Summary of My Learning

It feels great to be finished the final piece of assessment for this course! It has been a semester filled with learning and with it quite a bit of work. There was a lot to read between the articles, blogs, Twitter and Google+ and at times it was a little overwhelming but it was worth it. Everything that was shared in class was so helpful and served a good purpose. I have to say that this has been the most interesting and beneficial grad class I have taken yet (although it is only my third).

For my summary of learning I did a screen cast of a Prezi that I created to walk you through my journey. I have never created a Prezi before but decided I would try it out because a lot of my students use it when they are presenting. It was pretty easy to use and they had some nice templates as well. The presentations are also saved online and you can use the service for free with the option to upgrade for a fee. I now understand why my students make such use of the service.

As I mention at the start of my video it was very difficult to discuss everything I learned this semester and it would have been impossible to touch on all of the topics without having a video that was an hour long (or more). I tried to talk about the topics that matter most to me – and the video still ended up quite lengthy. These topics had the biggest impact on me and I will be doing my best to use what I learned about these topics in class moving forward. I wasn’t able to talk about how much I actually began to enjoy Twitter this semester. I had used it before but I had never made real connections and really didn’t follow anything too closely. I now see Twitter as a great resource and tool for making connections with other leaders in our field. I will continue to use Twitter and will probably even integrate it into my classroom by using it to share what’s new and exciting in my classes.

I also didn’t have time to mention that I feel slightly disadvantaged taking this class while being on leave because there were so many things I wanted to try in my classroom but obviously couldn’t. I am really looking forward to getting back into the classroom even though it’s not until September. Although I feel like I missed out, I also feel like taking it on leave really gives me time to explore things and see what might work in my classroom or figure out how I can integrate things into my class when I return. I feel like in some ways when I return to work that I will be a brand new teacher!

Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and ideas this semester. It was great to hear from everyone and learn from you. I hope I was able to  impact your learning as well. I hope to keep in touch via Twitter and see how we are making a difference in our classrooms.

 

So…what’s next? How do we approach teaching digital citizenship?

Throughout the semester we have discussed a lot of different topics but all of them have digital citizenship as an overarching theme. Being at the end of the semester the big question now becomes what next? Where do we go from here? How do we take all of the things we have talked about and do something with it? What’s the next step?

Photo Credit: Jens Rost via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Jens Rost via Compfight cc

When I think about what I can do to encourage good digital citizenship in my students I sometimes struggle to think about how I will teach about the topic and involve it in my classes. I teach a lot of math, accounting and other business classes. I find it difficult to think about how I can integrate digital citizenship into my math classes. In math I think I will have to lean towards a digital literacy approach because just like Andrew I have students coming to me with information they learned from watching a youtube video or that they read on a website. The problem is that some of the information may not be correct or if it is correct it might skip a lot of steps making it difficult for students to actually understand the concept. I need to be able to teach students how to find information that is credible. I can also help students locate information by providing them resources such as Khan Academy to use. Although it is difficult to use the curriculum or content in some of the courses I teach to focus on digital citizenship or digital literacy I can use teachable moments in class whenever I hear students discuss social media use.

Sometimes I have the opportunity to teach Computers 9 or Information Processing 10 at my school. These are two classes that I will be making big changes to since taking EC&I 832. There is really no curriculum for the Computer 9 class. We use it at our school to replace the PAA 9 rotation that they have at the other high schools in the city. Because we don’t have proper shops we have had to adapt our course and have made a Computer 9 class for our students. In the class students usually learn basic MS Office applications, web safety, coding, blogging and web creation. With no set curriculum in place it will be very easy to update this course to include topics such as digital citizenship, social media and online identities. The Information Processing 10 curriculum is extremely outdated and can easily be updated as well to include topics such as blogging, social media, digital citizenship and digital literacy. I would like to have a bigger focus on the things we have discussed throughout this course that are so important for students to be aware of such as cyberbullying, sexting, digital footprints and digital citizenship. I think there is a lot of information that may not be as ‘academic’ but will serve a better purpose for our students.

