Phipps Files

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Those teens today! October 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sjphipps @ 10:48 PM

As a middle years teacher I am still shocked and amazed that, even today, society continue to blame the “teens of today” with all the terrible problems in the world. I am constantly finding myself defending teenagers at my school, to their parents, and in my community. I know that at times, youth make bad decisions. This is part of learning. Make a bad decision, learn from it and correct it for the next time. This is no different from my generation, that of my parents or grandparents. What I liked about Danah Boyd’s presentation is that she points out that even though teens may be using social media, they are still participating in all the same sorts of things I did, my parents did and my grandparents did. In essence, she states that teens are still more interested in friends than their studies, they gossip, flirt and joke, they hang out etc. In this presentation, Boyd does a great job of demonstrating how teens are the same as they always has been except they are using social media to do most of the typical or normal teen things.

Initially, Boyd points out how social media sites, such as Facebook are mainly about FRIENDS. How does one get friends? The reasons are different for every friend connection. It may be you know the person socially, you are friends with the person, you are in the same community or group or you feel it is rude to say no to someone. Regardless of why you friend people, it is a highly political and sometimes ackward process.  With friending comes this idea of acceptance and belonging. While it may be superficial, it still very much creates the drama of to friend or not to friend. Boyd goes on to describe this as a form of social grooming where there is a social structure based on whether you have friends or not.

grandpa’s friends by deflam, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  deflam 

I would have to agree with Boyd that the decision to friend someone or not is stressful. The difficulty is not whether you ask for permission to be someone’s friends but rather when someone asks you and you don’t know whether to accept or not. In education, we try to instruct the students to be choosy of one’s friends. We give advice like pick people you know, people you trust and never give out any private information. But, do we as adults follow the same protocols? I have always tried to keep my friend list quiet limited. I have all my family members, near and far, as well as friends that I know, trust, and continue to maintain a relationship with outside of the virtual world. I NEVER friend a student. The tricky part for me is co-workers. There are a lot of people who want to be friends on facebook just because it is the thing to do. While I consider many of my co-workers friends, I am also leary to mix my home life with my work life. I also have concerns about friending some people because of inappropriate posts or unethical comments. If I were in a staffroom, I would have the ability to walk away from a conversation, but I am often worried that someone might say something inappropriate on my wall or just be associated with me when they say it. Lastly, in my admin role, I often find it hard to see the line where a co-worker begins and ends and a “boss” is implied. At this point, I struggle with who to friend and who not to. Boyd mentions for teens, being part of social networking matters. She compares it to being at the mall or hanging out with friends. I would say that being part of social networking for adults is just as important when it comes to the concept of acceptance.

I would love to know how you decided who “gets” to be on your friend list.

The next part of Boyd’s presentation that I found interesting were the properties of social networking. The four that struck me the most were replicability, scalability, searchability and (de)locatability. Here is a brief summary of each.

Copyright Symbols by MikeBlogs, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  MikeBlogs 

Replicability: refers to the process in which something someone says can be copied, pasted, edited and re-pasted. It brings bullying to a whole new level. It becomes very easy to make someone look like a fool because of something he may or may not have said. The scary part is that we cannot control what people replicate and the questions of heresay come into play. For students, it is important to teach respect, responsibility and good digital citizenship in order to help avoid this.

Scalability: refers to the scale to which what is being said can travel via the web. This can be a very large scale or viewers. Typically, the scale is large when something is very negative, such as an embarassing moment or when it is very positive, like the Susan Boyle phenomenon.

Dr. Jacque Pelzer and Lauren Trager by bizjournal, on Flickr

Searchability: refers to our digital location through use of social media. It means what we do online is viewable by everyone. This may include college administrators, parents, potential employers, and the justice system. For the users, it means that we need to think about the ways in which we use social media so that we are not participating in ways that lead us into trouble. My rule of thumb is always: If you wouldn’t say it to your grandma or the pope, don’t post it!

(De)locatability: refers to the ease in which we can now find the physical person because of the technology he is using. You can be anywhere using your device, but now you can also be found anywhere because you are using your device. The question is, how find-a-ble do we want to be?

The Global Positioning System by SonnyandSandy, on Flickr
Boyd closes her presentation stating that what we must do as educators is to open a dialogue. Asking what others are doing and why is a first step. I truly belive that EC&I 831 has helped me to start this process of sharing and questionning. Next, we need to teach the use and usefullness of technology and then help the students (and parents) to work through sociality. There should be no us (digital immigrants) and them (digital natives). What a lovely closing thought of everyone working together for the betterment of education!

2 Responses to “Those teens today!”

  1. Anna Says:

    Hey Sarah, I enjoyed your post a lot. I have also been wondering why do we like to blame teens for everything. Someone said once: The world is always worse that it used to be. It is referring to the standard statement: “In my days…” and “When I was a kid, teenagers were not…”.
    This is a video every parent and every grownup should see. I loved it:

  2. […] and growing and writing with more flare and posting more riveting images.  I really loved  Sarah‘s post this week – her huge heart for teaching young teens and boys comes through in […]

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