Social media may play a large role in your son's life. At Grand River Academy, we see the importance of teaching every young man how to properly navigate this online world, with both the benefits and risks involved. Platforms students use are constantly evolving and we want to help parents who may have questions.
This past Fall Family & Friends Day, GRA hosted two social media workshops. Based on feedback at the upper class meeting, the podcast was created. Below is a transcript of the recording and links to the PowerPoint, a breakdown of social media platforms, and helpful hints for parents.
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Thank you for joining Grand River Academy's podcast about Social Media and Your Son. After our parent workshop on Fall Family & Friends Day, we wanted to share what was discussed with more parents and families to help navigate this vast, and sometimes scary, online world that plays a large role in your teen's life. I'm Kelli Jones, the Director of Marketing & Communications and I have here with me today Thomas Polak - GRA School Counselor and Dorm Parent. We both have unique perspectives, from myself being a social media member from it's earliest days to handling the school's involvement online and Thomas
The first thing is a confession - I don't have any social media personally, so I've remained on the outside of this, with that however I am in contact daily, hourly, most of my existence is with teenagers and their life and the dominating force that is the technology and social media. So it finds it way into the dorms and counseling sessions and sometimes into my home.
This podcast today will hit on the following major points: what is your child using on social media, what are the platforms, what are the positives and the negatives of this use, and what are ways you can help your son as parents.
What is Social Media
When we talk about social media it's a way for your son and adults to stay connected with one another. Social media platforms that are popular are Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and there's even more out there such as Tinder (for dating) and Sarahah (an anonymous)..with so much out there, it's always changing. Here's a brief breakdown of the platforms and how they're used:
Snapchat is almost replacing actual text messages. They're capturing snippets of everyday life
It's a great platform for our students who are away from their families and friends to stay connected. You're able to see almost in real time what's happening on campus. GRA as a school uses these platforms to try to share so families can see what's going on without actually being able to visit. There are however downsides.
First of, my background is in philosophy with practice in counseling - so what I share has a philosophical flavor to it. However the ultimate goal with this podcast is to create awareness and a type of vigilance in learning and communicating with what your son is doing online.
It almost seems like in the modern world with teenagers is that their reality exists with the sole purpose to share it. Which is an interesting thing to mull that over in your head. And with that constant sharing you have this continual inattention, limiting focus, and with snapchat it seems like teenagers are unconsciously snapping all of the time. There is a blending between the public and private life now that happens over these mediums with the constant sharing.
So with this constant sharing you're almost seeing students thinking "if it's not likeable or shareable, what's the point?:
Right and with that, there's something that's embedded even with that - they want to share, they want the likes, and if people aren't sharing with them or they're not liking items, there's a type of dissatisfaction, there's a constant want and ability for affirmation but if it's not being met there's a disconnect.
Overdependence on Technology
From the clinical standpoint there's an overdependence on technology. The best way to grasp this is with the context of gambling. To say this that the makers themselves are intentional in making persuasive design that really capture and grab us. It's an easy image when you have this push notification or pull to refresh - the pull is to constantly keep us hooked and it's very much like a slot machine and the pulling of a handle. In the world of counseling this is called intermittent pleasure rewards so there's just enough rewards intermittently to keep you going and with this comes habits and dependence and a continuous cycle of keeping us hooked and going.
This is now falling into the realm of advertising so this is another means of gaining information about you for you. They take all of this data and put this together to keep you engaged. It's almost unconscious how pervasive this is. It's almost like the brain is hijacked. How much one is culpable for this is a whole different thing.
There's a lot that's happening that's built into the technology themselves so all the more reason for parents to stay vigilant and understand these things so we best know how to respond to them.
So you mention some really scary points and how you relate this addiction to gambling and you're always looking for the next thing and the fear of missing out. In terms of navigating the online world with our parents and their students what's some advice
Be creative with communication and your son
We need to be creative in how we reach out to our teenagers - and this should always start with conversation. We should not be afraid of teenagers and their methods of communications. We we want to work toward trying to having this as a constant conversation with them and educating ourselves on the side to keep up with this massive current that is social media.
Communication is the best way. Finding what they're using and creating this relationship so we're communicating with the families. And you mentioned before that another thing to keep in mind is to not be afraid to set boundaries regarding data usage?
Don't be afraid to set boundaries and restrictions with data usage
Yes, obviously it's very convenient to access these platforms. Things like limiting data or setting blocks so they can't have certain apps and restrictions can be helpful.
You as the parents can tailor and pick what your son has access too. Here's some helpful tips for families.
Here at GRA we deal with students and internet access on an individual basis. From working with families and taking phones away during certain parts of the day or night. We also make sure to turn off the wifi at night, however now students can turn on mobile "hot spots" on their phone to connect their laptops to and play video games at night. If you see a lot of data usage for your son and have questions, you can reach out to Dean of Students Amy Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org and Counselor Thomas Polak at email@example.com.
This is the last step before college so I can't stress the importance of this. There's the reality of the effect social media and technology is playing as people share more online with others. What's posted online is there permanently. So awareness and keeping vigilant is extremely important.
If you have more questions about social media, please feel free to reach out to Director of Marketing & Communications Kelli Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or GRA Counselor Thomas Polak at email@example.com