Do you remember the days when everyone was nervous about posting baby pictures online? Parents were warning the new generation of parents not to post photos on social media of their new kids. But with technology running rampant these days, people are posting whatever they like. As I’ve gotten older I see more and more of my friends posting pictures of their adorable offspring. I’m scrolling through Facebook thinking: have they forgotten these warnings?
Parents had good reasons to heed warnings. The latest news reports of digital kidnapping, wherein people will repost a child’s pictures online and create new identities for them and claim the photos as their own, sound terrifying, right? Melanie, a young Torontonian mom, says that her mother was ‘concerned’ about posting photos. Though she loves receiving photos of her granddaughter, she worries, as people see photos and are quick to think of the worst possible scenario.
Melanie said that while she was pregnant, she didn’t want to post pictures because she was worried what others would think. After her daughter, ELSA, was born, she said she was so overwhelmed with love and joy she wanted to share with the world what had given her so much love. She says, “I don’t limit how many photos I put up of ELSA. It just depends on what I’m doing that day with her and if it’s worth posting at the time.”
In a world of smartphones and tablets, it’s pretty hard to keep children away from the internet. Many parents still go for the veto approach, but there are also parents who are trying to find a balance when it comes to allowing their little ones into social media. Targeting the growing number of more experimental fathers and mothers, a series of applications and websites are popping up with the same concept: internet can be fun and safe.
With most parents concerned with their children using social media, usually articles will pop up about how to keep them safe while on social media. There are also numerous articles about how to become InstaFamous and make money by using social media to develop your brand. However, there are also children who are trying to make a difference using social media. Huffington Post reports that half of the teens who use social media feel as though they now understand what other people are experiencing. 68% of them say the benefits of these social media outweigh any of the risks.
Social media has also changed the way charities will fundraise. 95% of charities have a Facebook page and 83% have Twitter. It’s known that 55% of people who engage with these organizations on social media will donate towards the cause. This is a great and effective tool for boosting revenue and awareness. Children in this generation understand the importance of social media and are well equipped to make use of all the apps at their disposal. There are so many different ways to connect with people to spread positive messages.
One’s relationship with social media is just that: a relationship. Be it friendship or love affair, each one plays an important role in how we, in this brave new world of technology, navigate our careers and personal lives. The closer you get with each platform, the deeper your understanding of its personality.
Facebook is your sweet, supportive, long-term boyfriend. Creating an account is love at first sight. Before you know it you two are gossiping almost every night, being invited to events, and sharing intimate personal details. Facebook doesn’t even mind if you creep your ex-boyfriend and gawk at his tacky wedding photos and babies that – yep! – inherited his oddly shaped skull. Facebook is confident and easy-going. He makes the act of giving and receiving love as easy as the click of a button. He understands that sometimes you’re busy, and he never holds a grudge – he’s more than happy to catch you up over the weekend. He gives you plenty of attention when you change your hairstyle, and he never forgets your birthday.
Twitter on the other hand, is the classic bad-boy. You flirt with him every once in a while, but it doesn’t turn into something right away. His hashtags are too cool and you don’t quite understand them. They’re jarring and political, hip and often ill-informed. However, there’s still an attraction there. All it takes is being paired together on a school project and something starts to click. As you spend more time together you slowly start experimenting with hashtags. You find they’re actually quite enlightening. After some digging you find he has stances on politics that really align with yours. You start bringing things up Twitter has said in every conversation and suddenly it’s “hashtag this” and hashtag that.”
Then you go away for a few days – you’ve earned some time off. You come back to Twitter happy and refreshed to find: nothing. Silence. No notifications, no messages, nothing. He gives you the cold shoulder for a day or two until you can ease back into a routine together. He holds a grudge if you ignore him, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with how needy he can be. While trying to stay on top of his ever-changing trends and you start to think, “maybe we should just be friends and only see each other on special occasions.” But then in a lovely and surprising gesture he puts you in touch with your favourite author, (he knows how much her first book meant to you) and you just can’t let go of this complicated, fickle, misunderstood man. Read more >>
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I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media, and that we create an online world which reality can no longer meet. My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.
—Zilla van den Born
I read an article on a Dutch woman named Zilla van den Born who “travelled” to East Asia. The interesting thing is that she never left the Netherlands. She told all her friends and family that she was vacationing in Asia. Through social media she kept in touch with everyone by posting pictures of her travels. She posted pictures of her visiting temples and eating the traditional East Asian cuisine that she cooked in her home and even photo-shopped herself in the waters of Thailand.
She Skyped her family, making a room in her apartment with Laos as a backdrop. Her goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality, saying “everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”
What can we learn from this story?
I believe that we should not always believe what we see in social media. So many people post things on social media to make their life seem more interesting. For example Photoshopping their bodies next to celebrities. Or posting pictures with family and friends to give the impression that they are living a great life.
Children will grow up approaching the concept of death differently than the previous generation did thanks to social media.
Between the ages of 6 and 10, children begin to think through and accepting the “finality of death”. Children typically start to form an understanding of death after seeing dead bugs, dead leaves, or, more tragically, after a loved one has died.
However, at first, children have a difficult time understanding that things can physically leave and do not come back. It is, therefore, better if children are told where someone is rather than what has happened to them. When a five-year old asks where someone is who has died, he/she might be satisfied to hear someone who died is now located in the cemetery. Carolyn S. Wilken Ph.D. writes: “Children need physical, tangible ways to experience and express grief. Rituals such as visitations, funerals, and memorial services are very important”. For children, a real and literal way of viewing death assists them in understanding what has become of the person.
Today, it is not abnormal, considering the 200,000 Facebook users who die each year, for friends and family to flock to the deceased’s social webpage to pay their respects. In fact, a recently created Facebook application allows an individual to make a video or text message that will be published after they die. But where does Facebook fit in as part of that important ritual for children? Where is this tangible reminder of death and all of its finality?
Media offers a world of entertainment and learning possibilities for children and youth. The kidsmediacentre explores kids' media futures and is committed to supporting cross-platform content producers in Canada to ensure the kids' media industry is vibrant, indigenous and committed to the healthy growth of children.