Common Sense Media Marin Teen Panel: 11/7/16

We had a great turnout for this morning’s 8th grade panel. Consistent with what we see in our work with students, the panelists represented a wide variety of perspectives and relationships with technology. Below are notes from what the panelists said. We recommend that, as you read through them, you think about which perspectives align most closely with your child/ren and family culture around technology.

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HOME TECH CULTURE:

  • Turn phone onto airplane mode while I sleep; check it in the car on my way to school. Phone stays put away while at school. School day starts with Chromebook at school–check email to make sure I didn’t forget HW assignments.
  • Home rules around devices: since I’ve matured and proven my responsibility with technology, I get to FaceTime my friends just for fun. I didn’t get to do that before–it started with texting. I like getting to see my friends’ faces on FaceTime, though, because it feels more like that physical face-to-face connection.
  • Best and worst of technology: best is the “school part”–it’s helpful to have HW assignments all in one place. In my younger years, you had to remember every paper to take home and if you lost it, you just didn’t have it. But now with technology you can’t really forget anything; it’s really easy.
  • If you were the parent, what rules would be useful to set that are not currently in place? What about at school, or with friends? And which rules do you think are not helpful.
    • Having support at school is great–I really like that they’re not “out to get me;” they’re trying to help me learn healthy ways to use technology.
    • Rules are different for my mom’s house vs my dad’s–I actually prefer the stricter rules at my mom’s house because it helps me build discipline and responsibility. I find myself wanting to do that also at my dad’s house, where my siblings and I are allowed more screen time for video games and such.
  • When I get a text or Snapchat message, if I’m busy (doing something I enjoy), I let myself forget about it and check it later. If I’m doing HW, I’m more likely to check it sooner as a break or brief distraction.
  • I actually like time to myself, so I turn off my phone a lot so I don’t have to answer calls or texts all the time.
  • I never respond to anyone’s texts, so people don’t expect me to respond right away (or ever).
  • My parents do check my phone and texts regularly, just to make sure things are ok. I know my parents trust me; I also know that others might send me stuff that’s not great and it makes me feel safe to know they’re involved.
  • I think it’s important to have privacy–kids can delete stuff they don’t want their parents to see. It’s better to have a relationship where I’ll talk to my parents if something’s wrong, instead of them trying to find it on my phone.
  • Your parents won’t always be there to check, so it’s helpful to get practice handling tough situations on my own (and get my parents’ help if I need it).
  • It’s good for parents to check, and it’s good for parents to let you know that they’re checking. It wouldn’t be good for them to go behind my back. It’s also good for parents to understand how to use the apps and sites their kids are using.
  • I wouldn’t want my parents to check my tumblr account–that’s where I vent and post stuff that I wouldn’t really want my parents to see. I think it depends on the kid and the app or site, whether or not it’s a good thing for your parent to be involved.
  • Sometimes younger or less mature kids need more parent involvement. Regardless, it should ALWAYS be with the kid knowing–never spying/behind their back.
  • I think that whoever pays the phone bill should have access to the device, but maybe not ALL the content in each app. Privacy should be a right with all people.

 

MULTITASKING:

  • Removing the phone from the room is helpful when I’m doing HW.
  • I get all my work done on time, and I’m able to respond to people sometimes in the midst of doing my work. I really think it depends on the person–some people can do that; others have a harder time.
  • I have pretty severe ADHD and I don’t take medication for it, but when I’m alone in my room doing HW, I need to reset my brain every 30 minutes or so. So I work continuously for 30 or 60 minutes, then I take a break to watch TV or do chores or talk to my family.
  • Research (Stanford, Hopkins) shows that neither adults nor kids can multitask efficiently. The reality is that you are losing time and energy “switching” tasks frequently. But the idea of working for a continuous, focused period of time, and then taking a break to reset, is valuable.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA:

  • I don’t have any social media. I don’t have a phone. I don’t particularly feel the need for a phone; my family hasn’t chimed in on that, I just feel like I can manage my life without my phone. I see my friends at school and it’s nice to have some time away from them at home.
  • As a trans and gay person, it’s hard to find people like me in person. Many people my age aren’t out or around. With social media, I can connect with people who are like me.
  • I’m also gay–I came out when I was really young. I don’t use social media to try to meet people in a creepy way; I use it to build healthy, functional relationships with people who I build friends with.
  • Instagram allows me to be creative with photography and making my feed “look pretty.” It really excites me–I really love it.
  • The only social media I have is Instagram. It started with photography; I like making my feed look pretty, too. I also use it sometimes to communicate with my friends. It’s an easy way to stay in touch with people.
  • I like to use Snapchat because it’s quick and fun. I usually feel worse about myself when I go on Instagram, because everyone is posting certain images of themselves, and then I end up comparing myself to them and not feeling great about myself. So I avoid that and lean more toward Snapchat.
  • Instagram is more formal; I feel like I can have better, more casual conversations on Snapchat.
  • Photo apps tend to be more female-driven, especially Instagram. For every one photo posted to Instagram by young people, there is an average of 100 taken. That is less the case for Snapchat.
  • My friends feel pressure to respond to all their friends’ photos on Instagram. A lot of them deleted their accounts because it got too overwhelming.
  • Some of my friends do photo shoots to try to get a good photo to post to Instagram. They try to make themselves look their best, or be the most artsy.
  • I like to watch soccer videos on Instagram. I also have my own camera and I like photography, so I do Instagram much more than Snapchat.
  • Some people just try to send stuff on Snapchat to get their numbers higher. There’s no real meaning or substance behind what they’re sending.
  • Since I don’t use social media, I spend a lot of my time building. I build model sets for movies, models of my house, etc–I love building!
  • I love spending my free time outside, not glued to my social media. It helps me feel more relaxed.

