My mum and I make a good team. We present at conferences on lots of things, but recently we have started presenting about the idea of REAL and FAKE on social media. I know there are lots and lots of ideas about real and fake out there right now – many “famous” social media people are making Padlet after Padlet with resources for teachers.
But, we’ve been thinking about it in a different way.
Real and fake to us is about how people behave on social media (see my previous blog posts: #HeartFamily; #DubLit17; and #BlockandBloom). I’ve noticed there are more and more kids like me on social media, and especially on Twitter. The rule for Twitter is that you have to be 13 years old in order to have an account. Since I am not anywhere near 13 years old, my mom monitors my account. MONITOR is the key word.
My account is MY thinking, messages, and hopes for the world. I do my own tweets and hashtags. I make my own LivBits, and I decide when I am going to share them. If I want to use a swagged up picture, I make it. If I see something inspiring, I retweet it. If I have someone come after me and call me a “squeaky little <<BLEEP>>> n-word,” I know I can block and report them. Still, I am so grateful when I call on my #digitaltribe to help me, and they respond quickly with support.
That was the deal from the beginning for me to be on Twitter. I BEGGED my mom to let me have an account last July after people at the #ISTE conference in Denver, CO where I presented, kept asking for my handle. I knew that if I was on Twitter, I could share my message with an even bigger audience. I also knew I had to learn how to navigate such a “grown up” space.
What I’ve learned is many grown ups haven’t figured out much about their own digital identity, sometimes even if they present at conferences on it. I can tell by how they behave. I’ve also noticed that lots of the kids on Twitter are REALLY grown ups USING their kid’s account to get attention for themselves or a big idea they have.
I don’t necessarily think this is a bad idea IF people know that it is really a grown up doing the work. But, I am totally confused when other adults share the kid’s work AS IF it is REALLY a kid. This is where I wonder why more people aren’t thinking about REAL and FAKE in this way.
My mom explains it with the research. She says that most people on social media don't care because the research says we react to how something makes us FEEL rather than if it is TRUE. So, if a cute kid account is promoting something, then people are more likely to retweet it, and promote it, EVEN if it is NOT really a kid saying the message.
See why it’s confusing to a kid who is trying to REALLY figure things out on social media? If it’s not a REALLY A KID SAYING IT, you should make that clear.
People don’t because it CHANGES the message. People would rather believe that a REAL kid is saying it; otherwise, you’d have to admit that it’s more FAKE than TRUE.
How can you tell when it's a grown up and not really a kid? Lots of ways, but here are a few: when the words don't match how the kid speaks in real life or on videos; when posts pop up throughout the day and the kid goes to school; when the kid uses words but doesn't know what they mean; when retweets never show different "sides" of the kid. Those are just a few things, but the bottom line is that your posts define who you are, and most kids define themselves in loads of ways.
Lots of grown ups complain about how our President uses the words REAL and FAKE all the time. But, sometimes those are some of the same grown ups I see who are sharing FAKE kids on social media.
A few months ago, one of my followers called me her “digital conscience.” At first, I was unsure what that meant. Then, I began thinking about it more deeply and talking to her about it. I shared with her about my confusion around adults using fake kids in their work. She didn’t have any answers for me, but encouraged me to keep sharing my message because I am REAL.
So, consider this blog post a bit of your DIGITAL CONSCIENCE. If you share FAKE things, it makes you fake too. You can say that the message is powerful, but you should ALSO say it’s from a grown up USING a kid to promote it. If you don’t, you are part of the problem, not the solution.
Fake in our world is promoted by a lack of understanding, awareness and responsibility. I am realizing that ALL of these things take time, and most people don’t want to take the time to consider if a message is REALLY from a kid. I think this comes across as grown up code for “I don’t really care about the truth.”
Sometimes, I understand my digital identity more deeply than some adults do.
Thank you to #mypeople who always encourage me, take time to read my work, answer my millions of questions, and just believe in being REAL models of digital citizenship. I’m lucky you understand real and help me add to my understanding, too.
Keep reading, keep thinking, and, thank you for following LivBits.