Generation Like asks the question: What happens when the traditional teenage quest for identity and connection occurs online? We’ve all been there, wanting to belong, wanting to be part of the in crowd, wanting to be liked. Today, there’s a quantitative factor to being liked. Thank you, technology?
The number of likes, views, followers, favorites, or sparks give teenagers a quantified image of how popular they are. As the documentary discloses, children do not have a basic understanding of how their likes are actually linked to advertising agencies and marketing companies. Most teenagers (and pre-teens) believe that by being out there, they are creating a social network and becoming part of a community. What is actually happening is that they are being used by the corporations. And, ultimately, children are alone and still waiting for their peers’ approval.
Good educators want students to learn how to think for themselves. We are also compelled to keep our students safe from harm. We have to make them aware that the big bad wolf we used to think was lurking in the shadows may actually literally be in their hands, counting every click of their like buttons. Even the very young children have access to smartphones and happily click away while their parents are busy driving or otherwise occupied.
Teachers need to learn how to use technology to truly empower their students. We need to make students aware that their actions have consequences (I’m not even going to go into Steven the skateboarder’s antics). Perhaps, technology can help teach those subtle truths without overtly preaching morals. Teachers can make their lessons more fun and interesting to students using games and programs that are readily available on the internet. Maybe, by using apps and programs that students can like, teachers can actually drive advertisers to promote products (and messages) that really encourage community and the sense of belonging.