By Maria Aixala
Bi-lingual children know instinctively, even if they are not consciously aware of it, that there is more than one way to interpret the world.(1) In my bi-lingual life as a mom of a 13 year old girl on Facebook this observation takes on a whole new meaning!!
I welcome innovation and progress. I recognize the benefits of technological advancement and social networking; however, I am starting to believe that these tools of 21st century living may not be very healthy for my teenage daughter. I believe children at this (already challenging) age are meant to be learning and developing their interpersonal skills, their social skills and their sense of values.
In my experience, Facebook complicates developing these necessary skills. My daughter creates a “virtual persona.” She communicates and presents herself in ways she might not otherwise because she is not face-to-face with these “friends.” She is influenced by “friends” (whom she does not truly know) and chooses to “like” things simply to feel a sense of engagement and belonging. This virtual environment pulls her out of and away from a more organic developmental process that for centuries has occurred in a physical environment.
While language can offer us more than one-way to interpret the world, I am afraid that Facebook offers my teenage daughter too vast an interpretation of the world. A world she too easily manipulates and directs, a world where she has a starring role, a world that functions parallel to ours but in many ways is not a reflection of it. Manipulation, self-centeredness and narcissism are not what we should strive to multiply in our world and yet they are very real byproducts of her exposure to Facebook.
Let us begin a dialogue on the subject. How does FB affect your teenager?
Let us learn from each other. What works and what doesn’t? Are your concerned? Let us help each other understand how to coexist with the new media while not letting our teenagers go astray. Let us unite and be a force that recognizes and cultivates the power within our children and not the power that continues to gain strength and importance outside of them.
Standing on firm ground in the era of multimedia messages, imagery and symbols is tough. Tougher still is bearing witness to the new world that unfolds before my 13 year old daughter and I – a reality that makes me take a very deep breath, bite my lip and do my best to hold back the tear that carries the SOS signal I am transmitting today.
MAD 4 CHANGE
(1) Menendez, Ana. The Bilingual Imagination: Searching for the Real and the True. Poets & Writers. January/February 2011.