Cultivating Curious Minds Blog

This blog on the Cultivating Curious Minds website provides information, strategies technology tools, and resources for educators on increasing innovation in the classroom, international education, and effective professional development

Teens and Social Media Use


I’m currently taking a course on Digital Citizenship for my Masters in Education program. This week, we watched the British documentary In Real Life which outlined the social and emotional impact of participating in social networks on teens and youth. The documentary outlined how participating online impacts every aspect of day to day life ranging from perceptions of relationships, to communication to daily task.

Though the findings of the film were unsurprising, the documentary focused primarily on the negative aspects of technology use. In a quantitative study conducted by Lee (2009), he discovered that although there are inherent risks to internet use the rise of the internet also plays a role in positive social development for teens and youth. A large part of being a teenager is the discovery of identity and the rise of the internet is playing a role in this endeavor (Lee, 2009).

We all remember the cliques of high school...more often than not it was not until adulthood that we discovered our “people”. However, this is changing for the youths of today. The internet provides unprecedented opportunities for teenagers to connect and learn from others who share their interests such as artists, musicians, and political or social justice activists.

Furthermore, the spread of the internet has led to a rise in Global initiatives such as One Laptop for Every Child which uses ICT to provide education and development, subsequently transforming the lives of those in lower socio-economic areas of the world (Toyama, 2011).

In my capacity of ICT Educational Specialist, I seek to educate students on the dangers of technology use while inspiring them to use technology in a transformative manner. The reality is, technology use is a part of the daily lives of our students. It is important that they learn how to behave responsibly online and use technology in positive ways such as tools for creating and developing global connections. Social media provides the opportunities to transform teaching in learning in ways not previously possible, such as having an expert in the field connect live with your class, or participating in a Mystery Skype with a classroom halfway around the world.

More often than not, there is fear mongering surrounding technology use. There is a hesitation with using phones in classes and allowing students to participate in social media as course components. In my opinion, we need to start speaking to students in their language, which happens to be the digital world. It is only when we start understanding the perspective of the student and incorporating their interests in technology in the classroom that we can truly educate them on both the negatives and positives of technology and social media use.


Lee, S.J. (2009). Online Communication and Adolescent Social Ties: Who benefits more from internet use? Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 509-531. Doi: 10.1111/j1083-6101.2009.01451.x

Toyama K. ( 2011 ) Technology as amplifier in international development . Proceedings of the 2011 iConference  . Seattle, Washington, USA, ACM , 75 – 82 .