Monday, February 12, 2018

Dr. Laura and the Dilemma of Facebook

[This is from July 2013, but I'm bumping it up because it is relevant.]

While I'm a huge fan of Dr. Laura Schlessinger and her media offerings, and agree with her on many important things, I do have my quibbles with what she tells listeners/callers. Many of those quibbles have to do with technology.

Dr. Laura started off her show yesterday talking about social media, and what not to put on your Facebook page (you know, pictures of you getting drunk… stuff like that). She again took the opportunity to say that people shouldn’t have personal Facebook pages. If her listeners didn’t, however, they wouldn’t be able to comment on her show’s Facebook page, which daily solicits comments on various topics.

What Dr. Laura may not know, because she makes it clear she doesn’t have a personal Facebook page, is that people can adjust their settings so that their Facebook pages are completely private. And yeah, I know there may be an occasional breech by a hacker, or an error on the part of Facebook, or one of those annoying deliberate overhaul of the settings Facebook seems to do every few months and it might “default” people into having things “public” that they want private. Even so, people can be limited about what they put into their Facebook to begin with.

In the third hour, she got a call from parent asking when a child should be allowed to be on social media. Dr. Laura said "18". She said it doesn't hurt the child to NOT be on social media.

I disagree. It can definitely hurt the child, because if someone isn’t familiar with current, commonly used ubiquitous technologies, it could be limiting to everything from their education, to keeping up on current events, their access to information, their employment, and their careers.

Dr. Laura said that if it hurts not having it, then every generation before this one would have been damaged. She has often said previously “I didn’t have an iPad or smart phone when I was growing up. Somehow I survived.”

This can be said about ANY technology or innovation when it comes to previous generations, from television to radio to automobiles to telephones to bicycles to public libraries to spears with sharpened stones as tips.

Technology is a tool. It can be used for good or ill. Humanity moves on, and if people are not going to avail themselves of widely used technologies, they can be left behind.

Think about this. The typical modern office uses desktop and/or laptop computers and usually smart phones and tablets as well. A business or most other organizations are going to have websites and quite often a dynamic presence in social networking services. If you were hiring someone for a job in such an office, all other things being equal about two candidates for the job, are you going to hire an Amish person who has no previous experience even with anything electrical, or the person who knows how to use social networking to the benefit of the office’s mission?

Even looking for a job has changed. Back “in the day”, Dr. Laura would have had to pound the pavement to submit applications, after finding job listings in newspapers. If someone stuck to that now, they’d be very limited compared to the person who can find AND apply for jobs anywhere in the world from their own home.

Yes, some people reveal too much online or do stupid or evil things with social networking. But did you know that, unless you have purchased your home in a revocable trust (something most people don’t do) it isn’t hard for people to find out where you live? That can be dangerous. So do we all go live in caves?

Parents should allow their kids to have a limited, monitored presence on social media so that the kids can learn how it works and what it can do. One of the benefits for me is that I have had edifying conversations with people I would not have otherwise met. A parent may worry that their kid will seek a work-around to subvert the monitoring by their parents, but if that’s the child’s mindset, they’re probably going to use social media anyway through a library or their friend’s house and there’s a bigger problem going on anyway.

ADDITION October 26, 2016: There's nothing wrong with adults already established or retired from their careers having Facebook accounts, either. Facebook is, basically, a web organization tool, bringing together many things that used to be offered by different services and tying them together. It can help small businesses, it can help families and friends stay in touch, and it can help people stay organized, Nobody has to place any private information there for public consumption. Dr. Laura will tell people to pick up the phone and call people or drive to see them in person. There is not always possible, and on Facebook a group of people can be engaged in a way that simply wouldn't be possible in-person. Facebook and  other online tools should not replace in-person interaction. But they can augment them and "extend" them in beneficial ways. Technology marches on, like it or not.

I've written about Dr. Laura and technology before, here, here, here, here, and here.

1 comment:

  1. I agree in a way with you. I don't think if a 16 year old doesn't have Facebook that they are losing or missing out on certain lifelong lessons or knowledge.
    Facebook age restrictions is 13+.
    I definitely don't think anyone under 13 should have a page, but even 13 is young to me. However no matter the age, with certain privacy settings and parental monitoring it may be acceptable.
    Personally I think an acceptable age is 16+.
    I had a MySpace at age 14. But not a Facebook until 18, when I went to college - because you were only allowed to sign up then if you had a college email address.


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