Students Sans (Social) Media – UPDATED

According to a new ICMPA study, most college students  are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world. Source: A Day Without Media | http://withoutmedia.wordpress.com.

Knowing this, should we, as programmers, promote this behavior by writing applications that enable easy-to-publish, multi-modal content? Currently, I’m under pressure to ¬†(or let a CMS) produce content in at least 4 modes. All of these modes are easily available through browsers, phones or mobile devices. As a programmer of multi-modal content, sometimes I feel like I provide the path to a media-addicted future.

I suppose we could play devil’s advocate for a minute and say, “if that’s where their focus lies, that’s where we need to go.” I can agree with this because I think the battle is lost if you want to fight media and make kids read paper books and go to class rooms and write with wooden pencils. That is so 20th century to them – and most of them have no concept of the 20th century.

Now, on the other hand, what if social media is not only harmful (addictive), but it can actually lowers communications skills. Is it worth risking addiction to a mind-numbing medium to test, challenge or enlighten students?

“I defend to the highest possible level that today’s youth are not addicted to social media and networking, the Web, and online media,” Mr. Whittaker wrote. “We do spend far more time on Facebook and accessing the Web for leisure use and socializing, but that is part of the natural progression of tertiary, noncompulsory education socialization.” Source: Students Denied Social Media Go Through Withdrawal | The Chronicle of Higher Education

This last quote brings up another issue entirely, health of modern, media-addicted children. It is impossible to ‘facebook’ (a new verb) or watch TV or do any media related activity when you are outside riding your bike or skating or playing. Kids are getting obese and unhealthy at an alarming rate. They’ve taken the lifestyle of ‘couch potato’ to a whole new level. But that kiddies, is for another blog – go out and play, DVR your TV program, tell your Facebook fans you’ll out live them.