Photo Credit: Joe Houghton via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Joe Houghton via Compfight cc

Cyberbullying, sexting, digital citizenship and online identity are topics that need to be discussed at home as well as at school. As Andrew and Rochelle have mentioned it cannot be left to the teachers to teach. Both Rochelle and Andrew mentioned that their parents were active participants in their learning but have noticed that it seems parents pass a lot of basic teaching responsibilities on to the teachers. No matter what the topic or lesson, parents need to play an active role in there children’s learning. There are a lot of ways parents can be active in their children’s learning such as keeping in touch with teachers, talking about healthy relationships, setting perimeters and boundaries for technology when necessary and checking in with their kids on a daily basis on more than just school. We all need to play an active role in teaching about digital citizenship. What do you think is the most important thing parents should be doing in order to teach this?

I came across this video discussing 3 challenges that we face when teaching digital citizenship. We are living in a time when technology is more accessible than ever before. Technology changes at such a fast pace that it is easy to get lost in the chaos. I think we need to understand that it’s next to impossible to stay on top of EVERYTHING involving technology, but it is really important to make an effort to stay as close to on top of it as we can.

The 3 challenges this video discusses are:

  1. Letting kids learn from their mistakes. This can be a really tough way to go when we talk about technology. If students update or share something on social media, the repercussions can be drastic. It is not easy to undo something that has been posted online (it is basically impossible) which means that a mistake can turn into a problem that can never be forgotten. The Solution: Teach children about the consequences of a post online. Share stories about others who have had to deal with their mistakes so that they don’t make the same mistakes. Students need to be taught about this at a VERY young age to prevent mistakes from being made further down the road.
  2. Keeping up with changes in technology. It is almost impossible to keep up and create rules and guidance for technology because it changes so quickly. Just when we think we have it all figured out, something changes. The Solution: Talk with students. Let students know the basics of digital citizenship and digital literacy so that they are prepared for any changes that may come their way. Have discussions about changes that happen and how those changes affect they way we use technology. Stay on top of things as best you can.
  3. Getting on the same page. Administrators, teachers, parents and students are all on different pages. Students are receiving mixed messages which can be confusing for students. The Solution: Discuss expectations with parents, other teachers, admin and students. Help the adults see technology as a benefit to students as opposed to a distraction. Encourage students to use technology for a bigger purpose than to upload selfies or play games. Encourage students to use technology to be activists, have a voice, connect with others and express themselves in a meaningful way.

The last challenge in the video really speaks to me because we have an pretty strict cell phone policy at our school. Students who are caught with a cell phone have had their phone kept in the principals office for up to 2 weeks (and no I’m not kidding). Our school has very high religious standards and expectations which creates some problems with using devices and computers. Parents and some board members are worried about the content that students will be seeing when they use their devices without close supervision. Cell phones are seen as a very large distraction and the concern about content being viewed has basically banned them from the school. But here’s the thing…if students have access to these phones and computers outside of school, are they constantly being monitored by parents while using them? My guess is probably not. Therefor, if they were to access any content that may be inappropriate my guess is that they would come across this on their own anyways. I think that phones and computers at our school are a distraction because they are almost TABOO so when students do get to use them it’s such a novelty. If we loosened our cell phone policy and allowed students to access them in class or use them for educational purposes I think they would become less of a distraction and more of a tool for learning. If we can teach students when it’s appropriate to shout out answers and when we should raise our hand or when to be silly and when to be serious, I think we can teach students that the cell phone is much more than a tool to watch silly youtube videos, text or share pictures with. This is something I would really like to see change at my school. With myself being on maternity leave right now maybe some things have changed. Andrew has been a big advocate for using devices at our school and I know we have made some progress over the years but I’m hoping that between Andrew and I we can make some big things happen.

 

Taking a Closer Look at Sexting.

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I can’t quite describe how I felt after watching the CBC documentary Sext up KIDS. I was a little sad, sympathetic and somewhat worried but I was definitely NOT shocked. It isn’t news to me that kids – especially girls- are growing up way too soon. I have seen many of my little cousins grow up way too soon. Why do little girls want to grow up so quick? I think it is clear that there is a lot of pressure from the media for girls to want to grow up quick. Billboards, music videos, actresses, television ads, clothes, movies and so much more contribute to the pressure girls face to grow up. They are constantly exposed to images of women who are made up to look ‘perfect’. They see ads that sexualize women. They see women in music videos dancing provocatively wearing very little clothing. What is a young girl to think about her image when she grows up being exposed to all of this??

