I can’t possibly tell my 12 year old to not be on social media. Soon enough she will be there. But what I can do, is to teach her the best use of it as I am figuring it out too.
One of the biggest downsides of social media, for young girls in particular, is this overwhelming pressure that comes from the commentary of others on the fancies of their own lives. There is plenty of research available on this. People have the right to choose the way they want to express themselves and their expression is not necessarily an act to make anyone feel less of themselves but that happens. And what we need is a skill to navigate.
And that is where, critical thinking is the key to successfully navigating social media.
Critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement. I often show her pictures and posts on social media and ask her to analyse them.
- A photo that is taken from an angle to make it look just right for the purpose. For example, a hall with some people, made to look full of people.
- An article that is published but is it a free, paid or an earned publication?
- A food product that is positioned as fat free but what about calories?
- An award that is won, is it a free, earned or paid award ?
- That person who created a large volumes of content but what is the quality of the content? And did they write it themselves?
- Research says…but who did the research and what is the credibility of it?
We know social media is here to stay but what we can do is to teach our children to use it in the best way by applying critical thinking to what they see and read rather than just accepting everything at face value.
Critical thinking is a digital skill we must teach and continue to learn ourselves too.
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