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Using digital technologies and social media for good

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Started by Tessa Gray 31 Jul 2019 5:37pm () Replies (2)

The Project As parents and educators, we want our young people to be innovators and change agents - empowered to make a positive difference in the world they live in. But what happens if our young people are increasingly being exposed to negative social behaviours (via social media) that follow a ‘pack mentality’ aggressively online? Where does that leave us as a society?

As luck would have it, The Project (Tuesday night 30 July, 2019) interviewed Jonathan Haidt (Social Psychologist from America) who talked about the age of outrage. He talked about how humans have evolved into moral, social, co-operative creatures, but are also good at fighting. Social media comes along and we’re especially good at 'turning up' the aggression online.

“You can get all moralistic on social media, you can judge people and you punish them and there is no forgiveness, there’s no forgetting there’s no mercy. So it’s really turning our democracies dysfunctional and savage. The net effect is a real shift in the balance from openness and co-operation to defensiveness and outrage.” The Project

Jonathan suggests we need to stop calling out and uniting against the enemy, and instead our face our challenges with understanding, forgiveness - in a more positive way. Richard Culatta says, we can also teach our young people about successful digital citizenship practices of using technology to:

  • make our community better
  • respectfully engage with people who have different beliefs from ours
  • shape and change public policy
  • recognise the validity of online sources of information. (Kirirarautanga | Citizenship)

1. We can share examples of how communities come together to influence change for good, like Alexia Hilbertidou who started Girl Boss NZ at just 18yrs, and Sam Johnson who used Facebook to help victims of the Christchurch earthquake, and we can also be very explicit about teaching our young people to:

  • Facebookfind a balance between their online and offline life
  • dismiss exclusive behaviours online
  • ignore the plight for the prefect body, perfect life
  • understand and embrace differences, diversities and the marginalised
  • become more media savvy and literate and understand how their online persona is easily influenced by algorithms and external influencers (false advertising, propaganda)
  • create opportunities to respond to challenges and mobilise ‘the tribe’ for good

2. We can create opportunities for students to think about looming issues on the horizon by encouraging them to respond proactively, collectively to local and real-world sustainable issues using a variety of technologies. For example, students from Frankley School (New Plymouth) have created an app to tackle bullying. Find out more in App Development.

Humanity cards

3. We can share these insights with our parents and whānau, so the responsibility is shared beyond the school gate. Maybe then, we can change the growing statistics that social media negatively effects the mental wellbeing (anxiety and depression) of our young people. In a diverse, multi-ethnic society like ours, how we can we all support our young people, to tone-down the negative, aggressive ‘tribalistic behaviours online and use social media for good?

What stories shock or startle you on TV, in the media and online? How does this concern you?

On a more positive note, what examples can you share that demonstrate our young people using social media or technologies for good? We’d love to hear more.

Also see:

Image sources: The Project, CCO: wikipedia: Facebook

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Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the classroom - Connecting school to the wider community with and about technologies.