Social Media, bin Laden and Student Reactions

Read this Spotlight Blog post.

Are you looking for an interesting overview of the surreal celebrations on Sunday night, May 1, 2011 after the announcement about the death of Osama bin Laden?  Check out this post on the MacArthur Foundations’s Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning blog.

The Rise of Social Media and the Death of Osama bin Laden: Students Debate the Meaning of it All includes quotes, links to various media coverage, social media communication and helpful resources that shed some light on the spontaneous and unusually celebratory events that occurred around the United States.

A link to the NPR story on the celebrations takes readers to one of the most interesting comments, for me anyway. Part of one comment is below.

Mr. ADAM EVAN ANGLE (Student, Boston University): So I grew up under the specter of Osama bin Laden as the boogeyman. He was our Lord Vuldemort, if you will, like in Harry Potter, you know. He was pretty much the face of evil.

As a teacher and parent who lived through years with the Harry Potter phenomenon I can completely understand this comment.

Just as Lord Vuldemort cast a shadow over the lives of almost every character in the seven J.K Rowling books, so, after 9/11 did bin Laden cast the same shadow. The students out celebrating were children between 8-12 years old when the terrorist attacks occurred, and their lives were irrevocably changed in frightening and mysterious ways. They lived through their pre-adolescent and teen years with this spectre always in the background and sometimes it felt much closer than that.

It’s never easy for parents and teachers to have conversations about destruction, death, terrorism, and natural catastrophes. For those who want to think a bit more about the events, this is an excellent article to read.  Additionally, some months ago, after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, I wrote a post about a section of the American Academy of Pediatrics website and other resources that focus on talking to children about dramatic and scary news events.

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