Last November, the Women’s Media Center (WMC) and Girls Learn International, Inc. (GLI) launched a video series called Girls Investigate where teen girls explore media issues. A few days ago, they released the second video & commentary of the series, Nadia Tareen’s Girls Investigate: From Face to Facebook.
Nadia’s video and written commentary examine the rise of social media and the fact that the majority of its users are female. Nadia raises the question with a peer group of teen girls about how social media impacts the quality and nature of their lives. Nadia covers the issues of safety and authenticity .
As my own daughter approaches her teenage years, I found this fascinating and a little scarry. Nadia paints a picture of the downside of young women "addicted to social social media." She suggests that these tools can be a waste of time, even dangerous unless young girls are taught to approach social media with moderation and goals. Those approaches unlock the power.
Nadia writes about the power of social media for activism and other "intelligent uses." She asks:
"But what does it mean to be “intelligent” when using social media? I have spoken to several girls, ranging from ages fourteen to eighteen, about their views on the subject. Most agree that teenagers should strive to achieve a balance between social media and the real interactions that happen in the three-dimensional world. It can be easy to develop a Facebook fixation or a Twitter obsession, and excessive use of social media sometimes results in the loss of traditional social skills. One of my interviewees remarked that she rarely calls her friends anymore, since texting and social networking websites have conditioned her to only communicate through these means. The social media realm of communication is convenient but its content can be easily misconstrued. For example, an instant message saying, “that’s funny” could either be genuine or mocking, but sarcasm and natural voice tone rarely translate successfully on the internet."
Nadia's examination is mature beyond her teen years. She is saying that growing up in a socially networked world has a lot of benefits, but it is important to be smart of using it.
As a parent and someone who is very engaged in social media, I think it is important to teach my children well about how to use the social web in a smart and savvy way that helps them reap the benefits. I think it is something that needs to nurtured at home.
What do you think?
Beth Kanter, writes Beth's Blog, and is the BlogHer CE for Nonprofits.
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