MPA Blog

Children and the Dangers of Social Media 

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The CEO of Apple won't let his nephew on social media.   

Sean Parker, one of the earliest investors in Facebook said in an interview late last year that Facebook "...literally changes your relationship with society, with each other ... It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains.

"The thought process ... was all about: 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'  And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you ... more likes and comments.  It's a social-validation feedback loop..."

Another early Facebook executive had this to say: "The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. And it's not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem." 

Facebook is not inherently destructive, but it does knowingly exploit human vulnerabilities.  Just like television and advertising do to viewers, just like politicians and rhetoric do to voters, just like anything where power shifts away from the individual. People can be manipulated.  Especially children.  

So is the answer the elimination of Facebook, television and mindless rhetoric?  Or is the answer within? Montessori firmly believed that if children were given the freedom to do for themselves, they would wind up thinking for themselves.  She would have said that children would not likely be cyberbullied, because they would recognize others' opinions are not as important as their own.  That's what self-actualization is all about.  Of course, not every child, even in a Montessori school, is as strong as a sequoia.  But Montessori students stand a far better chance against the gales of human opinions.  

That doesn't mean, however, our children are not at risk.  No matter who they are, or where they go to school, children cannot stand against forces of which they have no concept.  Whether its television, Facebook, or just the Internet in general, children need help navigating those currents.  And if we don't help them, then just like children on a raft atop riptides, they could be driven out to sea.  

Facebook Founder on Its Destructive Potential

Tech Industry on Social Media

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