Social Media Maturity


I work with elementary school kids, first through fourth grade. At these ages kids aren’t just learning their ABC’s and 123’s, but they are also learning social behaviors and how exist outside of the world that they know: which is home. Their immaturity is evident in their behavior, which is routinely excused with these words: “they’re just little kids.”

I understand this fact, but the schoolhouse (as the old folks call it) is a place to learn what is acceptable behavior when you’re around other people.

I’ve noticed that there are certain behaviors that my first graders display in my classroom, that MANY ADULTS display online. Social media has become part of our daily lives, and though it may seem like a long time, it really hasn’t been that long. Facebook was established for college students in 2004, but wasn’t available to the public until 2006; which was also the same year Twitter launched. That was only 12 years ago.  I can remember baby boomers saying, “why would anyone care about what I’m eating for lunch?” Today many of those same people are calling their grandkids to show them how to “work Facebook.”

With social media being such a young medium, I want to share 5 behaviors grown folks should change as it relates to maturing online:

  1. Stop announcing everything

    “Mr. Murphy, I gotta pee!”

    “Mr. Murphy I got 3 stars on my game!” 

    “Mr. Murphy my daddy went to jail last night!”

    Kids looove to announce EVERYTHING! It doesn’t matter how random or personal it is, a first grader will stand proud and let everyone in the room know what’s on their mind. They have yet to learn that they don’t have to say everything that pops into their head, and they certainly don’t have to publicize it.

    However, adults do the same thing everyday online! We announce when we’re mad, sad, hungry, and frustrated. We announce when we get money, book a flight, buy a car, and (most annoyingly) we are about to take a “social media break”.  After doing all that, folks have the nerve to be upset because of the people “in their business.” Perhaps, at least to some degree, we should all go back and adopt the attitude of not wanting to tell folks such random things about ourselves, our day, or our lives. It is quite possible to share too much, so do a little more of your moving in silence.

  2. Only offer relevant commentary (and please stay on task!)

    I hate presenting my prepared lesson to my students , and upon mentioning a certain thing, a student will raise his or her hand to offer no relevant commentary on what I have just said. All I have to do is mention clicking on a picture of a dog and a student will raise his or her hand only to state, “I have a dog like that, but it’s brown, not black.”

    Really child?! That is irrelevant to the topic at hand. Can we please stay on task?!

    Adults do the same thing! I will post something my dad taught me in hopes that it will inspire others, and without fail someone will comment on how much they love my dad, and to tell him they said hello. Really?! That’s not really what the comments section is for. The comments section is for relevant commentary.

    (Not to mention the people who will begin a brand new conversation with someone else IN MY COMMENTS SECTION!!!)

  3. Don’t repeat everything that you hear

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve been cussed out by a kid. When I began in education, I was the ISS teacher. So you know I was dealing with the “bad kids” who didn’t mind using that language. This is perhaps how their moms and dads talk to and around them. They have heard these words and are just basically repeating what they’ve heard. Or worse yet, a student will approach another student about doing something sexual to them. Not only is this inappropriate, most of the time the child doesn’t even have a full understanding of what he or she is saying.

    Adults are the same way online! How many times have we killed John Witherspoon? We have shared so many fake celebrity deaths that whenever I hear of someone passing away, I will always fact check and verify: I don’t care if they have been on life support for 16 years.  Stop just hitting the share button without truly knowing that what you are sharing is accurate. You don’t want to be the one looking dumb, because you want all your friends to check their setting before Mark Zuckerberg starts to charge them for their profiles.

  4. Stop with the “Monkey Business”

    Children are notorious for doing what they saw others do: my elementary school teachers called it “monkey see, monkey do.” A kid will see another kid do whatever, thinks it’s cool, then turns and does the exact same thing, because they want the other kids to think their cool too.

    Just because you saw someone else doing it that doesn’t me YOU have to do it! A couple years back, we were doing every “challenge” that came down the pike. That’s nothing but that same juvenile “monkey business.” Going along with the trends, so people can virtually say, “hey … look at me! I’m cool too!”

  5. Please remember your “record”

    Kids are usually very shortsighted. They don’t realize that the things they do today, can have a profound effect on tomorrow. Most don’t even have a clue that teachers are documenting their behaviors in their permanent record, which is viewed by the administration and at least every subsequent teacher assigned the child. They believe, mostly because their moms tell them, that the new school year is a fresh start: not realizing that the new teacher has already formed an opinion about Lil’ Johnny, because Lil’ Johnny’s record and reputation precedes him.

    It may not seem like a “big deal” but your Timeline is a permanent record. You’re documenting about yourself every time you post online. I know some of you have “private” profiles, but when your profile is visible to your 5000 “friends”, I don’t know how “private” that is. As Katt Williams once said, “Don’t you know I can see you?”

    The things you post, share, and comment on speaks a lot about you. Potential employers are even checking your profiles, in order to determine whether they will hire you. It won’t matter how well you kill it at the interview, if you’re ratchet on Twitter and naked on Instagram. And no matter how unfair you may think it is, opinions will be formed, even if they don’t really know you.

© 2018 Derek J. Murphy Enterprises, and I AM KINGDOM Publishing, All Rights Reserved.

If you enjoyed this essay, please feel free to share it with your family, friends and social media to help spread this encouragement. Thank you for reading!

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