The partnership between community, parents, and school has never needed to be stronger than in present times. Our children and students are faced with many challenges that are unique from what today’s adults were faced with in their own time of adolescence. As a district leader and parent of four, I often wonder what proactive steps we should take to ensure our youth are properly equipped to face today’s challenges. One of the greatest concerns I have had recently is around social media. The most frightening aspect is I worry for not only children but also adults and wonder about the psychological and emotional effects of this technology. As a leader, I see firsthand the number of students and adults who are benefiting from social-emotional support.
The above is true, all while perhaps paradoxically, I am a fierce proponent and advocate of technology integration in the modern classroom. I believe the key is to strike a balance between education around the technology tools and both the benefits and potential risks.
I recently watched the 2020 Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma. The documentary attempts to lift the veil of the social media giants i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc. and their use of our data for profit and to shape our viewpoints again resulting in enterprise. The documentary notes that according to the American Journal of Epidemiology (2017), “A 5,000-person study found that higher social media use correlated with self-reported declines in metal and physical health and life satisfaction”. I imagine people are not surprised by this statistic; however, I am curious how many of those same individuals reflect on how their social media use is impacting themselves and their children. I am often surprised when district leaders and teachers have to remind parents that their children do not HAVE to have a phone with social media capabilities. Moreover, I am left wondering as some parents do not feel as if they can search/monitor their student’s devices.
As an educational leader and parent, I think social media use should be at the forefront of our minds for both our children and ourselves. With the risk of sounding “old”, perhaps we could benefit from putting down the phone/device and interacting with each other.