Most teenagers view technology as a way to enhance their social lives. They do not see as it as a way to learn, to engage, and to build positive relationships. Technology is seen as a huge ocean of information, with each of us swimming along individually. However, this notion is completely false. All of us are in this enormous ocean, touching elbows and swimming past one another.
Most students see themselves as the individual, and that their movements do not create ripples. For this reason, there is often mean-spirited and abuse people online. They throw out demeaning comments left and right with no second thoughts as to how these actions might genuinely hurt someone else. There is a sense that the individual is invisible, and that they aren’t actually insulting someone. The truth is, there is a person behind the screen–both sides of it.
So how can we get students to use technology to build each other up, and not break each other down?
That is the million-dollar question.
It starts with helping students use technology to foster their passions with education as a foundation. Most students do not realize that social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest can be used for informational purposes. Now doesn’t that sound fun? To be honest, not really. It didn’t sound fun to me when I first started. It wasn’t fun for me until I actually figured out what I was passionate about and began to use all of those resources to both contribute and learn.
Students need to be shown this. They need the opportunity to explore their passions–not just limited to school. Responsibility grows from maturity, and networking maturely comes from understand passions, as well as the feelings of others.
When students find what they are passionate about, they can begin to build others up. When I first started blogging, I was very insecure and anxious about sharing my thoughts and opinions. Only after people began liking and commenting on my posts, did I relax and enjoy sharing. Because I myself was vulnerable, I wasn’t about to post a rude comment on someone’s blog. I knew how it felt, and I also knew how great it felt to have someone truly appreciate my hard work.
When students can realize this, I think is when the learning truly begins. In order to use technology to build relationships, we must first put ourselves into in the uncomfortable position of sharing our thoughts. Only then will we truly appreciate another’s.