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Guest blogger: Saibi

Young People and Social Media

In chapter 1 of Its Complicated, boyd introduces the idea that how a teen presents him or herself on the internet and over social media should not be taken at face value as a complete and wholly accurate depiction of that individual. The dawn of the social media age has seen a dramatic collapse of social contexts and when that is ignored it can cause some serious confusion and frustration. boyd explains that teens (and most human beings) allow their behavior to be dramatically influenced by social context. we don’t interact with our future employers and our closest friend groups in the same way and there has never been a problem with besides some slight awkwardness if there should be an accidental collision of groups. Social media, however, makes the occasional accidental meeting of social groups look like child’s play. Suddenly everyone has access to every facet of your personality that you show. Even when that one funny Facebook status was very obviously an inside joke between your inner sanctum of friend, Grandma can still jump in and tell you you should probably be eating your vegetables because you are looking a bit pale.

The mass contextual collapse that is social media can be scary and boyd seems to urge people to use caution and a level head when jumping in to the fray because as with the rest of the internet, social media websites can be messy paces. Her main message seems to be one of caution. Have fun exploring all the ways that social media allows you to express yourself, but don’t assume that you are in complete control of who sees what and how people are interpreting that information.

Q: while it is easy to misinterpret content and context on social media sites, it seems a bit to o easy to say “just take it with a grain of salt” Is it the posters responsibility to take in to consideration more than the imagined audience of a specific post? Or should the audience be expected to ignore anything that is not obviously meant for them?

Q: should teens be held accountable for content posted on social media websites? are there ethical/ boundaries that get muddy when different social groups can see how an individual acts in different aspects of his life?

Chapter 7 highlights the limitations and dangers of the idea of the digital native. boyd explains that, while the so called digital natives who grew up with the internet have no problem navigating around cyberspace like naturals, that they may not know how to critically analyze the content they are receiving or how to really make the most of their online experience. The term digital native implies that all teens have a certain working understanding and skill set when it comes to the internet, when in reality many teenagers can’t to more than navigate a Facebook page.
The assumption that there is an entire generation of tech savvy digital natives running around just waiting to mature into the next multi million dollar web engineers  means that educators don’t put any emphases on learning how to navigate the internet in an informed way. Teachers tell students that Wikipedia is not a valid research source but they also don’t teach students how to process through the avalanche of other false sources there are on the internet. The first google result is not the last word in an argument.
Another danger of the idea of the digital native is that it emphasizes a generational gap that might not be there. There are “digital immigrants who are more internet savvy than I will ever be, and digital natives who only know how to type questions in to google. While teens do have a stunning ability to navigate from one social media to another seamlessly, not everyone is born with an innate ability to contribute to and utilize the internet to its fullest capacity.
The internet is a messy place full of personal bias, subtle politics, and fraught with danger. No poor unsuspecting teen should be thrown in to that labyrinth without at least some basic training just because we think they were born doing it. Not everyone meets to be trained to be amazing coders, but we can’t expect amazing things from an untrained generation.

Q: How can educators approach the idea of teaching digital literacy? should there be a Basic Internet Skillz 101 class taught to every 5th grader? or is it a more subtle shift of not expecting complete literacy from everyone born after a certain date that needs to happen?

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