Sure, I bought in the narrative hook, line, and sinker.
Join this new social media, you’ll be better for it!
I got myself Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and used it for good, not evil. I found coaches I could connect to, new teachers to who helped with content, I could keep in contact with my children. Or so I thought.
My youngest daughter, she knew how to get around us when we said no Snapchat, hiding the app amongst other apps. Our other daughter made the active choice NOT to engage in this, and for good reason as she watched her sister get pulled into drama and and again and again.
Then I read this a couple of days ago:
Middle School Misfortunes Then and Now, One Teacher’s Takeby Benjamin Conlon
It’s on a site called Wait Until 8th, an organization focused on giving parents to the tools to be able to say “yes, we’ll wait until 8th grade” before purchasing smartphones for their children.
The blog post struck me in the pit of my stomach, because I could see my daughter in the story. Not only that, I DO see so many Brian’s in middle school, trying to find their way around, trying to figure themselves out, and trying NOT to look stupid. However, the Mark’s of the world, who got a smartphone, a pat on the head, and NO guidance on how to use it, are out there, trying to find the big viral video.
So, what can I do about this:
- reduce my own social media usage. I’ve cut back on Twitter a lot just because so there are so many “you must do things this way or your kids are getting shortchanged” types. If I could do all the buzz words, do them well, I’d have no time, none for my wife, my kids, my garden, my sanity. Now, that’s not to say I won’t participate in #iaedchat (my favorite) or #moedchat (a close second) or #minecraftedu (need to get back to this one). I won’t stop posting to #edchat, #elemchat, #mschat (middle school), and a couple of other, but my offline life is more important.
- reduce my classroom usage. Just like with my personal use, my classroom use has declined as well. I used to post a lot of pictures with my class, but the whole idea of “posting content without consent” hit home with me. I cannot decide if I’m going to keep tweeting our blogs out or not, but I know I’ll be deleting my classroom Instagram page. One less thing to worry about.
- Advocating to wait with smartphones. This idea that the average age a student gets a smartphone is 10 is absurd. A 10 year old does not need a personal computer in their hand with zero limitation to it. No, both our daughters got their first phones a 7th grade, when they need to call for a ride, however, they were by the minute kinds of phones (and pretty cheap ones at that!), so if they did something stupid with them, oh, that’s bummer, guess you’ll need wait until next month to recharge the minutes.
Anyway, I’m ready to get off my soapbox, but this article really made me think about what social media is doing to our society as a whole, and the generation of kids coming up knowing no different. Honestly, I’m a little lonely at times in my empty nest, but we avoiding some MAJOR landmines with social media. I’m not sure how parents with young children can avoid these as our social media world continues to permeate our families.
All I can say is good luck and be strong. You are doing the right thing by having them wait as you can.
November 20, 2018 at 11:41 am
Oh my gosh. I saw that article, too, and thought of you since you are the only middle school teacher I know at the moment…and almost sent it to you. It was a great article which I sent to my son who has a middle schooler. And did you see the article where the ‘founders’ of cell phones are not letting their own kids use/embrace them? Interesting. Glad you wrote this post and hope lots of others see it and or the article.
November 20, 2018 at 12:20 pm
Hi Darin, I feel your pain and I get it, I do. I think we all have a lot of reflecting to do with regard to social media presence at home, at school and everywhere else. I appreciate your honest reflection. In my own school context, the ubiquity of smartphones is undeniable. At the same time, I notice the culture among the kids, how they relate to each other. They are not smartphone zombies – on the contrary, I see the way they laugh and joke with each other, itch to get in the gym to shoot baskets, hang out in the library – they care for each other, they play instruments and come out for sports. All is not lost. Navigating this brave new hyperconnected world is not a zero-sum game but I do see the way it tests and challenges to stay human, to retain our compassion. Thanks for writing.
