Sweden’s Largest Facebook Study is a very interesting read. A lot of what this recent report states are things we may have guessed or assumed about Facebook (FB) and its over 845 million users.
Facebook is used for connecting with friends & family and “as a personal showcase”. It’s the “showcase” part that is interesting because we arguably can not help comparing our lives to others. So do you compare yourself to others on Facebook? What are your status updates about? Do you ever feel depressed about what you see or what others write about or post on your wall? Are you addicted to Facebook?
I like Facebook! It allows me to connect with close friends and family all over the world. It’s easy to upload photos which the grandparents of my children seem to really appreciate. I like to take my turn at a Scrabble game via FB every couple of days too.
There are some things on FB which I dislike. I don’t like all the apps and I don’t subscribe to most of them.
Some unfortunate pitfalls I have witnessed personally about Facebook:
Last year I remember hearing my neighbour on her phone in the backyard crying and yelling about something someone (I’m guessing the person on the other end of the phone conversation) had written on her Facebook page. I was outside hanging out my washing and my neighbour was angry and she sounded very upset. I couldn’t help but wonder how all this trauma could occur from a Facebook post! Obviously some people like to provoke others on Facebook. I believe I have avoided this type of Facebook abuse by keeping my Facebook “friends” to a minimum (mainly very close friends & family); I am not trying to collect Friends on Facebook.
- I know of many people who are offended when another FB user “deletes” them from their friends list. Does deleting a FB “friend” automatically mean that you are NOT friends in real life? I would disagree.
- I have also personally had a friend tell me that my life on FB looked “perfect” and so it made her jealous and therefore she had stopped contacting me for a while. The lack of contact had hurt me and had been a bit confusing to deal with at the time. Don’t we all know that people will usually only post and “showcase” the good stuff in their lives? Maybe not. Why would you want to post about the boring, mundane, trivial or depressing moments in your life?
Cyberbullying on Facebook, especially for school-aged FB users
What about the teenagers or young adults in our schools that are using Facebook? Does the “showcase” of their lives on FB give a distorted view to others and does that impact them negatively?
I have personally seen and also read of instances where teenagers post unflattering photos of FB friends and then the rest of their friends have “fun” posting “funny”, arguably hurtful, comments about the photo…..this is a form of cyberbullying! The person who is in this photo could ask to delete the photo but (as in many bullying & cyberbullying issues) this could lead to more ridicule so they just hope it passes soon instead. Cyberbullying and bullying can negatively impact teaching and learning and so it is important that teachers are aware of these issues, EVEN if the cyberbullying is occurring outside of school hours.
As a pre-service teacher and parent there are some things that concern me about FB use. As with most ICT, I believe that understanding the impact of your web presence and also having knowledge of netiquette and your own digital footprint is an important part of your digital citizenship. Teaching in schools today should include discussion and activities about digital citizenship.