Maybe I’m in the minority. I think we have far more to learn from young people about social media than we could ever dream to teach them with our fancy posters, pamphlets, and didactic lectures disguised as lessons. Kids certainly run into all manner of problems online, and frequently make poor decisions, but the real question should be whether they do it in greater proportions than the 18+ crowd. In the World Cup of Social Media Stupidy we adults win every time. Here’s what I’ve learned about tweeting, Snapchatting, and Instagramming from my middle schoolers over the last few years.
If You Think It’s Dumb, Don’t Do It
Contrary to our perceptions, not all kids and teens are active on social media. Many of them think it’s a complete waste of time, and that’s totally fine. They don’t write arduous, long form, NYTimes pieces on it. They just keep calm and, well, you know.
Just Do It, Don’t Ask How
My students are always less concerned with how a social media space is supposed to be used, and more concerned with using it period. Every innovative use of social media comes from kids, I believe.
Play With Punctuation
Bad spelling, improper grammar, and poor punctuation? Of course children exhibit these in their online sentences. But more frequently than adults? I highly doubt it. The real lessons that most people miss are the interesting and innovative ways youth use symbols and punctuations to innovate language. For instance, one of the more fascinating things to me is the way many teens intentionally leave out punctuation and capitalization altogether to leave messages open-ended.
Rethink What An Image Is
If it exists, it can be an image. If it can’t be an image, does it even exist? Adults think youth are being narcissistic because they wanna snap everything. But, I ask you, how else do you expect to get skilled at using imagery to communicate?
Use Social Media to Have Fun, Not To Prove How Smart You Are All The Time
How often do you look at your timeline and see adults having competitions to prove how smart and clever they are, often in a condescending manner and at the expense of others? I think youth understand that 140 characters does not a deep, intellectual debate make.
Have Fun At All Times