Social media is a primary intergenerational point of contention. From the perspective of parents of school-age children and young adults, it is a platform which sucks up time, energy and emotional investment. For those of us who have grown up with it as a constant in our lives, the frequent warnings from adults can cause defensiveness whenever the topic is discussed. As someone who, like many teens, has a love/hate relationship with social media, I am torn between emphasising the positive and stimulating aspects of these platforms and agreeing with the (very true) sentiment that I am wasting vast quantities of time on it.
As Mrs Power said when we discussed the impact of social media in our school, our online profiles are inherently personal; we post about our lives and interact with online communities based on our passions. It would be both unrealistic and unethical for the school to attempt to access or control pupils’ internet output. Although inhibiting during some situations, this allows distance from our educational environment in this private digital space. However, many problems, such as cyber bullying, translate into the school environment, making social media a problematic issue to engage with.
Mrs Power suggested that checking privacy settings and being aware of your digital footprint helps avoid the most severe of social media slip-ups. Many teenagers are not aware of how far their online impact reaches; in any group of people, everyone is only as secure as the least secure person. Given that 50% of employers conducted social media background checks in 2016, it seems sensible to ensure that you won’t portray a negative image to potential employers (or even universities, given that the internet has been exponentially more integrated into our society in the last few years). Social media is a tool which has allowed contemporary society to connect on a previously unmanageable level, however, like any tool, it can be used for both good and bad, and young people especially should be informed and cautious.