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  • Writer's pictureEmily Del-Grande

Social media: The breakdown in understanding. Adults Vs Children

I was recently on a boat crossing Lake Köycegiz and heading up the Dalyan river, admiring the lush green hills, the quaint riverside cafes, a beautiful and peaceful view.

Then I noticed the teens on the next boat. They were taking endless selfies of one another in different poses- laid on the deck 'sunbathing' then jumping up to snatch the phone back and assess the photo.... sat looking 'wistfully' at the view then having to re-pose because the wind blew a strand of hair across their face interrupting the deep look they were trying to achieve. The most unnatural photos designed to look so natural, conveying an image of appreciating this beautiful setting when in reality they hadn't looked up long enough to notice it. For a brief second I considered if the sadness I was feeling was more to do with them going home with nice photos whereas I was going home with the usual Wallace and Gromit look photos?



I had a word with myself, noticing my own two children were showing as little interest to the scenery in front of us and decided it's an age thing... that just as I did, one day they will probably develop an appreciation for colours, nature and lakeside bars ; )


But back to my little Instagramers on the other boat who by this time had moved to the top deck and were using the breeze to their full advantage.


Where did this all start? At what point did children start to use a tool that was primarily designed to capture a memory, a feeling, a precious moment, a thought... and instead create an adapted, dare I say... false memory? I would imagine around the time social media began to boom.



I think it is common for people of my generation to feel a little negative towards the impact of social media when they see things like this, it is so different to what we grew up with back in 'the good old days!'


But for those of us working with young people, I think it is vital that we try to understand it more and I don't mean just the negative, afterall, social media is a big part of our children's lives and that is not going to change anytime soon.


The New York Times published an article with children's views after asking them 'What don't adults understand about teenage life online?' And it is clear reading through all those children's thoughts that perhaps they are a lot more clued up than what we give them credit for. They have some good points too! https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/27/learning/what-teenagers-want-adults-to-understand-about-their-liv


The younger generation may tell us that social media is all about connecting, meeting new people, keeping in touch with old friends. One could argue it causes more disconnection when you see people ignoring each other to spend time on their phone. Is our job to criticise that or to offer opportunity for connection elsewhere?

They may tell us it makes them feel good to post, to share ideas, to be an individual discovering themself and have others encourage this. We might argue that self-worth should not be measured by likes, followers or red hearts. Again, we could criticise this way of being or we could psycho educate them to alternative ways of feeling good about themselves.


Because when you ask children what they need from us as adults in a world driven by social media, they want us to offer a solution to a problem they cannot explain. And perhaps the solution is much more about us using our skills to be supportive rather than being critical of the world they live in?


 

Whilst you won't be seeing any staged photos of me appearing on Instagram anytime soon, I couldn't write a blog like this without including at least one of my unfiltered, un-posed photos from the day so I chose one of me looking fabulous at some mud baths. Afterall, practice what you preach!



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