It Sometimes Scares Me

I’m going to make myself somewhat vulnerable in this post and truly reflect and share some thoughts and fears that struck me not only during this week, but through my entire journey learning about the online world. I am learning about the amazing things the online world has to offer, engaging in different social media platforms, and using new online resources in the classroom. But throughout the process, in the back of my mind I have always been somewhat terrified of how this same online world can be absolutely terrifying for young people. I’m not personally scared by this- but I am scared for the students I teach, young people in general, and my future children.

I will start by summarizing my thoughts on some articles from this week, all relating to social media platforms that I am not familiar with: Reddit, 4chan, and YikYak.

Why teenagers are ‘self-trolling’ on websites like Reddit– I think I read this article with my jaw dropped wide open. I had no idea ‘self-trolling’ was a thing and it terrifies me to think that kids and young people are not only willingly subjecting themselves to such ridicule, but that they are sometimes the ones writing those nasty comments about themselves.

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Absolutely everything you need to know to understand 4chan, the Internet’s own bogeyman– This was another article talking about an online platform that I was not aware of, 4chan. Though the article argues the positive things that can come from this forum, the negative things seemed to outweigh those. They state,  “4chan is responsible for some of the largest hoaxes, cyberbullying incidents and Internet pranks of the past five years.”

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Yik Yak– What stood out to me about this app was the anonymity of users, “Nima Naimi, who conducts cyberbullying research at McGill University in Montreal, says the anonymity offered by the app may lead to a lack of empathy and users saying things that they wouldn’t normally say in person.”

These were just some thoughts I had from this weeks readings, but some other stories/stats that stick with me and make me concerned are those such as the story of Amanda Todd or the stats about teens and porn.  I just feel overwhelmed by all of the things available to innocent, naive young people online. I also wrote a blog post last semester The Darker Side of Being Online reflecting on similar concerns. Don’t get me wrong, it does not make me want them to disconnect or avoid the online world, it just makes me scared to know some of the things they are exposed to.

I don’t expect to get any answers for these concerns, I am just reflecting and sharing my thoughts and fears. Does anyone else relate to this? Do you have other concerns? Do you think I am overreacting? I would love to hear your comments below!

 

 

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4 thoughts on “It Sometimes Scares Me

  1. Erin Benjamin says:

    I can definitely relate to your concerns Amy. Throughout reading I found myself often thinking “Thank goodness I don’t have my own children!”. My husband and I plan to have children at some point but as I read these articles this week, I felt anxiety for parents who have to deal with all of these issues with their children. I feel like I would want to expose my children to technology and teach them to by digital citizens, but there is so much to fear online that it definitely makes me hesitant. You’re not alone with your reservations!

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    • Amy says:

      I feel the same way about having children! Whenever issues like these come up, in the back of my mind I am always asking myself how I am going to protect my own children from it all.

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  2. Shantelle Roundell says:

    I’m reading through others’ blogs about this week’s readings as I gather my own thoughts to write my own blog and wow – Amy what you wrote and reflected on may as well have been written by me! I couldn’t agree more with most of your reactions! I didn’t know most of that existed – I mean I knew cyber-bullying and such was out there but I didn’t know things like ‘self-trolling’ existed to the point where it had its own term!

    And like both Amy and Erin, while I fear for my students and my own future children that they may be exposed to (and participate in) online forums like reddit and yik yak and such in a negative way…I too don’t think it’s so much that I would ban them from using technology or going on social media. I think it all comes down to instilling positive digital citizenship and good values to know what on social media is helpful to them and what is harmful (to put at an 8-year-old’s level!)

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    • Amy says:

      I agree Shantelle! The pros of social media definitely outweigh the cons. It just seems when I think I know everything I need to know about the dangers/risks of social media- something new and even more frightening comes up!

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