I signed up for my first Facebook account when I was 14 in July of 2007. For some reason I still remember it like it was yesterday; it’s funny what your brain holds onto. I was at my cousin’s house in northern Manitoba and we put in my information on his desktop computer in the living room. We were only allowed one hour of screen time (now kids age 2–4 average two hours of screen time a day) when at his house and the Playstation usually took up the majority of that time, so we didn’t put a lot of time into creating the profile. We input the bare minimum of information to get an account, breezed through the Terms and Conditions and just like that, I was forever in the Facebook servers.
A lot has changed in the past 11 years since that first account; a few birthdays, explosion of social media, internet of things in millions of households, and one company that has opened my eyes to the complexity and influence of these social media giants. I’ve been lucky enough that in my first role with a technology company, I happened to stumble across one that exemplifies the positives of social media. In an age where data collection is everything, (look up the huge data centers of Google and Facebook,) this experience has opened my eyes to how much my generation has to change how we interact on, educate and use social media.
I don’t think I am alone in how I thought about social media as just for fun, but I’ve learned a lot. My number one tip: Get Educated.
Get educated about the scope and influence of these tech giants. Learn about how your kids are going to be interacting on mobile devices and with who. Discuss what is safe to share on the internet and where it goes once it’s out there. Get educated on how you can teach your children to be responsible digital citizens and what it means to be a good digital citizen. Talk about how we can use our online interactions to create positive change and lift other up instead of the constant dragging of others on social media. Do you know how mobile applications make money? Figure out whether you’re supplying the product or you yourself are the product. Understand the magnitude of impact the digital world will play into our children’s’ generations and how to start them on the right path.
I’ll admit, at first I was pessimistic about what was happening in the social media landscape. I didn’t think the Big 4 (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat) were corrupting us. I didn’t feel we were being numbed to the constant barrage of negative messaging, bullying and slander that takes place regularly on these platform. Incidentally, I didn’t know the scope and amount of data these institutions collect and I was guilty of sharing pictures, locations and other information freely on these platforms. However, I’m happy to say I’ve changed, and although I don’t have children of my own, I understand the dangers and addictions social media poses to young minds.
It is a lot of information to comprehend and even now, I know some readers will be skeptical — I was at first. But I’m a 25 year old male that grew up around sports, in the (as much as I hate to say it) “frat boy” culture and I’ve still been able to change my thinking. Sure, I’m still on social media (I like to think less than the average) and have accounts for so many sites I could never recall them all. I’ve been on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, MSN Messenger (throwback) and so many more but now I’m slowly (very slowly) trying to wean off. Social media addiction is very real and I don’t think I’ll ever quit entirely, but becoming educated on these issues has positively impacted how I look at the digital landscape and will definitely influence my actions in the future.
I hope everyone will go out and get educated on this because I don’t think the world can handle another generation of narcissistic, pessimists trolling the web.
Jace is a Business Development Manager at Mazu and a lifelong sports fan. Working with multiple sports agencies, the world’s largest hockey scouting firm, and a franchise in the WHL, Jace paired his work experience with his Bachelor Degree in Marketing to reflect his passion for all things sport. He spends his days outdoors in Kelowna, but remains proud of his Flin Flon, Manitoba roots.