Caledonia — When Superintendent Dedrick Martin wanted to hang out with his friends as a kid, he had to “get out of the house and knock on their door or maybe call them on the phone.”
Kids today are connecting through their devices and social media – just a click away from making plans or unexpected danger. Caledonia Community Schools hosted a virtual discussion about the documentary, “Childhood 2.0on the many ways social media affects the lives of young people.
Released in 2020, the film interviews students and their parents, with expert commentary, on the real issues facing children – including mental health and its connection to social media, cyberbullying, online predators and more.
“Because we spend so much of our lives online, it’s important for students to better understand how social media works and how it can negatively impact us, from our thinking and emotions to our relationships with others. “, said Martin, who started the discussion.
Families were encouraged to watch the documentary together over the winter break and had the opportunity to ask questions during the discussion.
Panelists introduced Chris McKenna, founder of the app company Protect young eyes; Katey McPherson, director of professional development for the app company Bark; Catherine Schmidt owner of Zen-Yoga; Dr. Mark Steenwyk, psychologist from Rest of the pine; and Stephanie Wrogg, senior at Caledonia High School. Caledonia Community Schools Student Support Coordinator Katie Dorband moderated the conversation.
“I don’t want parents breaking their kids’ phones; I want us to look for ways to build trust and conversation.
– Chris McKenna, Founder of Protect Young Eyes
Caledonia resident, parent and contributor to the documentary Childhood 2.0, McKenna said “digital trust” begins when parents have conversations with their children about the limits of social media, internet and device use.
“It’s not us against (our children); it’s us with them. We want them to succeed online,” McKenna said. “Technology is a human issue, not just a children’s issue and it starts with us Caledonia moms and dads.”
McKenna advised against “snooping” on children’s technology and social media because it teaches children to be “digital ninjas.”
He added: “Start the conversation with your children before moving on to protection.”
Take steps to control access
McKenna also discussed the impact of discovering mature content via social media and the internet on young people.
“Explicit content used to be a destination, but now we live in a world where porn is looking for us,” he said. “I don’t want parents breaking their kids’ phones; I want us to look for ways to build trust and conversation.
McPherson offered Bark, an artificial intelligence app that runs in the background of digital platforms and monitors school-issued and family accounts, as an option to help protect students from explicit content. and monitor their consumption of digital content.
“We wish all families had no mysteries in their children’s lives,” she said. “For schools and parents subscribed to a supervision app like Bark, it simplifies supervising texts, emails, web searches, and apps like Instagram, Discord, YouTube, with limited access to Snapchat.”
McKenna called Bark’s parental control “a gentle, caring embrace and not a cruel hammer of authority.”
According to the US Surgeon General, before the coronavirus pandemic, mental health issues were the leading cause of poor life outcomes for young people, with up to 1 in 5 children aged 3 to 17 worldwide countries with a mental, emotional, developmental or behavioral disorder.
Over the past two years, McPherson and his team have witnessed an escalation in online predation and an increase in depression, anxiety and self-harm among young people.
New data in 2021 reported that more than one in three high school students suffered from poor mental health since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Learn to navigate between the pros and cons of technology
As a high school student, Wrogg sees technology as an asset and sees his peers using screens and social media to “distract himself from the stresses of adolescence and the stresses of the world”.
“We need a distraction to stay sane; it brings comfort and familiarity in a chaotic world,” she said, though she also sees the downsides. “The online world is growing in convenience and popularity, but technology is only effective if you use it and it can have adverse effects on teenagers.”
Professionals from the Yoga Zen and Pine Rest community offered their solutions.
Steenwyk, from Pine Rest, explained how dialectical behavior therapy teaches distress tolerance skills through the acronym TIPP – temperature, intense exercise, rhythmic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
“As a parent, you’re going to make mistakes, but the more we can normalize that big emotions aren’t bad or dangerous or scary or things we need to run away from, the more comfortable (our kids) become and tolerate everything. whatever comes their way,” he said.
As a yoga instructor, Schmidt explained the benefits of movement and mindfulness and how they can “counteract the negative effects of the internet and social media on our young people and on all of us.”
“The practice of yoga brings awareness to our body and thoughts and mindful breathing decreases stress hormones and increases feel-good hormones,” she said. “Making time to be mindful slows things down and helps us build emotional resilience and agency.”
In conclusion, each panelist offered tips for parents to remember and implement in their own lives.
“Go home and talk openly and honestly about your concerns with your kids,” McKenna said. “Expose your digital fears and work together to find the best solution.”
Martin added: “Our school devices have firewalls and are generally safe for students. Although we are not perfect, we are always finding new ways to work and partner with parents to keep our children safe in online environments. »