The Montgomery Area School District recently hosted an important conversation, reported in Wednesday’s edition of the Sun-Gazette, which we hope all parents will read.
The conversation looked at how and how social media is consumed by teens.
Dr. Kevin Lally of Bloomsburg University discussed the role of social media in bullying, depression, and anxiety, in particular.
In examining the pitfalls of social media, an important message to which Lally and others return frequently is that families need to talk about social media.
“Make sure they can have that open line of communication with you,” State Police Lauren Lesher said. “This will be your biggest line of defense when it comes to cyberbullying.”
Although families are the key to anticipating and refuting cyberbullying, they cannot be expected to be aimed solely at teens and social media.
Schools play a role in helping teens develop healthy online habits. We appreciate that the Montgomery Area School District and other education officials recognize this and are working to fulfill their role.
The private companies that have created what we call “social media” also have a role. We hope that their leaders and administrative and technical staff take this role seriously. It is also important that voters do not allow some malcontents to tie their hands in exercising their judgment and ownership of their social media platforms due to a grossly misunderstanding of what “freedom of speech” is. Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, among others, deserve the wide latitude in the use of their platforms – their property – that we grant, for example, to the Dan Bongino radio show or Fox News or National Review magazine . Just as we shouldn’t tolerate the government forcing Dan Bongino or National Review to offer a microphone or column thumbs to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders or U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we shouldn’t tolerate the government forcing Facebook or Twitter to provide a platform for content that it considers misinformation or defamatory or harmful to the health of adolescents.
But the front line in orienting teens towards healthy uses of social media is, of course, families. Parents know best what their sons and daughters are doing and what they can handle.
That’s why seminars like the one hosted by the Montgomery Area School District are important: providing parents and families with the information and tools they need to guide teens’ use of social media is a step essential to discourage unhealthy uses of social media and discourage outright addiction to screens. .