As a young mom I watch my 14-month-old play with my phone. She looks at it picks it up high in the air. She is pretending to take a selfie! She is confused when I am talking to someone on speaker phone and cannot see their face because we are not using FaceTime. And let’s be honest I am a proud mommy, so she takes up most of my Facebook feed now a days.
I then look at my students. My teenagers spend all their free time on their phones. This past year I was given an opportunity to try Yonder bags. These are bags that students lock their phones in but can still carry with them for safe keeping while in the classroom. I had hoped this would make things easier in my classroom monitoring cell phone usage but there are still some I have students trying to keep them unlocked and feed their headphones into the small pouch. However overall it has been a positive one. I do not confiscate as many phones and I feel more students are engaged in what is going on in the classroom.
I share these personal experiences to express my overall concern. While I too use social media, specifically Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I must admit I have an addiction. And so do many of my fellow Americans. 3.1 billion people on our planet use social media
(Mediakix, 2018). There are 7 billion people on the planet. But probably the scariest statistic I have read as a teacher and as a parent is that teens who spend up to 5 hours a day on their phones are 2x more likely to suffer from depression and 10% of teens check their phones up to 10 times per night (Mediakix, 2018). What does this mean for teen’s health? It means my students are doing something they think can make them happy and really its not. It means my students are not getting enough sleep and are then tired for class and activities. It also means a decline in the social skills that many of us once gained in our teen years such as making phone calls, speaking in a conversation and having polite conversation. With the protection of screen names and fake identities it is easy to be unkind, make inappropriate comments and bully others. How many of us have said things to someone in a group on Facebook that we would never say to a person’s face?
So what can a parent do? Parents can limit screen time. We are not our child’s friend. Even if they pay their own phone bill they live in the parent’s house. Have a technology shut down time. Turn off the wifi, dock phones in a centralized location and no phones during meal times. Monitor their internet usage. Apps such as Phone Sheriff allow parents to monitor their child’s cellphone usage. Do not allow devices in bedrooms and other non-public places of the homes. For younger children have a screen time limit. Allow them to earn more time limit. When they are on punishment take away these items. If a child needs a screen for homework monitor that use and then take it away.Fellow parents I know this is extra work but this is the age we live in. We can either conform to it or rise above it. Social media is a great thing. We can get information about anything. My mom Facebook groups have gotten me through some rough times as a new mom. I have made friends and reconnected with old ones. I have family on social media I would not get a chance to see or communicate without social media. I create lessons on from Pinterest. But everything is in moderation. And our children are looking to us to teach them how to do this in moderation. It starts at home.