Technology has grown with time, and the increase and demand for it are high. In modern times, we can barely survive without technology. I recall how only a few people had access to technology some years back. I had my first mobile device at the age of fourteen and laptop at eighteen years. I used my mobile device for only phone calls and laptop for only school work. I barely spent time with these devices. But that is not the case anymore. The number of hours I spend on my devices shocks me sometimes, and I believe this is the case with most people, especially teenagers.
Technology has brought a culture where we rely mostly on social media for communication. We build identities and join with many people over the world trying to connect and feel belonged. For instance, we have social media like Instagram, and Snapchat, where some people only want to present their best self and flashy lifestyle. There is also TikTok, which is one of the fastest-growing communities where people create content and get others to imitate. There is so much fun on some of these platforms that we forget to protect ourselves.
Michael Welsch at the Library of Congress presents on YouTube big numbers and celebration of webcam where people sings and dances. This was the case of the teenager Amanda Todd, until her story changed. Networking is necessary but staying safe is also important. From Amanda Todd’s story, we learn that the stalker had more than eighty-six Facebook accounts, and she was not the only person he had been blackmailing. The sextortion of Amanda Todd is an example of some of the challenges associated with the use of social media.
Also, in a video presented by Michael Welsch at the Library of Congress, he describes a YouTube community where the people share a value of oneness. Thus, when someone creates an identity as Lonelygirl15, and people suspect it to be fake, they question the authenticity of YouTube. There is a clear case of a lot of fake identities on social media. You never know whom you are talking to or who is watching. Everybody wants to participate and access content through various networks, especially teenagers.
It is for this reason that we need to educate students on the culture of digital participation, digital literacy, the benefits and challenges involved in using these platforms and tools. According to Bill Gates, “technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”
I believe we can support our students to build their digital literacy and participation by incorporating digital literacy and participation into school curriculums, which will, in turn, lead to online safety and the development of digital skills. For instance, as educators, we can adopt Bloom’s digital taxonomy to help students achieve higher thinking skills in terms of digital technologies.