 

TECH ADVICE FOR YOUNGER KIDS:

  • Don’t post anything that you might possibly regret. Or just opt-out of social media. You can text with your friends or just see them at school.
  • If you connect with people you don’t know on social media, be careful and make sure you’re connecting about the RIGHT things–providing support, connecting with people who are like you to help you feel less alone.
  • You can have good and bad experiences with people you connect with in online games. Blocking the bad people can be tricky because they just make another account and find you again. Sometimes I just create a different account so they can’t find me.
  • Don’t abuse the privilege of having a phone.
  • If you have a phone, don’t text your friends about someone else. Even if you delete it, someone else may still have it and they could show it to other people. Feelings end up getting hurt.
  • Try to be present with your friends when you can. As 8th an grader, we’ll all be at different schools next year, and I want to enjoy my time I have in person with my classmates this year.

 

TECH SUPPORT & GUIDANCE:

  • Who do you talk to when something goes wrong online?
    • My school.
    • My parents.
    • My therapist. She’s neutral and objective, she’s an expert, she doesn’t judge, and she’s often more reliable than my friends.
  • There are trolls online who are specifically there to get people angry. They follow you around to harass and incite you. It’s important to have someone you trust to turn to if/when that happens.
  • I’m not sure I would go to someone if something happened online with someone I don’t know–I probably wouldn’t care as much. I would go to my parents if something happened with someone I do know.

 

SEXTING:

  • Sexting hasn’t really been a problem at my school so far, as far as I’m aware.
  • Sometimes friends-of-friends will add me on Snapchat and then after a week start saying things like “Wow, you’re hot,” and try to provoke me. But I don’t use technology that way. Some of my friends, and even my brother, do more sexting sometimes, but I think that sex is a really intimate thing that shouldn’t be shared over technology. I think that it’s weird that people think the anonymity of technology somehow makes it “safer” to make bad choices or take risks.

 

YOUR ONLINE SELF VS YOUR “REAL” SELF:

  • I try to be the same online as I am in person. There are a couple people I know who are really nice in person but are nasty in person (or vice versa), and it makes me think of them differently, like they’re fake or phony. If you’re consistent in the different parts of your life, you probably have stronger character.
  • Apps like Facetune allow people to adjust their bodies or faces to make themselves appear more attractive than they look in real life.
  • People spend a lot of time swooping their hair over or changing angles to get the right photo. People even go to a lot of trouble to think about taking a photo with the right backdrop.
  • I’m probably different online than I am in person. I like being able to go to different “places” on the Internet and explore different parts of myself.

 

TECH ADDICTION:

  • All my friends have lots of interests that they’re passionate about, so they’re not spending all their time on social media or video games.
  • I think the stereotype is that teens are always on their phones or computers, but I also surround myself with people who have lots of different interests. “Addiction” is a strong word and I’m not sure I know anyone who’s really addicted to technology.
  • I don’t know if my friends are addicted, but some of them are constantly on Snapchat, even when we’re hanging out in person, and it’s hard to have a conversation with them when that’s happening.
  • I have some friends who play video games for 30 hours per week. That’s ALL they do. I’ve lost some friendships because of video games. That’s all they wanted to do, so there wasn’t room for our friendship anymore.
  • The dopamine response connected with many social media apps and video games is really powerful; sometimes kids need help managing that.
  • People are age often make plans to do something that looks really cool, like surfing or walking around downtown SF without parents, JUST to generate content for social media posts. It’s kind of sad. I miss living in the moment. I recently discovered yoga, and I’ve been putting my phone down more.
  • A lot of times, when a person feels awkward or uncomfortable, our first instinct is to go to our phone. I think that’s kind of sad, but it helps me feel better that I even recognize it.

 

POSITIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY:

  • App where people can sign up to sit with different table groups while at lunch, so it helps people not feel isolated during lunch.
  • App to tackle gender violence in India
  • App where if a woman is walking home alone, she can hold a button and if she lets go it notifies emergency officials and pings her location.
  • It’s great that some people want to use technology to help other people or make a positive impact on the world.
  • Hashtags like #notmyculture (anti rape culture) help spark positive cultural movements.
  • Petition websites like change.org help rally groups to correct things that are wrong.
  • Go Fund Me can help people, like if you have cancer and need money to help pay your medical bills.

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