Social Media in Social Studies

Imagine President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivering his fireside chats to the nation today. It likely would not come through the crackling sound waves of the radio. Perhaps he’d offer a weekly podcast. Or a series of Tweets. Imagine, too, FDR using Instagram rather than a telegram to announce the attack on Pearl Harbor. The internet offer a plethora of options and invites immediate feedback and widespread conversations. Tweets, blogs, bots, and memes are new tools, but they and the platforms of social media have a history that puts them in perspective. In the next pages, this article provides a brief overview of media forms over time, placing social media in the continuum from traditional media forms (e.g. books, film, radio, TV) to interactive media (media that allows audience participation) to social media (digital forums that allow for collaborative conversations across audiences and geography). After delineating similarities and differences, the piece suggests that social media differs less than one would think from earlier forms of communication and that analytical tools used to understand, explain, and critique apply just as well to the social media form. While we might feel a bit overwhelmed by social media and the pace of communication it instills, the critical analysis of old still has resonance in the present. Teaching primary source analysis strategies can help students become critical consumers and savvy producers of social media.

Media, Critical Thinking

Technologies in Learning

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Dr. Peggy O'Neill-Jones
    • Professor Emeritus, Journalism and Media Production, Metropolitan State University of Denver