The use of nonstop social media among middle school students, along with illegal drugs and alcohol, represents the major danger to youth, a Connecticut school resource officer said.
Jeff Deak, a New Canaan police officer, told members of the New Canaan Board of Education that warnings from trusted adults about about the pitfalls of marathon social media usage are ineffective. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Those issues, in my opinion—the alcohol, the drugs, and the social media—are the big issues.
School Board Chair Dionna Carlson noted that the district has put time and effort into social-emotional learning. She asked the district’s Crisis Advisory Board representatives at the meeting whether those skills are in any way combined with safety and security training.
South School Principal Joanne Rocco said that the Crisis Advisory Board has discussed “the history of some school shooters and what is missing in their lives and how do we make sure through our School Climate Committee and through the work that we do in our classrooms that we have addressed that.”
Rocco said that all the work the school district has done around emotional intelligence this year is a great starting point, “even though it’s something that we have always addressed through the years.”
Even before the publication of “Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?,” parents and educators have been discussing how to rank social media usage—and phone usage in particular—in students’ health, safety, and learning. The New Canaan school resource officer’s comments to the Board of Education can further push us to action.
While the research is still in process, it is certainly the case that many social media users admit to feeling an addiction. As Chad Welmon and Julia Ticona have observed in The Hedgehog Review: “Believing that we as individuals are solely responsible for our technology-suffused lives, we risk overlooking the ways in which our individual incapacity to say no to Facebook is a cultural incapacity, one that Facebook is not only keen to exploit but also eager to preserve.”
In other words, it takes more than just individual willpower to overcome social media. It takes the sort of community effort for which Jeff Deak is calling.
In schools that don’t have a school-wide mobile phone policy, teachers often have significant discretion in how to help students to take responsible action with technology. Check out this one.
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