Common Sense Media Tech Forum 10/12/17

For our third consecutive year, MCDS hosted a panel of sixteen 8th graders from participating Marin schools, who answered questions about their digital lives in front of a parent audience. Notes are below–some thoughtful, balanced answers that we hope are indicative of the work we’re doing with students around digital citizenship.

Most notes are written from the students’ point of view. We hope they provide valuable insights as you support your child’s relationship with digital technology.

  • If you haven’t already, check out Common Sense Media’s recent gender equity initiative research
  • My phone usually charges in kitchen; sometimes I sleep with it in my room. My parents use KidsLox so it limits me to 90 minutes per day on my phone, and it shuts off apps at 8pm.
  • I got my phone in 6th grade when I made honor roll. Most of my peers got their phones when we were in 5th grade, so I was excited when I got mine in 6th.
  • Some tech rules for my family: not allowed to be on phone in someone else’s car; have to charge my phone in my dad’s office… I wasn’t allowed on Instagram at first, but eventually my parents let me join. I had to prove I was responsible, and I had to write out a lot of ideas about how to use it responsibly before I was allowed to start my account.
  • I got my phone in 5th grade. My family’s rules are no social media, and no sleeping with my phone in my room.
  • We know that sleep helps connect the prefrontal cortex to the emotional center of the brain, which helps us make better decisions.
  • After being on my phone for a while, I’d rather go outside and kick a soccer ball or something than keep playing on my phone.
  • Sometimes I find myself going down a rabbit hole on social media, and I try to be aware of that so I can pull myself back. Usually it’s Instagram or Snapchat. They have “explore” features that are pretty mindless and kind of pointless, but they definitely suck you in.
  • Moment” or similar tools can help you keep track of how long you spend on your phone, app-by-app…
  • I have Twitter on my phone, just to look at controversial tweets like Donald Trump’s. I don’t really use it for much besides that.
  • I don’t have a phone, and I don’t really have that “FOMO” feeling. Right now I’m on my computer a bit more in my free time, because I’m injured and I can’t play sports. Usually I’m out mountain biking or something.
  • Instagram and Snapchat are what most of us use. Twitter is for 20- and 30-somethings who are trying to be hip. Facebook’s kind of… way out there.
  • I have blocked one person on Snapchat. I blocked them because they sent me something every day, even though we didn’t have a streak going. I blocked them because it was getting annoying, not because I don’t like them or was trying to hurt them.
  • Ghosting (making a plan to meet up with someone and then not showing up) is really mean…I’ve never done that. When someone is being mean or inappropriate, that’s when I block them.
  • I don’t really believe in the blocking thing for people I know. I would assume someone didn’t like me if they blocked me. Instead, I like to use the “do not disturb” function on my phone when I want to block content. And yeah, I also block people who I don’t actually know if they try to follow me.
  • I only get notifications for texts within 10 minutes. I don’t have notifications turned on for stuff like Snapchat and Instagram.
  • In 7th grade, I looked at my phone a lot when I was doing HW. It really didn’t help me–it made it so my homework would take way longer. Now I turn my phone on silent when I’m doing my HW.
  • I try not to use my phone when I do my HW, because it slows me down and distracts me. Sometimes I need to use my phone during homework, when I need to ask a friend a question about the work.
  • My phone is mainly for emergencies. I have an iPhone and honestly I don’t think it’s that cool.
  • I got my phone around 6th grade, and now I sometimes wish I didn’t have my phone a little bit. Now, even if I know I won’t need it, I always bring my phone with me. And I’ve noticed my younger sister, who’s now in 6th grade, is always on her phone with group texts and stuff. It has changed her a little bit.
  • I always have my phone on me, just in case I need to use it. Most of the time, I’m using it for music. I try not to use it too much.
  • Most of my friends are on social media, or they play video games all the time. They also talk about it all the time, when they’re not doing it. It’s sometimes a little bit too much.
  • Most of my friends aren’t on social media, but they do play video games. A lot of them play when they get home, before they do their homework. Some of them are addicted–it’s not good.
