This spring semester has me completely worn out. Thankfully I made it to Easter break and have enjoyed a nice and much needed 4 day weekend. I used all of my days off back in September when I had Covid, so I haven’t had many days off since then, and believe me, I’ve needed them!
Self care and rest pulls me away from technology. I believe the constant stimulation and bombardment of information is not good for us. I met with one of my seniors at school this last week who told me that he had given up social media for Lent and that he was surprised at how “freeing” it had been. He told me how he had so much more time to do things he wanted to do, even if it was just laundry. And that it also gave him a break from his friends which he really liked and found that he needed. He said he hadn’t realized how much he was on his phone either scrolling or texting or watching something and once he gave it up, he was amazed at how much better he felt. So refreshing to hear that from a teenager today!
These students have grown up in a world of technology and social media. They don’t know anything different and to even consider giving it up, even for a little while, is truly courageous in my opinion. Of course his friends made fun of him, said that he was “acting like a parent”. He did it anyway and I think he learned something from it. I hope others will follow in his footsteps.
I know social media was created as a way to bring us all together but it’s having the opposite effect. I am seeing the effects of it on a daily basis at school. My middle school students don’t know how to treat each other face to face. They are unkind, say mean things. Use racial slurs that they think are funny and don’t realize the implications behind those words. They are using slang terms and sayings that they see on Tik Tok and in memes and don’t know or understand the inferences that are being made – usually a sexual reference. It’s up to us parents to monitor what they see and talk with them. Show them how to be kind and speak to each other. It’s not ok to be mean. It’s not funny to be mean. That’s not how you treat people. I have been utterly surprised and disheartened at the conversations and lessons I’ve had to teach to the 6th grade students this year and it’s all because of what they have seen or heard on social media. If there are children in your life, talk to them, show them how to be kind, caring, and loving to others. Show them the power of words. Teach them the power of words. These kids are our future and the world needs them to be the arbiters of change. I’m afraid of what the world will be like if we don’t.
Easter is a time of rebirth and Spring is a new beginning. Let’s start now. I work with kids on a daily basis teaching them how to read and write and to think and now I’m also teaching them how to be kind and accepting and respectful. Teachers need help. We need help from parents. Together we can make a difference. Please reach out to your kids or friends with kids. Just talk to them. Find out what’s going on. What are they seeing, hearing, or experiencing? Talking can help. It’s a small step but one that can make a big difference. Don’t assume that your child isn’t doing these things because they are. Peer pressure is a powerful force and we know how easy it is to get pulled into the tide of our friends and what they are doing. Some of my sweetest and most innocent students are using names and slogans they think are funny and yet they have no idea the “real meaning” behind those terms. Talk to them.
Take advantage of this season of rebirth. Take a fresh look at your screen time. Do you need a break? Do you remember what you truly value at your core without the influence of the world at your fingertips?
Until next time,