Girls are taught at a very young age that they need to look a certain way. The media pressures them to act and look a certain way to please others. Girls looking for attention from boys may take selfies in which their image is filtered to look its best. Worse than a simple selfie is taking a naked or semi-naked photo to send to a boy, otherwise known as a sexting. Kids (and even adults) often forget that once a picture is sent, it can be shared over and over. Sexting has required law makers to look at what is happening and develop new laws to prevent taking and sharing of sexual pictures.

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Photo Credit: Pro Juventute via Compfight cc

How Teens View Sexting by CBC looks at a variety of issues and findings regarding sexting. There are five sub-heading discussed in the article. Below you will find each sub-heading with a brief overview of the discussion.

  1. Sexting seen as an adult term. In the study titled Young People and Sexting in Australia  students surveyed said that they didn’t consider sexting to be an accurate term. It is a term used only by adults and they consider their images simply pictures
  2. It’s all about consent. Teens don’t have a lot of issues with the images themselves but the issues arise when the images are shared without the consent of the person in the image.
  3. A ‘culture of slut-shaming’. We are still trying to learn the boundaries of technology and deciding what is private and what is not. An image may be sent as self-expression or to show trust but if that trust is violated the girl is usually labelled and blamed.
  4. A gender issue. It is often the girls who are called sluts and labelled when they take a picture of themselves. The girl is usually blamed in a situations involving sexual behaviour. It hasn’t been until recently that we have began to discuss what the expectations are for males in relationships and what their responsibilities are when it comes to sexting. We forget that girls have sexual desires too and feel a need to satisfy them. It isn’t only boys who want to flirt or fulfill their desires.
  5. Change the Law? Two young women, Maryellen Gibson and Alice Gauntley, interviewed for the article want to see laws change around the non-consensual sharing of images. Gibson figures that if the images are shared consensually than there shouldn’t be any concerns. It isn’t until the images are shared non-consensually that laws should be considered.

I agree with a lot of what the girls had to say. I do feel that girls have always been the target of name calling and blaming even before sexting was a thing. It seems that no one remembers the male but will always remember the female from a situation. I don’t recall Bill Clinton receiving as much of the blame or shaming as Monica Lewinsky. Do you happen to know the male who was in Paris Hilton’s sex tape?? I didn’t until I looked it up just now (FYI his name is Rick Salomon). Remember the girl from the Calgary Stampede threesome, Alex Frulling? I bet you don’t remember the guys names…were they even ever mentioned? I don’t recall them ever being mentioned but I remember hearing days after the threesome was recorded that Alex Frulling’s Facebook and Instagram follows sky rocketed. Why does it matter that we don’t know the guys involved? It matters because no one seemed to care that they had no shame in partaking in the threesome in the corner of a parking lot. It matters because no one thought they were awesome for doing it. Nobody started following them on Facebook or Instagram. We are so quick to ridicule the females involved, but we rarely pay any attention to the males involved. That is something I hope changes in the future. We need to teach our children that it is not okay to have double-standards.

In terms of the laws, I don’t necessarily disagree with the comment that images being shared consensually shouldn’t be illegal BUT I do think that it should apply only to people over 18 years of age. At the age of 18 you are considered an adult and should be able to choose if you would like to send an image to another adult. The issue would boil down to the sharing of that image. I don’t want anyone to think that I am pro-sexting or think I’m all for it but to each their own. If that is what two adults decide to share with one another there should be no criminal actions. It is important to remember though that any image that is sent can be saved forever. If images were consensually shared, what happens if you decided that you no longer want the other person to have that image? Break-ups and divorces happen all the time. The saved images can become a problem after a break-up or divorce.

