Social Media isn't Rehab

Sep 27, 2017

Gabriella Robison, Pepperdine student

Social media has certainly become an ingrained sect of current pop culture and society. Has it become integral? That is a separate and much bolder claim altogether. While the latter statement may become true one day, I do not believe that it is true today. In other words, social media is not a necessary tool for rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation is defined as the "means to drive, means to find a job, means to keep a job, means to secure housing, etc." in order to prepare former inmates for productive living upon release from being imprisoned. If one is to argue that social media is required to effectively participate in and contribute to society, evidence suggesting that social media is used extensively in completing rudimentary rehabilitative tasks like finding housing and employment should be readily available. This is not the case, however.

On the contrary, articles being published point to the decrease in employee productivity on account of social media activity during work hours. A 2015 Forbes article "Wasting Time at Work: The Epidemic Continues" reports that of those surveyed, 31% wasted 30 minutes a day, 31% wasted an hour, 16% wasted two hours, 6% wasted three hours, 2% wasted four hours, and 2% wasted five or more hours on social media while at work. This means that 4% of people wasted at least half of their workday on social media.

This information suggests that social media platforms provide entertainment far more than they provide pertinent and vital information.

If I could capture the essence of social media in one word, it would be convenience. It makes keeping up with friends and family members' lives, on-the-fly research easy, and news updates easy and immediate. However, all of these things can be done without using social media.

My own mother does not have a single social media account, and yet she is a health educator at Cal Optima, Orange County's largest medical insurer. She found this position five years ago, has remained a constant employee and has received raises and promotions since then, all without the use of social media platforms. She abstains from having an account and the only thing she feels she misses out on our adventures and vacations that friends and family members, all of which she learns through my sister and me, or through conversations with those same people that she eventually has.

Social media is a popular alternative to engaging and communicating with people, but it is not the only way of doing so. Thus, prohibition from being an account holder for registered sex offenders, as stipulated by North Carolina's statute is not a violation of First Amendment rights. Rather, it is a restriction from a luxury surrendered the moment offenders were convicted of the crime.


Gabriella Robison, a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Fall 2017 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the prompt:In Packingham v. North Carolina, the SC ruled that even sex offenders have a 1st amendment right to social media. Where they correct? Has social media become so integral in today's society that restricting access would be the same as restricting access to necessary tools for rehabilitation (means to drive, means to find a job, means to keep a job, means to secure housing, etc.)?

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