EC&I 831

We Were on a Break!

Social Media.  Love it or loathe it, there seems to be no escaping its influence.  I remember a time before the internet was even a thing… and all the stages in between. Some of my fellow classmates are probably too young to remember the good old days of dial-up!   ICQ, MSN Messenger, MySpace, … my goodness how far we have come!

Image result for social media
Does your personal device look like you are consumed by social media?

The negatives of social media can seem overwhelming.  It’s a bit like a vampire, sucking time and energy from our lives.  In the wrong hands, it can be dangerous – cyberbullying, fraudulent interactions such as catfishing or even identity theft.  It is scary to think about all of the personal information that we release just by picking up our phones and scrolling through Facebook or by having our locations tracked in Snapchat (which I do not have and will NEVER download) or … is there any danger with Twitter other than I can blink and an hour has gone by while I read people’s rants on politics or get chatting with colleagues in my PLN? 

Though I feel social media is a necessity for our cheer gym and for me as a personal networking tool, I worry about the privacy of my own data and that of our students who may not be the most savvy of digital citizens.  I feel pressure to answer messages right away or to be checking my social media platforms continually.  As a result, I schedule regular “power downs” and completely disconnect from all social media for at least 24-48 hours.  In the summer, I’ll often go longer.  Does anyone else require frequent breaks from social media in order to protect their own sanity?

But, despite the dangers and all of the not so wonderful things about it, social media can also be a fantastic way to connect with others across great distances.  It is a fantastic collaborative space where I can get inspired for my lessons, find new resources, and connect with other classrooms or educators around the globe.  My best friend met her husband in a chat room in 2000… so I do know that connections forged online can be lasting and meaningful.  The power at our fingertips is absolutely incredible when you think about it.

Professionally, social media is an absolutely critical component of my learning and growth as an educator.   As so many of my fellow EC&I classmates have said, the connections we have with one another online help to strengthen our practice.  We can be continually learning and growing professionally with access to MOOCs and the interactive nature of social media.  But that also can bring a bit of a negative – continually comparing oneself to others online and feeling inferior.  As my classmate Amanda said in her blog post, “When I see all of the creative, thought provoking, and engaging things that other teachers are doing in their classroom, it’s hard not to compare myself to them.”  I totally agree, Amanda.  And a small part of me wonders if somewhere out there, maybe someone feels that way about my posts.  I hope not… because I am fully in the “fake it until you make it your reality” school of life. 

Though the following infographic is slightly dated (RIP Google+), I found this to be pretty spot on for the pros and cons of some of the most popular social media.  Facebook, Instagram and Youtube are the ones I use the most, and Twitter now that I’m getting used to using it (still hate it on a mobile device).  

pros and cons of social media
Which platform is your personal favourite?

Probably the most incredible thing about the power of social media for me, so far, has been the ability to connect with others and grow in my confidence and abilities as a teacher.  An inquiry I jokingly made last semester when I was in EC&I 834 – “How the heck does a person become an online teacher around here?” – has led me to a slight change in my career this year, all thanks to social media and a few awesome people who pushed me in the proper direction.  

How has social media affected your personal or professional life in positive and/or negative ways?  I’d love to hear your stories!  

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11 thoughts on “We Were on a Break!”

  1. I like your idea of having regular periods of time away from social media. Although I don’t do it regularly, when I do take the initiative to take a break, I always come to the realization that it was a great idea and that I should do it more often. I often find myself so entrenched in social media that life whizzes past and I often miss important things. These breaks allow me to see other aspects of life and appreciate them. I often tell my students at school that at the end of your life, you will not regret spending time with your family or exploring the world. I highly doubt one will say to themselves: “I really wish I has spent more time on Facebook.”. A fantastic read! Thanks for the insight.

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  2. Kinda makes you think what we did with our time before social media. It definitely can be addicting and influence our lives in many ways. I like the fact that you schedule down time. Is this something you suggest to other in your life? How do they usually respond. I see social media especially Twitter essential to my growth as a professional as well. Also loved the infographic, Thanks for sharing your experience.

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    1. I definitely encourage people close to me to take frequent social media breaks. My kids and my students probably feel like I am always nagging them to “unplug” and to be present… but when they do it, they feel better. Especially if they unplug and then find a way to connect with nature! 🙂
      Thanks for reading, Dean!

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  3. Hi Kyla, great post! As you know, with the several classes with have taken with Alec, balance is KEY with all things social media/tech/digital/online (etc!). I really like that you have unplugged time! I have been trying to do this more and more. I recently found an interesting/new book called “24/6 – The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week”. It seems weird (but also not that shocking) that this book exists. We are so entrenched in the world of social media that there are essentially self-help books to aid people in stepping away from the digital realm.

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  4. A good friend of mine was recently hired to a fully online private school catered to high needs students and athletes. Seems crazy that this type of school is a reality. I am not a “techy” type, but I feel it is important to try and remain in the loop.

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    1. that sounds interesting. I know many of my online students are taking courses because they travel for sports, but I also have a lot of adult learners who are taking classes or upgrading classes so they can increase their employment opportunities or to get into a post-secondary opportunity. Thanks for reading!

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  5. Thanks for a great read! At one point last year I took a break from Instagram and Facebook for about 2 weeks, and it was actually refreshing! I spent less time scrolling and more time being productive. Social media has so many perks- like staying connected, gaining knowledge, and building community, but there are also benefits from taking social media breaks. I like that you make it a priority to reset and take a break from the online world. You have inspired me to do the same, but maybe I’ll wait until our semester is over so I don’t miss out on anything 🙂 Thanks again!

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    1. I agree, Amanda… taking breaks is hard sometimes because we don’t want to miss out on anything, particularly when it comes to our grad classes! But you better believe that as soon as the semester is over – BREAK TIME! 🙂
      Thanks for reading!

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