With the increasing fluidity of human interaction with technology expansion, the scope of digital rhetoric has been inevitable. The latter has a knock-on effect on the path when it comes to children’s schooling.
Recently, a US-based school San Mateo County has filed a lawsuit against YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat, alleging that it’s purposefully designed to be addictive and they are "knowingly" creating a mental health crisis among students. As per the lawsuit, the companies use artificial intelligence and machine learning to intentionally design "their platforms to be addictive and to deliver harmful content to youth".
It is an individual’s responsibility to choose whether to use these platforms or not so where do schools come in? Does that mean schools can do the same and stem the rot, which can also be termed as entertainment and knowledge, or simply allow social media apps to take control of lives.
We at The Free Press Journal spoke to a psychiatrist who is also the director of Behavioural Science Network, Dr. Mirchandani Dayal who said: “Banning social media in schools is not the solution as kids find various ways to access it. Also, when you ban something it becomes forbidden, and children’s who are more at risk gravitate toward it, in order to achieve the thrill of doing something forbidden. The curriculums, activities, and the teacher’s stance will determine what children will take home at the end of the day. Guidance is the solution”.
Ironically while social media apps can ban users for various reasons, users can also stop or delete the app but the point is how many really delete an app after it has been uploaded.
While speaking to Dr. Beena Nayaken, Principal at VIBGYOR High, Goregaon she said "Today’s students are digital natives as they are inundated with technology, which is an essential tool in their everyday lives. With proper guidance, mentoring & and counseling, students can acquire new skills, discover new realities and experiences. It also poses some serious challenges like identity theft, cyberbullying, and social isolation.”
She added;” Social media platforms are blocked for access to school computing devices at VIBGYOR. We make efforts to counsel parents and students alike to use social media platforms in a healthy and safe manner."
A statement from Radhika Varia, the principle of OES International School, Vashi throws light on another aspect, “Social media has had a more adverse impact on students than benefits. There is an increase in mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and pressure that is seen among students. Avoiding and refraining it for use in school will be beneficial”.
While Social media allows teens to create online identities, gain knowledge and build social networks does it also distract them, disrupt their sleep and create peer pressure?
We spoke to a few students to have their views on this.
17 Year old Ananya Das from Mother’s Public School, Bhubaneswar says, “While using social media for a considerable amount of time, we try to adhere to the social definition of being perfect (which actually is just an imaginary term). When we are unable to do so, we often demean ourselves which is unhealthy for our mental well-being. It constantly takes effort to come out of such a situation. However, unlike other apps, YouTube is widely used by students for fast education purposes but it seems pointless and inutile”.
Another student Samriddhi Agarwal from Royal Global School, Guwahati states, “Social media apps do harm us mentally as it gets addictive but they can also be beneficial if used wisely. Along with being a distraction, it also serves as a great learning tool for us. I’ve often learned new skills from content available online such as drawing, dancing, etc.”
Samriddhi adds that if banned it will have a negative effect on learning and the rate of productivity will decrease.”
There is no foolproof solution to this issue. Whether banning will work or not is yet to be proven. Whether schools should ban or place jammers is an ongoing debate. Parents should ideally have the last say in this decision but in many cases, they don’t. Social media is almost a ‘must’ for every student these days at least in the urban landscape.
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