  • For soccer carpool, one of my friends is always on her phone. She won’t talk, and she won’t listen. We’ll ask her a question, and she won’t answer… I actually like it when whoever’s driving calls her out on it.
  • There should be places in your house (and your car!) that are device-free zones. Think about designating rooms that are regularly used for family time, as device-free zones. Meal times are great for this as well.
  • It doesn’t happen too much where I’ve posted something of someone they didn’t like, or vice versa.
  • Subtweeting: where you post something about someone without using their name, but everyone knows what/who you’re talking about. Even if you don’t know at first who/what someone is talking about, it raises curiosity and stimulates popularity when someone does this. Also you’re saying something behind a screen and you think it’s ok, but the person you’re talking about could be really hurt by your subtweet. If you have a problem with someone, it’s better to say something to them in person.
  • Anonymous apps like KiwiSarahah, and tbh: went around our school for a little while, but not really as popular anymore. Anonymous apps are really tricky–they mean you run a greater risk of having your feelings hurt.
  • I think it’s ok for adults to tell me it’s time to put the phone down. I try to monitor myself, and I think I’m pretty good about it, but sometimes I need reminders. I see some of my friends who I wish their parents would step in more and tell their kids to get off their phones.
  • My twin sneaks his phone a lot. He gets addicted to technology more than I do. I’ve found that if you’re more responsible, you get more privileges.
  • A lot of people say mean things online because they feel more immune to responses from other kids or parents. Not everyone knows who you are, and even if they do know who you are, some people have an online image that is different from what they’re like in person.
  • I know someone who has committed suicide, so I don’t take that as a joke.
  • Sometimes kids are mean in the comments they post.
  • It can be hard to unplug, because a lot of my schoolwork is on the computer. Sometimes I wish I could unplug more and focus more on my friendships, like having conversations on the bus. It’s also super-frustrating when my device dies or goes out of wifi range and I have lots of work to do.
  • I use my phone sometimes to FaceTime friends when I need help with homework. Like, I’ll figure something out with a friend if we were both confused in class, or I’ll ask a friend to catch me up if I missed class…
  • I prefer talking face-to-face over texting. That’s especially true when I’m trying to resolve a disagreement with a friend. Texting almost never works for that, but FaceTime does.
  • It’s nice to hang out on play dates and sleepovers without phones.
  • You can’t always convey sarcasm via text.
  • “I’ve got your cyber-back” is something some kids are saying to each other these days, particularly girls-to-girls. It’s good to be an “upstander” online, especially when you see a friend in need.
  • Sometimes I get into heated exchanges with friends online. It wasn’t a good feeling. But I recently realized that I can put the phone down whenever I want, and not respond for any amount of time I like…it’s a liberating feeling.
  • Sometimes adults forget that technology can bring people closer together.
  • Sometimes I think adults exaggerate and think I’m on my phone way more than I am.
  • I’m not that mad when my parents tell me to get off the phone. I do get upset when I do my homework for a long time (but my parents don’t see/know/acknowledge that), and then I get on my phone for a couple minutes and they say “Get off your phone; go do your homework.”
  • Sometimes I get frustrated when my parents tell me to get off my phone, because I’m in the middle of something (like making plans) that I need a couple minutes to finish… but generally I’m actually kind of glad/relieved when my parents tell me to get off my phone.
  • For a while, I got a little too obsessed with my phone. My parents got a tool that shut off the wifi every night, and that helped me regroup and manage my tech habits better.
  • Even though I don’t have a phone, I still want one. I play outside a lot, and I like to read, but I think I would still do those things with a phone.
  • I think the longer you can wait to get a phone, the better it is. There does come a point where kids’ social lives are impacted by not having a phone. That point comes at different times for different kids. The right time to get a phone really just depends on the kid.
  • I got Instagram on my iPad in 5th grade, but I didn’t get my own phone till 7th grade. I liked doing it that way because when I got my phone, I already had practice with Instagram. I wasn’t compulsively checking it all the time just because I happened to have my phone with me all the time.

Comments are closed.