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April: "Keep the band-aid or find a cure"

Posted Date: 04/17/2024


Superintendent Blog: April 2024
Topic: “Keep the band-aid or find a cure”

This month, I have chosen a topic that is not just educational, but potentially controversial…a tough subject, but one we can’t ignore. I love your children. They deserve the best we can offer, even if painfully implemented. Let’s talk…

We can continue to ‘band-aid’, or we can ‘band together’; let's boldly address a very important and complex issue. The sad truth is that we have lost our children. They seem to be lost in a technological abyss of social media and screen-time hell. Yes, very bluntly stated, our society and your children are paying a huge price for what we all have allowed.

As smartphone technology has evolved over the years, we are guilty of embracing what should have been a great thing. Schools have tried to find ways to incorporate a concept into daily instruction, and parents have fallen to the notion that all kids need instant access to everything. Our country is fighting an epidemic of increased mental health concerns among our youth. Recently, there has been much research on the negative psychological effects that instant access and social media are having on our children…predominantly those referred to as Generation Z. The trends and findings of such research are dangerously emerging.

Our utmost priority in education should focus on the safety and well-being of our children. When it comes to the topic of emotional and mental health, we have focused too long on support and not on the actual issues causing the damage. Should we approach the matter differently? What we have done is certainly not working. Do you find that your children are captives of excessive screen time?

The research overwhelmingly supports that excessive screen time, predominantly smartphone use, is contributing to negative outcomes such as sleep disturbances, decreased physical activity, obesity, depression, and anxiety. Social media platforms have significantly contributed to cyberbullying, feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem, and isolation. Our youth have become addicted and dependent on smartphones, which has led to difficulties in regulating emotions, managing stress, communicating, and forming healthy offline relationships.

How do we truly need to address these issues? How do we mend the strain of healthy parent-child relationships and increase the quality of time spent together? When do we work together to collectively ‘find our lost children’? Research strongly supports that children should not have access to social mediauntil the age of 16 and that smartphone technology should be banned in K-12 schools. How do we work with parents to alleviate the concerns and anxieties regarding instant communication and locationservices?

Is it time to band together, promote real social interactions, improve academic outcomes, support emotional and mental safety concerns, educate one another, and foster meaningful relationships? How do we offer alternative channels, assuring parents can communicate with their children in the event of an emergency or other important matters? While there may be some challenges, I believe there are solutions.

For years, we have danced around the fact that over 90% of major school-related discipline issues involve the mismanagement of cell phone usage. However, we have now come to a new era of mental health crises that we can’t afford to ignore. I’m not just asking, but imploring us all to research this topic…for stronger families, for better relationships, for healthier children. Within a couple of days, I’d like to pose a survey to seek your input on this important topic. Together, we can really attack the root of this cancer and not just focus on a treatment plan.

May God bless our children and provide us with wisdom and discernment as we lead them to success.