Warning, this post involves a soap box rant.
I have not got a twitter account. I’m not on instagram or snap chat or any other of these, frankly, pointless and trouble causing excuses for entertainment and communication tool.
I do have a Facebook account. I never go on it. And if I had enough time to waste on trying to extract the photos I once put on there and now no longer have (thanks to an old laptop – RIP) I would then cancel that too.
I got sick of people telling me what they were eating at that moment. I got sick of the not so cryptic and far too public dramatic comments designed to elicit a multitude of “What’s up hun?” “inbox me” etc etc.
My real hatred though has come from my job. I cannot tell you how many social media issues we deal with every day.
Thing is, there are no controls. With social media, teenagers can create their own worlds and their own hierarchy. They can recreate themselves without fear. Hiding behind the security of their screens, in the comfort of their own homes, they can ridicule and bully in their adult free world.
So you know your perfectly well behaved daughter? Online, she can have the confidence to be one of the ‘cool’ kids by posting what she thinks her peers will find socially entertaining. Naively, she won’t think that her comments will leave the imagined walls of her virtual chat room. They always do, eventually.
Daily, I get to read the most sexually explicit, sexist, racist, homophobic, disablist posts often written by children 12 to 14 years of age. Social media does not hone their communication skills or their social skills. It teaches them sly ways to ridicule and humiliate.
Please don’t think my school is any different from any other. We are a true comprehensive with children coming to school on public buses or in top of the range Mercedes. All kids have mobile phones and Internet access. My colleagues in schools in neighbouring boroughs are having exactly the same problem:this is the digital age, after all.
Encourage your children to socialise with their friends in person. Share with them the dangers of social media and explain how publicly humiliating the written word can be – worse than any verbal teasing as so many more people will access it than would ever hear it.
If I had my way, social media would be banned to under 18’s. Or preferably, altogether.