Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University
Our world is becoming increasingly more technology driven. While we understand that everyone does not have equal access to the same levels of technology one cannot deny the fact that much of teaching and learning today is driven by technology. Even as I write this article today we are under stay at home orders and are being compelled to practice social distancing in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. This has caused households around the world to be forced into homeschooling. As I write this article I can hear my wife (My much better half) educating my second grader and my teenager on subjects ranging from Spanish to elementary language arts. In this way we must not fight technology but we must embrace it. We can think about how technology and social media in particular can impact our participation in our democracy and civic engagement. The National Council for the Social Studies has provided information in an article entitled Youth, Social Media and Digital Civic Engagement that students can use social media to effectively be involved in civics. Here some articles that can help explore how social media can be used to effectively practice civic engagement and get more involved in the democratic process.
More Resources on using the Social Media and Civics Engagement
Social Media: Driving or Diminishing Civic Engagement?
Public attitudes toward political engagement on social media
How Social Media has Transformed Politics and Redefined Civic Engagement
Social media increases civic engagement among users
Lesson Plans on Civic Engagement
Digital Literacy and Youth Civic Engagement
Creating Active Citizens: Ideas for Civic Engagement Lessons
Teaching Civic Engagement
Civic Engagement Lesson Plans
Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers
Using Social Media to Participate in a Democracy
Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
I completely agree that our world is becoming increasingly more technology driven. In fact, this was proven to everyone when the pandemic hit a year ago and we all had to revert to working from home as well as online learning. (I can’t believe it has been a year!) You couldn’t have said it better when you said, “in this way we must not fight technology but we must embrace it”. After being allowed to go back to my placement this semester, I have seen technology be used for the better in the classrooms. There are of course times that it’s not necessary nor needed, but at other times it enhances the learning and even alters the curriculum to a specific student. With that being said, this is a great opportunity for the students to learn and be involved in civics. It’s an opportunity for people to engage through social media as well as connect and contribute to their community.
In all of my years in school thus far, I would have never expected that a learning would ever become virtual. Online schooling? Yes, its just student teaching themselves at their own pace and completing their work by a deadline. Virtual schooling? No way. I think it can be very useful especially those students who may not have a stronger immune system to withstand an illness or virus. I never really put much thought into all the technology that we have available to us as students, teachers, and parents. Most of us use technology without thinking twice about it. For instance, cellphones, tablets/iPads, computers, laptops, and various other things. Imagine if we didn’t have these things and a global pandemic was going on. How would these students learn? How would others be able to file for unemployment? How about those that need to do research for politics? None of this would be possible without the use of the technology we have. We all need to appreciate the things that we have that allow us to stay connected, to learn/educate, to play games, and so much more.
Technology has really become the center of the next generations life. As educators, it is important that we are teaching our students that social media can be used for more than just social. While adults are trying to figure out where the camera button is on an iPhone, young people are scrolling for miles on the internet taking in content, reposting and commenting while each platform begins to take data on us so it can give us more content that would interest us. While this does sound like a good pro, we also need to teach our kids right from wrong. Just because our favorite celebrity supports a candidate in the up coming election doesn’t mean we should automatically take their word for it. We need to still teach students to research, educate themselves, and speak up on their platform. Instilling in them the confidence to form appropriate arguments with facts can make big strides on twitter alone for awareness. How amazing is it on this day in age, we have a place where we cannot be silence about what we believe in.