Social media is for the babes

25 May

I came across an article online a couple of days ago that made  me pause. The issue at hand? Togetherville, a social networking site designed for 6- 10-year-olds. My first thought? How ridiculous. What does a 7-year-old need with their own junior version of Facebook? It’s like parents who give cell phones to children who can’t even drive yet — unnecessary and an electronic push that we shouldn’t be making, another step backward in the development of interpersonal skills.

Seriously, kids. I waited until I was almost 16 for a cellphone.

Then, I thought about it some more. At my advanced age of 20, my childhood experience is already worlds away from the one of kids growing up in this decade. I used to take books around with me when waiting for a doctor – last spring, I saw two young boys in an orthodontist’s lobby playing with the camera on their mother’s cell phone while their older sibling was being seen. Like it or not, digital is dominating the world and the lives of today’s children. Maybe Togetherville isn’t that bad of an idea. Online safety and cyberbullying are increasingly important issues and the younger you start teaching a child about something, the more likely the lesson is to stick. And I don’t really think this will hinder children’s ability to interact with other people. In fact, as an avid Facebook user myself, I find that social media makes me more likely to talk with people and discuss issues than I would without it. A popular use for Facebook events? Party planning. As in, real life get togethers, many of which I would not know about otherwise.

Overall, I think Togetherville highlights the importance of social media and the importance it will continue to have in the future. For everyone quitting Facebook because it’s “a waste of time,” you might want to rethink that decision. And for journalists, children who are now growing up with these websites will be reliant on them when they are adults as well. Tweeting, blogging, developing Facebook fan pages – all are important tools for today’s multimedia reporters.

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