet my friends at the pinball (Do you remember the pinball machines? and play Pac-Man). Some of my friends had bands, others like to surf or skate. There were different groups but, usually, all come together on parties or at fast-food restaurants. It was the ’80s in Lima, Peru. I lived the boom of the movies: ‘Roller Boogie’, ‘Flashdance’ and ‘Breakdance’ and ‘Star Wars’. The mall was the place of encounter, boys and girls flirting on Saturday and Sunday. There were also some regulations created and followed by everybody but never spoken openly about them. As an example, the boys shall request your telephone number, never a girl. But girls could find the boys’ telephone number at the ‘Telephone directories’ (kind of stalkers?). I can still remember some of my friends trying different numbers until they got it! hahaha! Then, unlimited chats on the telephone were a must! Sharing the happenings of the day or the gossips. We didn’t imagine a mobile phone nor a desktop … it was science fiction!.
A teen at home!
I have a teen at home. Her iPhone is the extension of her hand (and an extension of her life). Her IPad is her BFF to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime and her laptop is useful for her homework. She is connected to her friends 24/7, as she has friends in different countries. The geographical space is not a barrier to keep in touch. It’s only their willingness to go ahead with their friendship. How? Social Media: Snapchat for years it’s the number one for most of them. Also, Instagram and later Handouts. Facebook and Twitter are for people over 40’s. I follow her on Instagram but she has a Fistagram and she doesn’t use her Facebook account. But she’s very active in Snapchat and Tumblr. Occasionally, she will check her Instagram.
When I was reading the article of Mary H.K. Choi about ‘Like, flirt, ghost: a journey into the social media lives of teens’. I was thinking about all the details that they were describing and it was a way to talk about it with my daughter. She’s very quiet and likes to be in her bedroom, in her own world ( sometimes I feel hard to be part of it). She also likes so much Watt pad, writing fanfiction and reading it. When we were talking about social media, she was very surprised that I knew more than the average of her friends’ mothers. We talked about fake accounts and the advantage of Snapchat and the 24 hours post, the meaning of the emojis and how they are flirting on Snapchat. She literary told me: ‘Mom! you know that…’ and I felt good.
After watching the video ‘Are you literary what you post’, I was thinking about what they post and who they follow on Tumblr? Once, I have seen the case of a girl that was depressed. Even though the therapy and family support, she didn’t improve. When the family got access by accident to her mobile, they discovered that she was following people that were given her wrong advise and a negative influence that was not helping her to recover. How can we create awareness about what to share and select who to follow? If these are private spaces for teens that we won’t easily get access. Plus, we should trust them. Help them to feel empowered. How are they projecting an image on social media? Are they really conscious about what they are sharing? Because some teens are using media to express themselves, express deep feelings. Is it the correct place? Perhaps, something is not working properly in our families that teens feel that it’s better to share it on Social Media than to us (parents and educators). Or, this is the normal evolution of communication in the era of the internet?
On the other hand, I was wondering about my role as an educator (librarian) and as a parent. How can we guide them to develop a safe use of technology? They are so many cases of addiction to video games and gadgets. I believe it’s a shared responsibility between parents and educator. In fact, a really challenging topic.
As educators, we need to work on media literacy as a part of our classes. Presenting to our students the topics K-12. Learning by using it with responsibility and promoting open discussions to become responsible digital citizens and members of a participatory culture. When I was doing some research about it, I found the post of Jennifer Casa-Todd ‘Using a social media account with your class’ in Edutopia. Casa-Todd proposed the idea of creating a classroom’s account on social media and sharing the responsibility with the students. From choosing what to post to whom to follow. It’s a way to create awareness, responsibility, integrate social media into the teaching practices and being a digital citizen.
As parents, if you search online, you will find tons of articles related to the impact of technology in teenagers and how to deal with it. A big concern is teens developing an addiction to technology. Forbes, published in January this article ‘Why teenagers are so addicted to technology (and what parents can do to help)’ I could find some similarities with what I have experienced as well as my friends that read it. I think that schools shall be working closely with parents to guide them on how to improve their relation parent-children but also helping them to understand the mind of a teenager and their relationship with technology. Not only focus on the negative consequences.