At What Age Should We Start Engaging With Social Media?

 

Following on from the previous post, Olly and I thought it would be good to discuss at what age is it appropriate to engage with social media.

Oliver Campey writes his thoughts below.

A study back in 2014 conducted by Dr Richard Woolfsen and knowthenet.com highlighted that more than half of children had used social media by the age of 10. The report also found that 43% of these children had messaged strangers or engaged with negative comments by the age of 12.

The cynic amongst us may question the validity of the report or condemn certain elements in terms of how easy they are to measure. However, the fact does remain that children are engaging with social media at an increasingly younger age and it needs to be investigated as to whether this is safe.

Firstly, one the foundations of adopting any form of new technology or service is having an education on how best to use it. It’s a fact that when looking into the syllabus for younger age groups children are not educated by this stage on the positive and negative effects of social media. Personally, I think this needs to change. I wouldn’t say there’s an issue with the age that children are interacting with social media because as a generation we are adapting to new technologies at an earlier age than ever before. However, what does need addressing is providing children with an education from a young age so that they have a greater understanding of how to appropriately engage with social media.

Secondly, there needs to be further research into the negative effects of dopamine on the human brain and the formation of an addiction to likes and positive engagement across social platforms. As discussed in the previous post dopamine can be triggered by things such as gambling, alcohol, and smoking all of which are regulated and carry age restrictions of 18 or above. As highlighted by AdWeek, social media channels generally enforce an age restriction of 13+ and so there could be an argument to bring it more in line with the age restrictions for smoking, gambling, and alcohol.

Thirdly, social media is having a hugely negative impact on the younger generations ability to socialise and form meaningful relationships with their friends. Only yesterday was I sat in a cafe and I witnessed a group of friends all sat on their phones and not conversing with one another. To make things worse, when one of the group did spark up some form of a conversation, the others responded with a nod of the head or a mumbled grunt and continued flicking through their phones.

What kind of message does that send out to the person who initiated the conversation? It’s essentially saying, you’re not interesting enough for me to listen. I agree with Nat that we need to ensure that from a young age people are connected and have the ability to consume information whenever they need it. It’s common knowledge that teenagers are spending more time on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo to learn new skills and acquire new information.

I just think their needs to be a greater level of education on the safe and effective use of social media across the school system and for parents. A report by the NSPCC found that “More than half of parents are unaware of the age limit on Social Media”, this means they aren’t making well-informed decisions when allowing their children to roam free across social channels. If more work is done to provide children with a better education, it will eradicate so-called ‘social bad habits’ and allow us to become better communicators both professionally and personally.

Check out Nat’s vlog below for a greater level of insight into this topic!

Love on social media

In this new age of social media, can relationships be what they used to be? Can you love someone unconditionally without showing the world how much you love someone? Of course you can but there are people who choose to document their relationship online for the whole world to see?

Getting more “likes” or more “views” or simply just more engagement has become far more important to people than many other meaningful things that we could label as meaningful only a few years ago. We are now seeing people share the most intimate part of their lives as a show to gain an audience and a following to ultimately gain a more monetary status. This is more than a reality TV show, this is reacting to people, demanding to see the ins and outs of the life you live.

But is this really a meaningful relationship? Is sharing every facet of your life keeping your relationship together? If it is… Is that true love?

Trends and social stigmas

We’re living in a life full of trends and what I like to call “the new age of peer pressure.” We’re now more so than ever trying to fit in with our social crowd and doing things that we would have never thought about doing five, ten or even fifteen years ago.

Let’s look at tattoos, gluten free or even veganism and try and understand how and why these have become social trends. Yes, people are educating themselves and become more “open” about such things but people are also seeking a way to become a part of a social setting that where they can “fit in.” With the rise of social and digital media, information is much easier to grasp that in the 90s and we’re being taught or some may say “brainwashed” into following trends unconsciously.

But maybe there’s a point to that…

Living in a Digital Circle

Everyone has the right to experience the natural wonders of the world. Although not everybody has the necessary tools or opportunities to do so, they still have the right.

We, as humans have the ability to grant that right to anybody and we do. Through the eyes of social media, we can bring the amazing waterfalls of Foz do Iguaçu to a young Bangladeshi girl that may never get to witness it in person… But why doesn’t everybody also have the right to classified government documents or to be in the board room discussing the next player that the New England Patriots want to sign?

Don’t we all have the right to be a part of what the world produces… We are part of this world and what we produce is a sub element of Earth… Is it not?

Non-verbal communication has taken over

We do not need to communicate verbally anymore. We are living in an age of technology innovations where the need to interact with someone with speech has disappeared. With messaging based apps on the rise and the comfort of expressing your mind over a screen rather than face to face takes over, verbal communication will continue to dwindle.

The future will host a world of virtual reality and augmented reality taking non-verbal communication that much further.

Can we learn from Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is popular because it contains a wealth of information made for people by people that for the most part consists of correct material.

However, there are many people who don’t believe in the power of Wikipedia and do not accept it as a format of knowledge.

Just because everyone and anyone can publish on Wikipedia even if they’re not a well-known journalist, even if they’re not a New York Times best seller or even if they’re not a published academic does not mean that their points are invalid or untrue.

But what can we learn from this domain and why is it one of the most visited websites in the world?

Are we learning or regurgitating?

I’m on Instagram Live!

Why is it that in the typical school system we group students in ‘intelligence’ categories based on how well they do on a test? Is it correct to put a child in group ‘A’ because they produced a high score due to their ability to remember something that they have been told by their teacher? Is it correct to put a child in group ‘C’ due to their inability to remember something that they have been told by their teacher. Is the child in group ‘A’ more intelligent than the child in group ‘C’? Or are we praising that child because of their commitment to studying?

What is the correct way to measure intelligence? When we think about the amount of media consumption formats that are available to us and the amount we use at once, is it possible anymore to focus on one thing at a time and give that topic your undivided attention? Right now, as I write this article. I have Microsoft word open on my laptop, my work phone which is on the floor buzzes every time I get a message from a colleague on Slack (which is very often). Whatsapp never fails to make me aware when someone wants my attention on my personal phone which is on the sofa to the right of me. My tablet which is also on the sofa but to the left, although currently closed vibrates to let me know when I have a new email and BBC News which is on TV is telling me the latest score updates from the Champions League. I know I have the complete ability to remove all of these distractions to fully focus on writing this piece and will most likely end up with a better article if these distractions were not around but the real question is… Do I want to remove these distractions?

No.

Me, like most young people feel the need to always be connected for better or for worse. Because of this, do we ever get to learn, understand or focus on what we are doing or will we forever remember things what we have heard, read or watched without having used our ability to make decisions for ourselves due to the many media distractions around us.

We may be losing the ability to focus and make decisions on topics for ourselves, resulting to simply relying on our ability to remember and then regurgitate what we’ve heard, read or watched. Does this make us intelligent? Has the influx of media consumptions formats diminished our thinking capabilities?