There’s been a bit of chat recently about a particular blog post discussing what teenagers really think about social media (A Teenager’s View on Social Media, written by an actual teen), with direct referencing of particular social media platforms. As you might guess, I’m pretty interested in social media and how it can be used to engage our students (let alone keep me up to date with the my social world), so I had a good read of the article.
It is well written, and has some pretty great points, and is written by an actual 19 year old teen. But as I read through the piece, I got a bit uneasy about the assumptions that some of us might then make about teenager use of social media in general, based on the views of this one teenager. Not all of it was matching my experiences of how teens used social media… Am I becoming disconnected from the kids I need to be able to teach? Is there something else going on? And I guess the bigger question could be, just because this is written by one teenager, is it actually representative of all teenagers? To my mind, it isn’t (but then, I’m not a teen, just some old guy who teaches them).
Enter dana boyd (no capitals on purpose), author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, a well researched study into the use of social media by teens (and very well worth a read). In this book, she’s researched how teens are using technology in their lives and how that intersects the world around them. In her piece (on Medium), entitled An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media, dana responds to the countless people who sent her the original blog post, with a very well written, thoughtful and helpful article.
Perhaps the biggest take away, if nothing else, is:
“Teens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography and cultural background.”
I found myself wondering how often it was that I placed my assumptions of how my students use technology on the basis of a generalised, westernised, white, middle-class techno-centred group that we’ve all come to assume is the teenager today.
Have a read. It’s food for thought.