From The Principal

Tena koutou katoa. Nga mihi atawhai nui.

How do we deal with our teenagers and social media? It’s a perplexing problem for many parents but, there is some good news about the benefits of social media for our young people, especially when they are still in this restricted L3 alert level. On the website, there are a range of researched articles covering a variety of topics. This one on social media was the one that caught my eye.

“There are so many benefits to social media – just ask teens,” said Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, the executive director of the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). “Connection, creativity, humour, information. It’s an amazing place to stay connected to people in your life. It’s an incredible space for artistic expression and sharing your creativity. You can laugh, be inspired, learn something new every single day.

Only 24% of teens surveyed by the Pew Research Center found social media use to be negative, and a significant margin reported that social media makes them feel included (71%), confident (69%), authentic (64%) and outgoing (61%).

“Teens often feel as though no one is listening to them when it comes to their social media use, and that adults, parents, teachers … do not fully understand. One of the most important things parents and educators can do is to keep the lines of communication open,” said Nesi. “Ask questions about what teens are experiencing online, what they’re finding to be helpful or hurtful, how they feel that their social media use impacts their mood. And listen to their answers.”

Teens are best approached with a spirit of curiosity and inquiry. Adults may be surprised to discover how much teens are willing to share when not put on the defensive, and how informed they are of the adverse effects of social media use.

“What I can tell you is that teens have the same concerns as parents about social media,” said Lipkin. “They are aware of the dangers and the risks but they are also aware of the benefits. If you want to talk with your teens about the dangers of social media, you need to be willing to hear about the benefits too or the conversation will stop before it even gets started.”

One significant way that adults can support healthy teen use of social media is to model the behaviour they want to see. Adults may want to examine their own use of mobile phones and social media before casting aspersions.

“[Teens] are watching what we do more than they are listening to what we say,” said Lipkin. “I can’t tell you how many times students tell me about the hypocrisy they notice when the parents tell the kids to get off their devices but the parents are the ones that seem obsessed.”

“We all need to accept that social media does not fall into a “youth” issue and we need to stop putting it there,” said Lipkin. “Navigating social media and information is complicated for us all – whether you are 6, 16, or 60. We are all learning as we go and we need to work together and learn from each other.” Link to full article