If you are interested in the impact of social media on student learning, check out the paper. West discusses the positive impacts of new media, Web 2.0, and even interactive gaming on individual learning and the collective classroom experience. The rise of digital media (and all the nifty tools it has brought us) have to lead to increased communication and ease of information dissemination among groups, resulting in a lesser role of the traditional subject expert. The expert is no longer the gatekeeper to a topic area as enormous amounts of data from legitimate sources are just a few quick keystrokes away for nearly any of us with an internet connection.
Granted, nowadays s/he could just start a blog and be right back in the running as an “expert”. Web 2.0 laid the groundwork for the challenge to traditional hierarchical communication in organizations, with some of the more innovative companies creating in-house social media platforms to enhance and encourage collaborative communication among staff. Is the classroom next?
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Will the current generation growing up using peer-to-peer learning and crowdsourcing (albeit informally) daily truly learn in a traditional classroom? How can social media and networking platforms be used to enhance learning at all ages?
Social Media as a Component of Recovery
Last year, the report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents, suggested a link between regular use of social media and drug and alcohol use among teenagers. Researchers found that teens who used social media as part of their daily routine were more apt to use tobacco (10 percent compared to two percent), alcohol (26 percent compared to nine percent), and marijuana (13 percent compared to seven percent). This data could be used to classify social media itself as a risk factor for youth substance use, although a more nuanced view of the correlation may view it as another avenue of media messaging and peer interaction, rife with the potential for positive or negative outcomes.
A paper recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association focused on this duality in reporting preliminary findings on the potential of social media to influence drug and alcohol use in adolescents and teenagers. Survey data from the small sample of youth in substance abuse treatment showed the majority (66 percent) reporting that social media content regarding drugs stimulated their desire to use them. However, less than ¼ of the sample had accessed or posted content on Facebook or related social networking sites related to recovery or sobriety – a telling gap in the use of social media to promote and facilitate recovery.
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Youth drug treatment programs must move to harness the power of social networking and digital media as a part of the recovery process and culture – innovative use of technology in the behavioral health and social service sectors should not be limited to donor cultivation and marketing.