Time to Bring Public Policy and Social Media Together for Progress

By Mary Ann Stewart

I’ve had a great summer, much of it spent off the grid unplugged from email, tapping into social media for fun. It’s been great connecting on a more personal level with family and friends in real time talking, laughing, crying, sharing, hugging.

Thinking back to when Facebook arrived on the scene in February 2004: I was slow to adopt. I signed up eventually and connected to family and local friends. When Twitter followed in March 2006, I decided I was not going to try to keep up with yet another platform. Not so for businesses, corporations, institutions, and the like. Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook opened up a whole new world of marketing strategy for them.

“We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.” ~ Erik Qualman, author

After being accepted in 2011 into a 6-month program for women interested in pursuing political office, I was introduced to Twitter and quickly grew to enjoy it. I set myself up on LinkedIn later that same year and leaned into the idea of using Facebook as a way to connect with folks on a range of issues, too. This video gives a snapshot of social media at the time:

Gone are the questions asking if social media is here to stay. Clearly they are, though how kids and adults are using social media today has changed dramatically.

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat Used Most Often by American TeensConsider a PEW study published earlier this year that provides an overview on American teens and their use of technology and social media. One finding showed that 92% of teens were online everyday, with 24% online “almost constantly”.

So much has changed – and is changing – across our media-saturated landscape. Schools and individual teachers are working to bring media literacy to students, but media literacy is not broadly implemented in our public schools and media literacy is rarely part of the public debate on education. Still, more and more politicians and policymakers are getting on twitter and facebook to connect to their stakeholders and constituents.

I’m a member of the national advisory council for Media Literacy Now. We want our elected representatives and policymakers to engage with us on social media. As more and more elected people are engaging stakeholders and constituents through Twitter and Facebook, we can connect with them in meaningful ways to impact awareness of the urgent need for media literacy education and other key public policy issues of our time.

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Posts, Podcasts, tweets

This article is cross-posted at blog: MAStewartMA.

About the Author:

Mary Ann Stewart is a member of the National Advisory Council of Media Literacy Now. She is a parent of three, elected Town Meeting Member (since 2006), a twice-elected member and Chair of the Lexington School Committee (2009-2014), and past President of Massachusetts PTA (2010-2012). In September 2014 Mary Ann was appointed by (then) Governor Patrick to a five-year term as the Parent Representative on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. You can follow her on Twitter: @MAStewartMA.

See more posts by Mary Ann Stewart.

2016-11-29T16:59:59+00:00September 9th, 2015|Stories|2 Comments


  1. Ophelia Overton September 29, 2015 at 12:27 am

    What an interesting read. I think it’s really important for policy makers to meet where the masses are: social media. There is such potential for open information exchange between politicians and constituents. However, social media isn’t always full of good information. What about misinformation and information manipulation? Media literacy is more important than ever with so much information available to citizens. I’ve found https://findwhatmatters.wordpress.com/ really helpful for wading through that information.

    • Mary Ann Stewart September 30, 2015 at 8:49 am

      Thanks for your comment, Ophelia, and for the helpful link! ~ mas

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