I decided to look into the laws surrounding sexting and I came across a few good finds. The first is this blog: Sexting and the Law in Canada from Kids Help Phone.  I was surprise to read a few things in this blog:

Most sexting images exchanged by teens qualify as child pornography, if there is nudity in the image.However, there is a narrow exception set out in the Supreme Court of Canada case of R. v. Sharpe, that may exclude the exchange of sexual images between intimate partners, provided that the sexual relationship is legal (that is, complies with age of consent restrictions) and the images are kept exclusively by those two people.

AND

Police have not prosecuted teens for consensual sexting in Canada.  However, there have been several reported cases of teens being prosecuted for child pornography offences where the sexual images were distributed more broadly, especially where there is clearly malicious intent.

Both of these quotes gave me a better understanding of some of the laws surrounding sexting. I am happy to hear that if images are being shared with others that you can be charged by the police. Hopefully this helps discourage people from sharing images without consent. In order for it to discourage people they must know about the laws. This is where we can step in and make sure that students are aware of the legal implications of sexting.

Sexting: Considerations for Canadian Youth created by Sexualityandu discusses how common sexting is, why teens sext and legal/privacy issues with sexting. It describes three categories of teen sexting:

  1. Exchange of photos solely between romantic partners in a relationship.
  2. Exchange of photos between two people not in a relationship but where one of the people sends a sext in the hope that it will help to start a romantic relationship between the two.
  3. Exchange of photos between romantic partners or the sending of photos from one person to another with the hope of starting a relationship but the photos are then sent to additional people (Pew Research Centre, 2009).

Category 2 and 3 are the categories that cause a lot of problems with sexting. This is where the legal issues arise for the most part. Category 2 makes me really sad to read. It is sad to think that sexting is used in hopes to start a relationship or to get someones attention. It is also sad that photos are being exchanged within a relationship but they aren’t staying within that relationship. As sad as it is, it comes as no surprise unfortunately.

It is important for us to be addressing these issues at a very young age. As Salem Noon from Sext up KIDS found with her iGirl Workshop for young girls it is often too late to wait until students are teenagers or pre-teens to address this issue. It may seem inappropriate, unnecessary and even feel uncomfortable to talk about at such a young age but the reality is that it needs to be discussed at a young age to prevent issues with sexting before it is too late.

Connectivism and the Future of Education.

Just like Ashley Dew I have been thinking a lot this past week about what the future of education looks like. I know that technology already plays a part in education, but we still have a long ways to go before we can reach our full potential. We know that technology has made it possible to do things more efficiently than we did in the past. All teachers use technology to do things like photocopying, projecting presentations and updating report cards. But for some teachers – including myself…yes I am guilty – our use of technology stops there. We might use the laptops in class from time to time and we feel good that we are integrating technology in our classroom, but are we really integrating technology into our classroom when we use laptops or iPads? We need to use technology with a purpose. Technology offers us so much more than what most of us are doing with it and the future of education will rely heavily on the use of technology.

One of the biggest advantages of technology is the ability to connect with one another. Connectivism is a fairly new learning theory that will become more important as we continue to move through the digital age. It is based on the idea that learning occurs through networks by making connections. George Siemens discusses connectivism and open social environments in this video. He asks you to think about how irrelevant structured learning is and goes on to discuss why. We don’t really know our students and we decide what they will learn without thinking about what is meaningful or helpful to them. In a typical course a teacher will pick and choose what they want to teach and how they want to teach it. He argues that students don’t understand concepts, they merely memorize them. In an open course as opposed to a structured course the students play a more active role and can learn by connecting with others in the course or even outside the course.

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) are designed to learn through making connections with others. Before this week I had never heard of a MOOC. If you’re like me and have never hear of MOOCs before check out this video.

I think that it would be interesting to participate in a MOOC, but I don’t know if we are ready for our students to be left to learning through MOOCs. Maybe it is because I primarily teach high school math I find it very difficult to imagine a course that is highly dependant on learning through connecting with others. I do believe it is crucial for students to make connections with the real world and see how the math they are learning is related and important in that world. There are some classes that seem to need a little more structure than other courses. A MOOC might be a way for students to go beyond the information they are getting in class and further explore a topic that they are interested in. As Henry Jenkins explains there are many students who are participating in online networks and making connections outside of school simply because they are really interested in something. The reason people make youtube videos for example is because they are very interested in whatever they are making videos about. MOOCs might be another way for students to network with others who have similar interests allowing them to learn more through connections.

