At that conference, I had the opportunity to watch a presentation by Dave Sweeney, owner and operator of , an organization that promotes using social media and online media, such as video to help businesses reach consumers. The title of this presentation was “Where the Kids Are: How Teens Use Social Media.” In this session, Dave talked about some of the research released this summer by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, entitled “.” I recommend that everyone read this report. Much of what it highlights is what many educators already know: that teens in particular are increasingly using mobile technologies, social media, and other technologies. Further, today’s high schoolers are moving away from social media giant Facebook in favor of technologies such as Twitter, Vine, Snapchat, and others. This finding from Pew was not particularly surprising, as I’ve similarly found that students were less likely to prefer Facebook for a number of reasons, most notably because Facebook was not a space where students felt they had privacy. This is in large part because of the size of students’ Facebook networks, which commonly includes brief acquaintances, family, and others. For more personal interactions with a smaller network of close friends, students turn to other technologies, such as text messaging, Twitter, and others.
Social Media as a Distraction
Several attendees at Dave Sweeny’s session commented that students’ usage of these technologies provides “nothing more than a distraction” for students. Dave’s response challenged this belief, arguing that these technologies are the new reality of K-12 and higher education; students will continue to use such technologies, and as such, practitioners are tasked with finding ways around the detriments of such technologies. Here are my thoughts: