Social Media as Portal or Pitfall?

Brad M. Griffin | Jan 12, 2012

Is social media ruining our kids?

In a NY Times article called Seeing Social Media More as Portal Than as Pitfall this week, the advent of social media and its culture-shifting implications is compared by some to the introduction of the telephone over a century past. The article (written by a pediatrician) notes that much of the early research and cultural commentary has been based on the danger paradigm that social media is the new root of all evil. Yet some wonder:

Though there are certainly real dangers, and though some adolescents appear to be particularly vulnerable, scientists are now turning to a more nuanced understanding of this new world. Many have started to approach social media as an integral, if risky, part of adolescence, perhaps not unlike driving.

In the 1970s Marshall McLuhan warned us that media forms are never neutral; they always shape us as we use them. In other words, its both the medium and the message that matter, and were naïve to think otherwise (read an interview I did with Shane Hipps nearly five years ago for a fascinating take on this). Clay Shirky of New York University is quoted in the article as saying, Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all harm model, one of the questions parents need to ask is, How is this going to interact with my childs personality?

If social media constitute the cultural waters our adolescents now swim in as they work out the big questions of identity, autonomy, and belonging, theres probably a whole slew of questions parents and youth workers alike should be asking. Its not all bad, but its not all neutral either.

What are the big questions you think we should be asking ourselves and the adolescents around us when it comes to social media as a portal for the adolescent journey?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and the series Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. Brad and his family live in Southern California.


More from this author

More From Us

Hello, WELCOME TO FYI
Join the community

Sign up for our email today and choose from one of our popular free downloads sent straight to your inbox. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about our sales, offers, and new releases.

Join the community

Sign up for our email today and choose from one of our popular free downloads. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about our sales, offers, and new releases.