November 21, 2018 at 10:47 am
I wish I could just hook onto your bandwagon!! 🙂
Our high school, heck, our middle school is struggling with smartphone technology and the pitfalls of it: the lack of empathy, the lack of caring, the lack of kindness. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t pockets of all this in our schools, but as a whole, I’m not a huge fan of this technology, and this is coming from a big time tech nerd! 🙂 If I can tap into your positive views, I appreciate it because it’s hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel right now.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I appreciate your reading.
November 20, 2018 at 1:01 pm
I just had a conversation on this topic with one of my friends who is a school counselor and it was as if you were sitting at the table with us:) One thing that really resonated with me about your post was the statement “there are so many ‘you must do things this way or your kids are getting shortchanged’” types. While I enjoy my Twitter PLN, sometimes I worry that the message educators receive is one in which you have to do everything perfectly and just as someone else tells us.
November 20, 2018 at 10:14 pm
Wow, that is so true! One of the reasons I’ve drifted a bit is I feel like if I’m not “SuperTeacher”, that I’m damaging my students. I’m here to tell you, I can’t be SuperTeacher, SuperHusband, and SuperDad. Somedays, I’m just Mr. J, and that should be good enough! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂
November 20, 2018 at 1:18 pm
I am reading the Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adair realizing that there is so much I don’t know about the digital life and it’s impact on children. The article you shared resonates with me.
November 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm
That’s sounds like an interesting read! Thank you for sharing this because I’m in need of another good “educational” book for Christmas break! 🙂
November 20, 2018 at 1:28 pm
Middle school can be a confusing time, and social media amplifies it. I am thankful that my children just missed this wave and I didn’t have to deal with saying no. Thank you for sharing. It gives me support for what I share with the families of my 4th graders.
November 20, 2018 at 2:06 pm
We caught the tail end of the social media nonsense as it exploded onto the scene. My oldest daughter escaped, but she wouldn’t be drawn in anyway. My youngest daughter was Brian, checking likes and posts and all of it. I’m hoping college breaks that, but from what I’ve seen since she’s been home, not so much. I read the article to my sixth graders as I know many will get cell phones for Christmas. I only hope they do good because my sphere of influence to starting to shrink! 😦
November 20, 2018 at 5:17 pm
I sent the article on to my principal. I think it’s imperative that we educate parents as soon as possible to stay strong. Hang in there with your kiddo. The first year of college is a rough transition year. My girl is just finding herself as junior.
November 20, 2018 at 6:09 pm
My co-workers and I just had this conversation! Kids need to be kids. Less screen time more real time. I believe the constant use of social media is creating a lack of empathy for students.
November 20, 2018 at 10:11 pm
I cannot argue with this at all. There’s a lack of empathy and a lack of overall respect for others, both of which concern me. I don’t have any answers, but this has struck a nerve with me (and others based on the comments here!). Thank you for your comment! 🙂
November 20, 2018 at 7:32 pm
We have been having similar discussions in our ES Leadership Team. So interesting to be a part of this brave, new world. WHo knows what the outcome of our decisions will be.
November 20, 2018 at 10:12 pm
It’s exciting and more than a little scary to think about the long term implications of the things decided today! Thank you for your comment! 🙂
November 21, 2018 at 7:51 am
We’ve been having a facebook conversation around my house of late… While we are long finished parenting younger kids, I think about social media. Less about the kids involvement and more about how I am not adding to their digital footprints. I post fewer pictures of students as well or when I do, I try to make it hands or backs with work being the focus. I will say about myself that I get a lot out of my social media relationships: coaching, learning, and encouragement. Are my adult decisions not all that good? hmmm.
November 21, 2018 at 9:47 pm
>Are my adult decisions not all that good? hmmm.<
Not at all, it's about balance between personal and professional, between what your take aways are and what your turn offs are. For me, right now, I'm not seeing the return in my own time investment for what it's worth. And for my students, I see an even less return on investment in terms of their own emotional growth. That article just struck a nerve with me. That's all.