With the coming of the digital age, more and more people are using electronic devices in their day-to-day lives. Computers, tablets, and phones connected to the Internet allow a wide variety of people to connect with each other and find ways of passing the time. Furthermore, the age at which children are first introduced to the online space is rapidly decreasing. Many kindergarten-aged kids already know how to operate a tablet and play games. In the field of education, this creates a particular dilemma. While the use of modern technology can improve the learning process and make classes more efficient, it is also at the risk of affecting the communication skills of the students. In a situation where the use of phones and tablets is allowed for academic and personal ends, the school board should carefully consider the pros and cons of such an initiative. I would argue that the use of technology and social media in a learning environment can benefit the children and teachers. Social media can facilitate communication between children and help them establish bonds outside their class.
The effects of new technology on the interpersonal relationships of children are complex. The major benefit its use has is that it creates a big social space and promotes communication. Social media is a great place for children to talk about their interests and find like-minded people. The ability to find and create communities that fit one’s interests are liberating and provides individuals with an opportunity to explore their passions. Social media also gives teens a sense of separation from an authority, a place where they can express themselves openly. The use of the internet is also much easier than direct communication, as the need to think quickly and show one’s face is eliminated. This gives many reserved individuals an opportunity to learn about others and participate in social activities. As stated by the Liz Morrison (2015) therapy website, “Social media is one way that those with social anxieties, who might possibly be isolated otherwise, make friends”. In regards to in-school relationships between children, social media allows children to create chatrooms for their class/school, and interact with students they might have never met otherwise. The Internet expands a child’s social circle and can improve the relationships between individuals, leading to a healthier overall atmosphere. In the context of a teacher-student relationship, it also brings a variety of benefits. If a teacher is available to reach on the web, they can communicate with the students outside of class time to resolve emerging issues. Children can establish a closer relationship with the teachers and ask for help if needed.
On the other hand, social media can be detrimental to the learning experience and its use in school might lead to negative consequences. In my personal experience, social media can be distracting and deflect one’s attention from other activities. The accessibility of varied content and its entertainment value can make children less interested in talking with each other (Morrison, 2015). With the presence of interest-specific communities present on social media, some may see communication with other students as unnecessary. Furthermore, online communication can decrease children’s incentive to interact face-to-face. Real-life conversations might seem bothersome and unnecessary to some people compared with the ease of communication on the world wide web. The use of slang terms, reaction images, and various short-hands for proper grammar can also lead to children not developing the necessary communication skills to talk with others openly. On the topic of student-teacher relationships, the use of technology also has some downsides. Interactions between pupils and their teacher entail a certain balance between authority and trust. A good teacher is a figure the children can both depend on and respect. If a teacher uses social media, their students can perceive them as being on the same level, destabilizing the inherent power dynamics. In this situation, a teacher can stop having the needed influence on their students.
In conclusion, the topic of using social media in a classroom setting is complicated and merits different approaches to its implementation. While leaning towards the benefits of technology, I can recognize that social media can be a major distraction to students and contribute to the degradation of basic social skills. The ability to talk with one another and convey your ideas in an understandable manner is a skill that children desperately need to develop for fitting into society. Unregulated use of the Internet and social media can take the incentive of communication away from students and lead to worse educational outcomes. It can also lead to worsened attention spans, impacting both academic and personal areas of life. Alternatively, the use of social media and tablets can facilitate interaction by introducing individuals to the people and communities they might not have found otherwise. Allowing children to discover their interests and have relative freedom of expression prompts many to expand their social circle. Social media can also be used as a platform for finding friends and talking with others for shy or socially awkward people, who might have difficulties conversing in-person.
Morrison, L. (2015). Take a Look at the Pros and Cons of Social Media for Kids. Web.