My family has embraced social media.

Christo connecting his cellphone to the speaker

I am really chuffed with myself because I am only on the periphery of the Lost Generation - the adults in this modern world. Many of us are light years away from using social media platforms to improve our quality of life. Just talk to grownups about whatsapp, bbm, facebook and twitter, for example. Some will tell you that social media are a waste of time, too many criminals are out there and many marriages have broken up because of facebook or the like. Some of the social platforms like bbm and whatsapp are often merely used to convey crisp 'don't forget to buy the bread' variety. Time wasters, that's what these apps are, we state with such assertiveness that we think we have shared a groundbreaking discovery.

We use social media in the family to have real and real time conversations

Now, don't misunderstand me. I think we are fully aware of the dangers of cyber sphere and we need to raise awareness of these, especially to our vilnerable youth. We have to ensure that e-communication is supervised by us adults and by the owners and producers of these social media apps. But,we cannot bury our heads in the sand and dismiss these forms of communication outright. There are many advantages of using social media with one's own children for example, and deepen our relationships with them.

Let's look at my family. I now communicate with my three children via four social media platforms. We bbm and whatsapp one another, we are facebook friends and we follow one another on twitter. I have learned to lmao when something funny is shared, I know how to scold and how to offer that soothing Mommy voice via the range of icons available. Yes, we have conversations for real! And, I cannot even recall when our social media chats became part of our exchanges; it just evolved over time and we accept the added richness and closer bonds we share.

The other day, our drummer boy, Christo, wanted me to listen to a Bob Marley song he had on his cellphone playlist. In a tick, Christo had connected his smartphone via an aux cable to the woofer in the lounge, and within seconds, Bob Marley's song blared over the surround sound speakers. Imagine that - a pocket-sized music and media system having these capabilities. My mind did a quick flash to the days of my youth when youngsters needed gigantic shoulders to carry around their tape recorders!

Interestingly,the new generation is not really concerned about reculturing us; I think they often probably just tolerate us like a loving menace. They are too busy moving with the times. Here is another example.

Who is shaping the communication media?

Who really holds the power to shape the communication going forward? Us or the youth? Think again.

I think adults need to wake up and immerse themselves in the e-world out there, especially in the communication arena. Else we are going to lose our hold on the youth who are streaking ahead. We need to understand the world of the young people so that we can continue to offer them the wisdom and the guidance they need from us.

The more we cling only to our forms of communication that are comfortable and safe for us, the more we are widening the gap between our world and the world of the e-generation. Worse still, we are losing our power of influence to use the modern tools to inculcate all those eternal values of love, respect and dignity, for example.

That's rather frightening, right? But this is the reality of modern life. We need to marry our cultural practices pertaining to communication and the social media tools to create more dialogue with our young people in all the spaces of school, family and recreation.

Can we afford not to understand cyber sphere and its tools?

Helping to widen the gap between the rich and the poor is an unfortunate, but a real consequence of those who will not exploit the advantages of social media and digital technology.
The sad reality is that the young people in poorer areas are often subjected to the adults in their immediate circle of influence stubborn who refuse to move with the times.

While we debate the dangers and the 'overrated' value of social media in learning spaces, the children of the rich are racing off, mixing with their local and global peers, teaching themselves via the rich resources available to them at the click of a thumb.

We need to start embracing social media because they are not going to disappear.


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