Schools vs. Social Media

I don’t want to be the guy telling the kids to get off my lawn nor will I pretend to know what the definitive solution to the problem is but I do believe social media to be a problem:

Specifically, while they may not be content creators per se, social media companies need to stop pretending their algorithms don’t accentuate social media’s negative qualities. It’s one thing for adults to navigate this, kids are another matter.

For the sake of clarity, I’m not talking about politics.

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Kids are being handed phones/tablets/computers at a very young age, and no guidance on how to manage themselves on what is are addictive platforms of social media.

It’s very hard for teachers/schools to control phone use in the classroom. And a teacher + lesson just can’t compete with the drama or fun of social media.

Sadly, I think the lawsuit will fail. There’s too much money and power in the social media companies. And the “Section 230” will prevent any accountability.

It’s definitely a problem, and one solution is likely education. Kids take social studies and communications courses at a relatively young age today. Teach the kids about how social media algorithms work, why they are used, and why they may be harmful. Also teach why someone firing off a Tweet, Facebook comment (I don’t know many kids who use Facebook), or Snap might likely choose to communicate quite differently in a face-to-face interaction.

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The United Nations has weighed in:

I’m all for that, but removing phones in the classroom would seem to be just a drop in the bucket. Even if you remove phones during school hours there are another 17 hours in the day for potential social media mischief.

This is late notice, but there is a webinar today from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health:

Parents, join us for a webinar on how to talk to your children about social media!
Parents and caregivers play an important role in supporting their child’s mental health, including having discussions on social media usage. Join us as we explore different tools and skills for initiating conversations with children and teens about social media.

When: Thursday, July 27th at 4pm ET

Can’t make that time? Register anyway to receive a recording of the presentation that can be viewed on your own schedule.

Registration link: Webinar Registration - Zoom

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But it can help with classroom attention and behavior.
Despite what kids think, they can’t multitask!
If they are on their phone, they are not paying attention or participating in class.

The school year with all of its interruptions is actually shorter than you think, and every class day counts, and distractions are a real problem.

We can’t control what happens outside of school (that would be the parents’ responsibility, if they chose to actually act on it). But inside the school, teachers and admins are in loco parentis and should have some say about how phones can/can’t be used in the classroom.

Shouldn’t a phone (restricted to 911 Calling) be allowed?

I don’t know what’s normal for most school districts, but phone use is already prohibited in our school district except when outside the building before and after school. Use is also prohibited on school buses, but I don’t believe phone use on the bus is policed very well.

Classrooms have phones to call out with.

Not sure how you could restrict calls to 911 only on cell phones, but maybe it’s possible?

Ask teachers how many of their students get calls/texts from their moms in the middle of class…!
Moms mean well, but really need to back off a bit.

Reminds me of a story (a little gross, you’ve been warned) – I was giving a midterm exam (high school). A student raised his hand and stood up and said he was going to be sick. I said “get to the trash can!” but the kid stood there dialing his phone so I grabbed the trash can to bring it over. He threw up all over the floor.

Later I asked him why he wasn’t going to the trash can. He said he was calling his mom !

Interesting how his instinct is now to dial a phone rather than to immediately find a bag or container…

One must start somewhere. In the U.S., a federal law prohibiting student use of phones in school is probably not feasible. But, a law isn’t really necessary. School districts, as a matter of policy, may certainly restrict or forbid student phone use as a distraction to the learning process.

Outside of school, parents are absolutely the first line of defense. It’s sad to say, however, not all kids have responsible parents.

Despite what humans (adults as well as kids) might like to think, they cannot multitask.

I don’t see a practical way of doing this? And, there is a dilemma. In many tragic instances of school shootings, the first calls to 911 came from students using cell phones. I don’t think the solution is banning possession but school districts or even individual teachers should, generally, disallow phone use during class.

Not in my day though I’ll admit it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a classroom. In my day, a trip to the office would be necessary to find a phone.

So, is it the kids or the adults that are the problem?

Circling back, I do think the idea of schools suing the tech giants has merit. The tech giants rightly point out Section 230 provides safe harbor because they themselves aren’t necessarily creating the harmful content. But, they should be made to answer for the algorithms that push kids toward harmful content. It’s intentional because the tech giants know harmful content drives engagement, which is to their benefit.

When I was in school we were not allowed to have radios, cassette players etc. In today’s world I don’t know why having a cell phone should be any different.

Where I lived we all walked around with cassette players in high school. Man, what I paid for that Walkman back in 80’s was insane. When it fell out of my pocket while riding my bicycle I wept a bit.



My high school’s policy was for teachers to confiscate them and only return them to the parent, although I did have one teacher who would only confiscate the batteries. Most students wouldn’t bother to get their parents involved over batteries, and some of them started carrying extra batteries just in case.

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When I was in school we weren’t allowed to use calculators. In my later high school years I did manage to convince one math teacher that if I could program my programmable calculator to output the correct answer then I must know the material. He still didn’t let me use it in class.

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Things are heating up:

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