On June 16, 2011, the PEW Internet & American Life Project published a new report titled “Social networking sites and our lives.” According to PEW, this represents the “first national survey of how the use of social networking sites (SNS) by adults is related to people’s overall social networks.” Some of the study’s significant findings include:
- The number of those using social networking sites has nearly doubled since 2008 and the population of SNS users has gotten older.
- Facebook users are more trusting than others.
- Facebook users have more close relationships.
- Facebook users get more social support than other people.
- Facebook users are much more politically engaged than most people.
- Facebook revives “dormant” relationships.
- Social networking sites are increasingly used to keep up with close social ties.
- MySpace users are more likely to be open to opposing points of view
Building on thoughts shared in my post Friday, “Convivial Technologies, Storychasers and Digital Storytelling,” I’m wondering if and/or how SNS (social networking sites) can serve as “convivial influences” in our lives? Certainly SNS allow us to maintain more connections to more people, and allow us to maintain more social connections on a regular basis. I’m curious about the effect the use of SNS has on our face-to-face relationships, however. Have you noticed how easy it is for people to get out their phone when we’re out for lunch or dinner? I am increasingly aware of my own behavior when it comes to my iPhone and SNS like Twitter, when I’m out with my family and at other times.
I’m convinced we need to be thoughtful, intentional, and deliberate in our uses of SNS. That thoughtfulness includes asking the question, “Is this a good time to have my phone out?” when I’m having a meal or in a face-to-face social setting. The psychological allure of a smartphone and SNS apps can be powerful. So can text messaging. This isn’t something I’m pretending to have a complete handle on, either individually or as a parent, but it IS something with which I’m certainly wrestling. I know the issues here are important, and the reflexive / natural way to act with SNS technologies tends to NOT support the cultivation of face-to-face relationships. Screens often separate us and become relational dividing walls between people when we’re together. To be used in a “convivial” fashion, I don’t think SNS should be used this way.
Several years back, I registered a domain for the concept of “digital discipline” which I’ve since let expire. My April 2007 post, “Need for digital discipline in SL and RL,” I wrote about some of these ideas:
Digital discipline. We all need it, and I think we’ll be needing more of it in the years to come. Conversations about digital discipline are worth having, whatever our age or level of technology use. I know plenty of folks who spend WAY too much time watching television (in my admittedly highly-subjective opinion.) Technically speaking, most television signals today remain analog and are not actually “digital,” but the transition is on to digital television as well as digital radio. I consider conversations about television watching habits to fall within the definition of conversations about digital discipline. Digital discipline means being intentional about one’s use of technology options and tools. Digital discipline doesn’t prescribe a fixed amount of time for everyone to spend watching TV, playing video games, interacting with others in SL, or anything else, but it DOES suggest that everyone should strive to be thoughtful and intentional in the way they expend heartbeats with digital things.
For SNS to be used in convivial ways, I contend we need to exert healthy and frequent doses of “digital discipline.” I’d like to find a simple litmus test for deciding personally whether a particular use of technology is appropriate or not for the context at hand. One idea might be, “Does my use of this technology right now support or detract from the development of convivial relationships?” That probably could be stated in simpler terms.
What do you think? How can we intentionally navigate our personal uses of technologies like SNS and help members of our family do the same? As this recent PEW report highlights, many relational benefits are possible with SNS. There are lots of pitfalls, however, and I’d like to find better ways to navigate around those in the years ahead.
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On this day..
- What Makes an Effective Technology Committee in Education (v.2) - 2012
- Limewire in the classroom and the principal's office - 2010
- First YouTube video published directly from the iPhone GS (Irrelevant Paper) - 2009
- links for 2008-06-20 - 2008
- Podcasting facilities to be provided at NECC 2008 - 2008
- Changing the Face of Our Educational Practice Using Web 2.0 Technologies - 2007
- Building Schoolwide Online Collaboration - 2007
- Megamedia in Your Pocket: Nuts and Bolts of iPods, A/V and Education - 2007
- Reinventing PBL - 2007
- Audio Production, Music Composition and MIDI Across the Curriculum and the Globe - 2007