I have a love/hate relationship with social media.
It has been the source of employment, friendship and enabled me to reconnect with family/friends who live out of state and or the country.
It has been a great tool and resource for learning about people, places and things I might not otherwise come across.
I am grateful for all of these things and more but there are moments where it makes me want to scream.
Because it lends itself to group think and the creation/stimulation of echo chambers.
It is a place where it becomes easy to post and or embed stories/videos/infographics that promote misinformation, hate and propaganda.
Sometimes it is done intentionally and sometimes it is a byproduct of what happens, but good intentions sometimes go wrong and we are left to deal with a situation that is different than we had expected or intended.
Don’t misunderstand this to be a call for the abolition of social media because that would be both impossible and ridiculous.
Social media is a tool and the utility of a tool is often based upon the user and how effective/proficient they are in using it.
The good parts of social media far outweigh the bad.
Parenting & The Internet
As a father I think about social media and the Internet in general on a daily basis.
My kids come to me with questions about all of the normal things children have questions about but I am not the sole resource, nor is their mother or people in general.
Good old Siri and Old Doc Google play a big role there and so do the various social media channels they participate in.
My daughter refers to Facebook as Instagram for old people and asks me all sorts of questions about what old people post there and why.
I give the best answers I can and encourage her not to use the Net as her sole source of information. Some of that is because I am trying to teach her how to become an effective researcher and some of it is because it helps me monitor her online activities.
But I never forget that kids imitate what they see their parents and other adults do.But I never forget that kids imitate what they see their parents and other adults do.Click To Tweet
I never forget that when some of my friends engage in debates on Facebook they refuse to believe stories from MSNBC or Fox News because they believe the news is skewed based on political agendas.
Nor do I forget that some of them refuse to accept the validity or truth of something that goes against their personal experiences.
I understand some of that because it is hard to read something that is diametrically opposed to your experience and believe there is truth to it.
But sometimes you need to ask if it is possible that your experience is the outlier, that you are the 1 in a million, that you are part of the 1 percent that has/had a particular experience.
Sometimes you need to read something and not automatically discount it just because you disagree with the political slant.
Raising Critical Thinkers
If I am to raise critical thinkers I have to teach them to be willing to challenge what they hear/read/see as well as to challenge their own thoughts about why they believe as they do.
Sometimes it is easy to discount what you hear and to go based upon what you think you know. Sometimes you are going to be right but sometimes you’ll discover the devil is in the details and you are/were wrong.
The goal is to raise productive and self sufficient members of society. If my children go to college and tell their professors that there are topics they can’t talk about because they aren’t willing to have their opinions and perspective challenged I’ll have failed as a father.
I need them to be willing to stand on their own and to know when to stand with a group.
I tell you this parenting business isn’t for the weak of heart and spirit.