Teens and technology: finding a balance

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“The world is definitely changing very rapidly. The majority of students want social media to be a positive factor in their life.” -Nicolas Sweet

“There has to be some separation between parents and their children’s social media accounts. If you teach your children to have some self-responsibility online, that will carry on outside of social media.” -Zachariah Chou

“There is a difference between being active in a millennial and having an addiction. Although kids may be on their phones, encourage your kids to have self-control.” -Felicia Reich

This is just a taste of what many teens would agree to be the effects of technology on their daily lives. Apropos to this year’s theme of leaving a digital footprint, parents were invited to attend an informational seminar regarding what students are doing online these days. Last week, six students involved in the Principal’s Student Advisory got on stage to share personal stories about the effects of technology on their lives… and they had a lot to say.

“I love technology because I have friends from all over the world so it’s the only way I can connect with them, but at the same time it is such a big distraction. Overall I think it’s beneficial for a teen,” said junior Janice An.

Beginning in sixth grade, students are required to incorporate the use of iPads into their daily school routine. Made mandatory just three years ago, this pivotal change to Heritage’s curriculum brought with it many ups and downs. With technology becoming an increasingly significant part of daily life, it’s only appropriate that students are taught how to take full advantage of these innovations, and made aware of the imprint they themselves leave online.

Unfortunately, the use of iPads during class has served as an additional incentive for students to get off task. “There is for sure iPad abuse going on in the classroom. That’s not even a question,” said senior Natalie Valdes. During times of instruction, many students resort to playing video games rather than staying attentive to lessons. To solve this issue, Heritage administrators established a campus-wide server that makes websites and applications such as Facebook and Instagram virtually inaccessible while on the school’s wifi. “Someone has already figured out how to get around it. They always do,” said Natalie.

It’s no secret that students are constantly on their phones, the question is, where do we draw the line between obsession and addiction?

“The ability of our kids to multitask is amazing to me. On one hand multitasking can be bad because you don’t really focus on one task, but on the other hand, you guys have learned to multitask, and that’s pretty impressive as well,” said Mrs. Elise Blum.

“I think it’s all about finding a balance. I myself used to play video games late into the night, even on school nights. I used to put no effort into studying for tests. Eventually, you realize what your priorities are. I no longer do that,” said sophomore Nicolas Sweet.

“I have trained myself not to look at social media until I am about to go to bed. I use it as an incentive to get my work done,” said senior Charlotte Foreman.

Teens are growing up in a world where texting, social media, and the Internet have become an integral part of everyday life. Technology literally puts the power to change the world in the palm of our hands, but with this great power comes great responsibility.  It is necessary to remind students that while their digital image should be of great concern, it is also important to maintain personal relationships with friends and family and a healthy self-image.

“I highly encourage parents to use ‘Commonsensemedia.org.’ It’s a wonderful way to determine if a certain movie or book is appropriate for your child.” said Blum. “Although students have become increasingly more self-sufficient, they are not done growing up.”

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