I came across this video while exploring connectivism. It describes what a networked student looks like as well as the role a teacher plays in this networked students life.

With networked students, teachers work more as a facilitator. Teachers helps students find connections and information but it is the student who is directing their learning. I am torn by the role of a teacher as described in the video. I feel as though our role as teachers in the 21st century will change quite a bit and we will become more of a facilitator in some respects, but I also feel that there is a lot of information that students MUST learn such as reading, writing and math skills. Is it possible for students to learn these skills on their own? With all of the information on the internet today maybe it is? But with so much information on the internet how can we be sure that the information our students are accessing is accurate?

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

I have really been struggling to figure out if education will be able to keep up with technology. Can schools keep up with technology? Technology changes at such a rapid rate that it almost seems impossible to keep up. I feel extremely overwhelmed trying to keep up as it takes time to learn new skills. I struggle when sifting through my twitter feed after not reading it for a few days. I scroll through them quite quickly but feel panicked that maybe I am missing something really valuable. I watch youtube videos or read articles for class and wonder what else is out there that I might find beneficial for class. How can we possibly keep up when everything is changing so quickly? Do our curriculums need to focus more on technology and 21st century skills than traditional skills? Do we need support teachers in the classroom whose job it would be to focus on integrating technology into each classroom? I think that would be a great idea, but I know that financially school systems cannot support that. School systems struggle enough to provide technology devices in their school and have wireless internet that will support all of the devices. I like to think that schools will keep up but it already feels like we are so far behind and not everyone is on the same page. I know that my opinions have changed in regards to technology and I feel like I will be a big advocate for integrating technology into my classroom and school when I return to work. I feel the same way as Jeannine and I am glad that I was able to take this class near the start of my M.Ed program because I think it will serve me well in the future.

Preparing 21st Century Workers

What am I doing to help prepare my students for a future career? How am I creating 21st century learners? Will my students have a positive impact and play a key role in their future workplace? What can I be doing better in my classroom to answer all these questions? These are just some of the many questions I have has this week.

Photo Credit: Max Braun via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Max Braun via Compfight cc

I was really impacted by the Future Work Skills 2020 document. As I was reading I had a lot of different feelings. At some points I felt worried or uneasy because of the thought of things such as jobs becoming more automated. I completely understand that technology is going to have a much bigger role in our careers as we move forward, but it is somewhat unsettling to think that computers will be replacing jobs that people currently do. How will this impact our economy and the people who are currently in the workforce? There are a lot of people in the world and if technology continues to replace people, how will those who may be uneducated or untrained be able to find other jobs. I felt a little more at ease to read that the idea is that computers will be used to analyze data to better serve us and help us. It will allow us to determine what our competitive advantage is as humans. Technology will also help free up time for us to do the things we enjoy by perhaps allowing us to be more efficient at our jobs. Maybe this will create a shorter work day allowing us to have more time to ourselves and less time at work.

As helpful as computers are at analyzing data they cannot read emotions or express feelings in the same way humans do. They cannot determine the context of conversations or words. Even as we use technology more and more in the workforce we must make sure that we develop employees that have social intelligence. Students need to be able to read others emotions and be able to communicate with others. This is one of the many skills that will be important for future workers.

A lot of the other skills that future workers need focus on thinking critically, problem solving, understanding media content and accessing different media. I think that it is extremely important for students to develop skills that allow them to think critically and problem solve. Too often in Math class I hear students say “just tell me how to do it” or “what is the formula?”. A lot of students think that there is only one way to solve a problem and that each problem should be able to be solved that way. There is usually more than one way to go about a problem and in order for students to be comfortable with problem solving they have to be given the opportunity to think for themselves rather than just be told how to do something. I couldn’t agree with Ashley more when she says that before students can think critically about something they must truly understand the concept. I find that in my classroom students don’t often truly understand the material. They simply want to be told what to memorize. I always tell them I don’t want them to memorize anything, I want them to UNDERSTAND it. I find it hard for students to truly understand some math concepts because there is a constant pressure to get through the curriculum and make sure they learn everything. But if I rush through everything are they really learning anything??

I really enjoyed reading Cindy’s blog this week and I have a lot of the same feelings about technology as she did. I am starting to shift towards really wanting to bring technology into my class on a daily basis. Teaching high school where most students have handheld devices or laptops should make this an easy task for me but the school I am at has a very strict policy about using phones in the classroom. I am sure if I talked to my admin staff I would be able to use technology on a daily basis if it was for educational purposes (which it would be). I want to use technology more but I don’t want to simply use technology just for the sake of using it. I really want it to enhance the learning experience for my students. I want to provide them with learning experiences that will develop skills for the future work force. I have good intentions for when I return from maternity leave. The problem is I don’t return to work until September 2016 which right now seems like a lifetime away haha! I am hoping to really look at my courses and determine how I can make the most use of technology in the classroom to benefit students.

Looking at NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment there were a lot of questions that really made me critique my own teaching. There are a lot of things that I am not doing in my classroom that I think I could be doing. I know that I worry about using technology because it isn’t always reliable. That is one of the biggest deterrents for me. The technology and network at my school are not very reliable so I hesitate to use technology because I don’t want to ‘waste’ a lesson on technology that won’t cooperate making me feel more pressure to get through all the information in the curriculum. Maybe I should be less focused on the curriculum and more focused on the skills that will help them become good future workers? I feel like we have a lot of different pressures as teachers and we need to decide what is best for our students. The problem is that what we feel is best for our students might not be what their parents or admin or other teachers think is best. How do we get everyone on the same page and how do we decide what is the most important? Is it possible to address all of these new skills future workers should have at the same time as continue to develop the old skills? I can’t help but think of all of these things and wonder what my classroom will look like when I go back to work. It’s all really exciting but also scary to think about.

I am a sharent.

Photo Credit: Tania Liu via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Tania Liu via Compfight cc

Reflecting back on last week’s discussion in class and some of the readings I thought about what stood out most to me. The discussion surrounding online identity and privacy was the one that stood out most. I wanted to think more about the implications of sharing photos of our children online and came across the term “sharenting”. I had never heard of this before and was quite shocked to learn that I am not just a parent…but a sharent.

“Wikipedia describes sharenting as “the overuse of social media by parents to share content based on their children.”

Rochelle shares a great blog discussing the importance of being a good digital role model for our children. In her blog she shares this thought provoking video from UMHealth Systems about sharenting. In the video it mentions that sharenting isn’t about simply posting pictures and updates about our children, it also includes asking for and giving advice on social media.

Emma Waterman believes we are sharing too much information about or children and creating an online identity for them that they may not be happy about when they are older. She shares results from a study completed at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital including:

  • more than half of mothers and one-third of fathers discuss their children on social media
  • 72 percent of those parents surveyed claim sharing their struggles and triumphs publicly makes them feel less alone
  • parents with kids ages 0-4 are talking about sleep issues 28 percent of the time, nutrition and eating tips 26 precent of the time, daycare/preschool17 percent of the time and behaviour problems 13 percent of the time
  • more than 60 percent of adults surveyed said social media helped them worry less about their skills as a parent

When we post about all of these things we are not only posting on our own behalf to seek advice or reach out, we are posting on our children’s behalf without them even knowing. In 10-12 years down the road when they get their own social media account and friend us what will they think when they look back on our pictures and status updates? Will they be embarrassed by the things we shared? Will they feel guilty when they read us complain about lack of sleep or tantrums they throw? How does our posting affect their identity? How does it affect them emotionally? These are all things we need to consider when we post about our children online. The participants in the study revealed:

  • more than half of parents worried their kids would feel embarrassed in the future
  • three-quarters of parents identified “oversharenting” by another parent as a potential problem
  • two-thirds of parents involved in the study are concerned about privacy issues

The findings are interesting. I do share about my children and although I can’t think of a specific post or picture that they may be embarrassed about in the future, I am sure there is. I don’t worry so much about the privacy issues although I probably should be more worried. I guess I feel like I know my ffriends online well enough that they wouldn’t do anything to my pictures that would cause me to worry. But that being said, do I really know my online friends based on their online identity? Everyone I know online I know quite well in real life as well so I feel like I do know them. But I could be completely wrong.

This thought from Emma was very powerful:

“If we saved all personal profiles on Facebook in a time capsule, would future generations assume every child was a medal-winning, snuggly, veggie-loving genius? Or would they think kids went to bed too late, woke up too early and constantly fought with their siblings?”

Photo Credit: krossbow via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: krossbow via Compfight cc

This shows some of the updates parents are updating about. I feel like we have all seen parents who are constantly only posting the positives and others who often post about the negatives. Regardless of what people are posting about it seems that people are always quick to offer advice. The problem is that every parent parents differently. When you ask others for advice online you never know what you will get and you may even be on the receiving end of shaming or negative comments.

In Digital Identities: Who Are You When You’re Online?, Dayna Braunstein looks at why we sharent. Often we want to share the funny or cute things that are children do. We also tend to share information about the things we do most. For someone who plays sports they might update a lot about their activities, for someone who is at home with their kids all the time they may post more about their kids than others. Parents are also isolated a little more than non-parents so sharing online helps them feel connected. These are all reasons that contribute to our sharenting but we have to be sure we think about the emotional implications it may have later on for our children.

Dayna also discusses the purpose of an online profile. A profile is supposed to inform others about us including our interests, hobbies and even our values. When we overcrowd our profile with information about our children our profile becomes less about us and more about our children. Even though our children are a large part of our life we still have other roles and interests. I have always said that it’s important for me to continue working, playing sports and going out socially because I don’t want to be “just a mom”. There is more to my identity than just being a mom but does my profile reflect this? Looking over my profile I feel like it does, but maybe I’m the only one who sees it that way?

Dayna suggests that “the fundamental rule of online privacy is that you don’t directly write about other people without their permission because there’s a risk of negative consequences.” And she asks the following question:

“Isn’t it strange that this rule of courtesy doesn’t extend to children, who are unable to give informed consent to having their information shared publicly?”

Photo Credit: Stampendous via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Stampendous via Compfight cc

Why are we allowed to post about our children without their consent? Does being their parent give us this right? If we put ourselves in their shoes, how would we feel if a friend constantly posted about us without us knowing only to find out about it later on down the road? How will our children feel when they look back at what we have posted? I like to think that my children will enjoy looking back at the pictures because they provide memories of vacations, days at the park, accomplishments as well as struggles. I compare it to myself going to my parents and looking back at scrapbooks of pictures and keepsakes. Are my online albums the same as my parents physical photo albums they have? Have the times changed replacing physical scrapbooks and keepsakes with online ones? The only difference is that my scrapbooks at my parents aren’t shared publicly for the world to see. If my privacy settings are set to friends only does that make it okay? I know that I have been thinking more before I share things, but I don’t want to stop sharing because I do like to keep friends and family up to date with our life.

What are your thoughts on sharenting? Do you do it? What do you think your kids will think when they look at your profile years down the road? How does it compare to a physical photo album? I’d love to hear what you think.

Who are you? But more importantly, who am I?

There were are a lot of great articles assigned to read this week and they discuss topics that are very relevant my life right now.The theme of this week is mediated identities. How do we perceive ourselves and others online? Who controls what we see on our timeline? Who are we beyond the selfies and status updates? Some articles this week discussed heavy topics like break-ups, suicide, grief and depression. I didn’t realize that in a picture perfect social media world that such things existed (insert heavy sarcasm here). The sad reality is that beyond these “picture perfect” posts many people are struggling internally.

Photo Credit: Inspiyr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Inspiyr via Compfight cc

The first article I read that really hit me hard was Split Image. The reason it hit me so hard is because I can guarantee that there are so many others out there right now that are just like Maddison Holleran. So many others that are struggling on the inside but seem perfectly happy on the outside through a social media lens. Why is there so much pressure to portray ourselves as perfect, flawless, exceptionally happy? Why do we need to pretend that we are all of those things when in reality we are not? I believe it is because there is too much pressure from the media as well as our friends and family members who are only sharing the best of the best in their life. Too many people are busy comparing their lives to others. This is nothing new. People have always compared their lives to others.  The difference in society today is that we are bombarded on a daily basis with everyone’s picture perfect posts. Even the posts that are not picture perfect have an affect on us.

The Psychology of Healthy Facebook Use provides a simple solution to avoid negative health affects such as depression when using Facebook. The solution: stop comparing yourself to others.

“Because Facebook tends to serve as an onslaught of idealized existences—babies, engagement rings, graduations, new jobs—it invites upward social comparison at a rate that can make “real life” feel like a modesty festival.”

Comparing ourselves to others leads to feel insecure and insignificant. I know that I struggle with comparing myself to others on social media. I often see other post updates about their children who are they same as mine meeting milestones that my children have yet to accomplish. Sometimes I feel as though I may be doing something wrong or failing my children. I am quick to remind myself that everyone develops at different rates. Others are not the only ones who post updates about accomplishments. I also post accomplishments, celebrations, graduations and other “picture perfect” updates. When I post things I often ask myself why am I posting this? Is is to brag? Or am I simply sharing something I am proud of with family and friends? I in no way intend to brag or make others feel bad, but how can I be sure that what I am posting won’t make someone on my news feed feel that way?

I might not have to worry about the way I make others feel when I post something because thanks to the Facebook algorithm, my friend may not even be seeing things I am posting. What I think my friends and family are seeing can be quite different than what they are actually seeing. Some of my friends may be seeing different newsfeeds from me than others. In a lot of ways I am not in full control of what my friends and family are seeing on my behalf. The algorithms created by Facebook are based on our interactions with others, our interests and likes. It is interesting to think that my Facebook experience (as well as my google/internet experience) are controlled to a certain extent by these algorithms.

I also have no control over what friends post about me. I have asked friends and friend have asked me to take down a picture on Facebook or Instagram before. The picture may or may not contain something embarrassing but it may go against the online image that we are trying to portray. Maybe it had too much “arm fat” or too many “double chins”. Maybe the lighting wasn’t right or your outfit made you look fat. Whatever the reason, if it has been posted without my permission, I might have to ask my friends to take it down. But why should I have to take it down for those reasons?

The digital footprint that is created for a baby when their parents post on their behalf was also discussed in articles this week. I found Digital Birth: Welcome to the Online World to be very interesting. It was interesting to see where Canada sat in the rankings. I fell into three of the five categories having uploaded all the pictures described. I do not have a profile for either of my children or an email address. I do like to share pictures and updates about both of my kids so that family and friends can see them grow up. However, I try to avoid excessive updates and try to avoid updating hundreds of pictures because I don’t feel like people need to know every single thing my children are doing. I also understand that not everyone cares what my kids are doing on a daily basis. If I want to update grandparents with what my children are doing on a daily basis I can make a simple phone call or text them as opposed to putting it all over Facebook for everyone else to see. This is just my opinion and other classmates such as Branelle and Krystle have given theirs as well. I agree with Krsytle that sometimes making announcements on Facebook is so much easier than having to make a bunch of phone calls.

The last article that I thought was really interesting was in regards to break-ups in our digital world. So many of us post updates and share pictures of our relationships. Most people use the relationship status as an official indicator of our status. You may have heard the expression that it isn’t official until its Facebook official. But what happens when our relationship ends and we have a profile full of pictures and memories with our significant other? I have had to experience a break up in the digital world and I did exactly what Nick Bilton did (minus the hangover and bottle of whiskey). I deleted all my pictures, posts and even my Facebook account for a while. I ‘disappeared’ feeling that all eyes were on me until I felt that I could brave the world of Facebook again.

It is interesting to read about all the different ways social media affects our lives and in ways that are somewhat out of our control. How much of our life is really authentic? Both Jillian and Carolyn offer great commentary on this topic. Why can’t we post more about our struggles and issues? I think it’s because we don’t want people to feel like we are always complaining so we focus on the times that we look our best.