Last Sunday, I was lucky enough to be an audience member on BBC 1 live debate show “The Big Questions” presented by Nicky Campbell. It was filmed at Bath Spa University, and we had to arrive bright and early at 08.30 in preparation for going live at 10am. The topics under discussion; “Is Social Media beyond control? And should we presume consent for organ donation in England?” ( Watch it on BBC iplayer, episode 8, series 11 ) PAs a former Media lecturer, with a degree in Media & Communications, and as a keen user of social media, I had strong opinions on the first question.
I believe social media should ofcourse have privacy and security settings, in order to protect those who are more vulnerable- but it should not be censored or banned. I strongly believe we should be teaching media studies, including social media and internet safety to children from primary school age. It should be part of the national curriculum.
Children are given computer tablets to play on, from as young as 2 or 3 years old- they are watching TV and movies, listening to music and seeing advertising around them from the minute they can focus their eyes, yet we don’t formally encourage debate or discussion around how these images and this information is processed, until secondary school. It is so important that children are encouraged to develop critical thinking, so they do not take things they see on main stream media or on social media platforms at face value.
They must learn about media ownership and control, the history and development of media and social media internet companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter. They should consider the relationship between self esteem, self image and photo shopped selfies on instagram. Question the authenticity of search engine rankings, debate the use of bots, discuss the devastating effect of internet trolling and cyber bullying , and ofcourse understand the importance of e-safety.
The online world is developing at a rate we can hardly comprehend. Last year we first became aware of the term fake news, now there is AI facial recognition software which can make it look as though anyone is saying anything. Voice recognition programmes like ‘Lyrebird’ which can do the same things for a person’s voice. In essence it would be possible for a semi skilled IT whizz to make a realistic video of Trump saying he’d just fired a nuke at Russia - and before we know it - WW3. It’s scary stuff, but not if we remain vigilanty self aware and inquisitive. Don’t believe everything to read, see or hear!
I showed my kids “The Matrix” in order to spark a debate on Artificial Intelligence, the holographic universe theory and deep mind. In hindsight , it was beyond them aged 6 & 8. Harry was sad that so many watermellons got splatted needlessly in the street shooting scene, and Rowan said it inspired him to make a movie about nits living on someone’s head. I’ll try again when theyre older!
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)