“Generation Like”

“You are what you like.”  This is a direct quote from the video Generation Like.  Today, social media is such a huge part of our society that the word “like” has a completely different meaning than it once did.  Today’s generation speaks a different language.  A language fueled by social media.  Although social media has become a powerful tool for people to communicate and reach out to anyone, anywhere, at any time, what impact does this have on our kids? 

Do our kids realize that marketing companies such as TVGLA are targeting them using social media?  To what degree does this affect their choices and decisions?  It is shocking to me how much profit companies are making by targeting young people to “like” them.  At the same time, I think it is genuis.  Why shouldn’t these companies use social media to promote their product?  I think the goal is to educate our children to understand the magnitude of social media and become smart consumers.  Just because it is on the computer does NOT mean it’s private.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  Social media is all about sharing, and that means your information can be accessed by companies, as well as other individuals.  Yes, even if you set your setting to private 🙂  “Private” is extremely relative in the social media world.  

Likes online equal popularity.  As one student stated in the video, “the more likes you have, the better you feel.”  People, especially young people, spend hours choosing profile and cover photos.  Why?  They want to be liked!  So instead of this type of social interaction occuring in person, today it is happening online.  What does this tell our children?  Image becomes critically important in social media.  You are not speaking with or talking to your “friends” online, therefore, all they are looking at and judging you by is your profile pic and other photos on your page.  On Twitter, it’s what you tweet that makes people want to follow you.  So this makes me question, are kids being truthful?  Are they really identifying their true selves?  Does it matter?  “A brand and your best friend are no different.”   I have facebook myself, and while I stay true to who I am, I post photos that I like and think look good.  My concern with this is that kids will pick on each other in a very silent way.  Bullying online can be more damaging than in person.  It is not heard or seen in public, and therefore can be harder to identify.  Scary!  

I think that social media is a powerful tool and allows kids to express themselves in ways that were not possible in past generations.  It allows them to not only communicate with their friends, but also with the famous and otherwise unreachable people.  Any ordinary “Joe Shmo” can now become an online celebrity with thousands of followers.  How?  It depends on how many LIKES that video, story, page has!  It’s like a mass online vote.  No wonder social media has become the most powerful tool of our generation.

As educators, it is our responsibility to teach our kids how to be smart when using social media.  Making instruction relevant to our students’ needs is key.  Social media is a part of their life and it is our job to integrate this into our lesson plans and to keep up with the times.  Social media will only become stronger, and in order to be up to speed, becoming a Geneartion Like teacher is critical!

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