Digi Domi

Sharing my passion for technology and learning.

Denial is futile

When I was growing up I always thought my parents were model citizens, and indeed they are in many ways, but they are also human.

With our lives logged on social media sites, and categorised in date order, even framed in a timeline, like a personalised episode of ‘This is your life’ for the ‘digital generation’, denial is futile.

It struck me the other day, that my mother might have been able to keep up the appearance that she was a totally innocent teenager, with little photographic evidence of her life. The images that did exist were under her complete control, hidden in dusty photo albums out of reach. On the other hand when I have children my entire life, since the age of 15 (and anything prior I have later posted) will be available online for my children’s perusal. If I decided I’d like to deny that I’ve ever gone to a party, too bad, there are pictures of me celebrating NYE and birthdays, uploaded by others, some of whom I may have lost contact with. They could read through my past tweets, see that ‘mummy uses bad language’ (on occasions). I do try to keep it clean online, with employers and potential employers online I’d like to portray myself as respectable, however we are all human, and although there may not be pictures of me with my knickers on my head (not that I do that in my spare time) I still couldn’t pretend to my children that I was Snow White!

So, is this a problem? Will I be constantly undermined by my social media timeline when trying to discipline my future children? Will they turn to a life of crime because of a lack of enforceable rules created by social media? I’d certainly hope not. And indeed I see no reason why that should be so. As long as I continue to operate sensibly on social media, there will never be anything to prevent me being an authority figure in my future children’s lives. As far as them seeing my past, again this shouldn’t be a problem. Perhaps it will force me to be more realistic and honest in my parenting, and not relying on ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ I can be upfront that ‘yes, mummy may use the occasional bad word, but that makes her naughty’. I don’t believe that a parent should have to be infallible, it’s an unrealistic expectation. Of course it might sound a bit premature to suggest they will see this content whilst they still refer to me as ‘mummy’ and do not themselves use ‘bad words’, however I honestly feel that children are starting to use online environments from a younger age. Even if they do not have their own accounts, they might look at my account. I see it as an opportunity to teach them about online etiquette as, for me, this is now as important as general manners for children of the future (it’s important now and my children haven’t even been conceived yet, so who knows how important it will be by then!)

Of course this may pose more problems for those users of social media who are not careful, those who do have picture of them with knickers on their head, smoking and punching someone in the face (which is quite a picture). This could prove more challenging to be upfront about, and will certainly take strong parenting to navigate. It’s not only pictures that are a potential problem. what is your children see you bullying someone on Twitter because they had a valid opinion, but did not agree with your own? Are you teaching them that it’s okay to bully if someone is different to you? Sadly I fear that many of the individuals who conduct themselves in this way may not be that bothered about raising their children to be open minded, caring and reflective individual that contribute positively to society. For those people, it will simply make it difficult for them to use the phrase ‘things weren’t like this in my day, youngsters now have no respect for anything!’.

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Social Media: A tool box

There are many tools available within the social media toolbox, and this can often lead those unfamiliar with these “new” technologies to feel overwhelmed.

As an e-learning specialist it is part of my job to explain the magnitude of tools to lecturers. And I would normally explain them as exactly that..tools. And just like you wouldn’t get a hammer out and then decide you need to put a nail into the wall, or get a screwdriver and try to use it to hammer a nail into the wall, nor should you use a social media tool without first having a job to do. Like needing to hang a picture and then selecting the hammer.

Of course there are many pros to social media as well. Primarily the four C’s, creating, collaborating, collecting and communicating.

Creating

Social media tools allow you to create content, whether this is an image, video blog post or anything else. By creating your own content you can then share and promote that content to others. This can be a great way to gain a following or fan base and even get work commissioned. A friend of mine was an illustration student and she uploaded her work to Flickr. Through this she got commissioned to do artwork and illustrations of individuals who had admired her work.

Collaborating

Tools such as Google Drive are great for working collaboratively. But social media can also be great for finding other to collaborate with. Through social networking sites, blogs and Twitter (both a social networking site and a micro-blogging site) you can find like minded others that you may wish to collaborate with. This is particularly true if your area of expertise is very niche, and perhaps there is no-one else in your geographical area that you can work with. Once you find someone to collaborate with, you can then begin your project using tools such as Skype for communication, and tools such as wiki’s to build collaborative documents.

Collecting

As well as creating your own content on social media you can also collect that content and other content from the web. This is most easily done via social bookmarking. Using tools such as Delicious and Pinterest to collect links to interesting sites, articles, videos or images. By collecting them together in one place, and organising them through tags and categories you build your own reference source, making it easy to share information you find valuable and refer back to it at a latter date should you need to.

Communicating

Of course, most people know the communication benefits social media offers, with the likes of Facebook offering many different methods, from public wall posts, to group forums and private messaging. But other sites also offer many great ways to communicate, including Google+ which allows you to organise contacts into ‘circles’ much like the circles we communicate in during our day to day lives. so you can easily send something to all of your family members, whilst hiding it from your friends and colleagues. Google+ also offers to hang outs feature, which is a great way to video conference, particularly if you are working as a group.  Communication via social media means that your communications flow into your other uses of the sites, rather than being a specific thing such as with traditional methods like email.

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