In today's world we are surrounded by technologies that make our life more engaging, convenient, and spans geographical boundaries never imagined before. As smart phones have expanded down to the reaches of our children, social media has played a big part in how we communicate. I remember the first social media platform I posted on, MySpace. It was a place I could share content that interested me. Videos, pictures, etc would be posted. Social media has come a long way since then. Now, we have shifted more to authentic conversations. What's different, however, is instead of speaking in conversation, we provide multi-modal pieces of content. For example, I have a personal group called "The Mexico Group" in Facebook Messenger. Love the people in this group, really fun bunch. If you were to look chronologically, you would see a mix of text, links, images, video, bitmojis, etc characterizing everything from feelings to discussion topics at the time. It's a great platform to participate in this kind of activity. However, I engage with a couple of people in the group individually in iMessage partially because of convenience, and partially because of features such as FaceTime. Which brings the question, does fragmentation of conversation happen because of the multiple social media avenues we use?
Look at the picture above; this is an old picture taken back in 2012. At the time, Emily and Aiyana were playing Words with Friends, Bailey was playing Temple Run and Amanda was browsing the web. Not much has changed today. Let's take a look to see how each of my girls interact via social media.
This is the part where I feel old. I engage with my daughters regularly via social media but using different platforms for each. Much of this is for convenience for them, but also because certain platforms I am not ready to unleash and engage because of age, digital literacy level, etc.
Below is a video of Bailey, the youngest of the three. She is explaining what platforms she engages with day to day.
As you can see she mostly uses Instagram and Facebook for social media. For conversation, she uses Instagram Direct Messages and iMessage. Next we will hear from Aiyana. Each one of my kids are different. Aiyana is no exception to different. Please excuse her eating habits during the creation of this video.
As you can imagine, things begin to get different with our oldest, Emily. She is 19, going to college, and gaining independence from us. We begin to choose the platform that she most engages in. I think this becomes a pivotal point. Social media changes frequently, and companies come and go. What happens if the platform is different between each of them? How or can we capture those moments we want most?
As you can see Emily engages in Snapchat frequently. Yes, at its core, Snapchat is used to send photos and videos to friends. Your friends can view snaps for up to 10 seconds, and then the snaps disappear. Snapchat is unique in that all photos and videos only last a brief amount of time before they disappear forever, making the app unique in nature, though you can take a screenshot of all the snaps you receive to save them in picture form. You can also save your own snaps before sending them to friends or to your story. This workflow makes it difficult to reflect on the history of conversation. But that might be the point.
As you can see, I engage my kids in what they choose as they get older. It is important to meet them where they are at. I do draw some lines a parent. A good rule of thumb that I remind them of is to not post something unless they are ok with their Grandmother seeing it. I don't allow my younger two at this time to engage in Snapchat. As parents we have made the personal decision to have our kids wait until they get older until they engage in Snapchat.
In education in general, I truly believe in student choice. Digital Literacy and Citizenship is so important though. Keegan Korf (right) is the Lead Teacher for Digital Citizenship for OPS. I love the role that Keegan has in the district, especially as we provide digital access and equity. Having that role in education is a non-negotiable with how technology has influenced the classroom and society in general. Whether you are a parent or an educator, it is important to identify how you can engage your kids or students. This can be crucial in their growth as a digital citizen, as well as your growth. We are all here to be life long learners.
If you would like to see how Omaha Public Schools is approaching Digital Literacy and Citizenship, check out our Transformation Site below.