Common Sense Media Teen Panel 2018
Parents: thank you for a wonderful turnout at this morning’s 8th grade digital media panel, led by Dana Blum from Common Sense Media! Dana and I reflected afterward, that as years go by we’re starting to notice a positive trend: youth generally have greater vocabulary, frameworks, and self-awareness around their tech use. That’s exactly the kind of results we hope to see when it comes to something as complex as supporting students’ development of healthy tech habits! It’s also, we expect, the result of more intentional parenting and teaching. This work is never done; it takes patience, care, and endurance.
Notes from the panelists’ comments are below. Thank you to our 8th grade panelists for such honest wisdom and insight!
I got my phone the summer before 6th grade. It was a special event for me and my family.
I got my phone Christmas of 6th grade. I got it mainly because I needed it to coordinate transportation with my parents.
My parents restrict Safari on my phone. My younger sister does have Safari on her phone because my parents haven’t figured out how to disable it. I know restricting Safari helps keep me safe.
I can do pretty much whatever I want on Snapchat, but I mainly use it for texting. I can text my friends and not get a response, but I know if I message them on Snapchat, they’ll respond right away.
I use Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. I pretty much use Snapchat as my texting platform to all my friends. I don’t think I’ve texted my best friend on iMessage, ever.
I use Instagram to see what’s going on around the world. Instagram has an “explorer” page where you can find out lots of things about what’s going on around the world.
Every morning, I wake up early and watch the news, as well as political commentary on YouTube. I follow movements like Black Lives Matter.
I follow Casey Neistat on YouTube.
Bo Burnham directed the movie 8th Grade. It’s about a girl who’s completely different on the screen than she is in her real life. There are a couple of videos of him on YouTube, where he sings songs that are jokes, like “Sad.”
I play Fortnite on the weekends a bunch, in the morning and at night. I have one friend who I play with a BUNCH, and four or five others who I often also play with.
Fortnite provides a lot of social opportunities, both when playing the game and talking about it at lunch at school.
I see a lot of memes on Instagram mainly. I really like memes. I follow some Instagram accounts that post a lot of memes, so they just show up on my feed. It’s nice, because I can send them to my friends and connect with my friends.
I look up Hamilton memes a lot. And there are a lot of funny political memes.
Sometimes a lot of memes are politically incorrect, and that’s what’s funny about them. They’re just so blatantly incorrect that they’re funny.
While you’re using Instagram, you might see a picture of your friends hanging out and then you feel bad. Other times you can post stuff to Instagram, and come back later for likes, and the likes feel good. There’s both good and bad stuff you can see on Instagram.
Comments like “You’re beautiful” and “You’re gorgeous,” and that feels really good at first. But then I notice other people who have, like, 45 similar comments on theirs, and I wonder, do they really mean it? And if so, what about me--why didn’t I get 45 comments…? I don’t necessarily realize it at the time, but I think I internalize it, and then it comes up later. Sometimes I take breaks from social media, and that helps.
There’s definitely a social media divide between boys and girls. Boys aren’t really commenting “You’re beautiful” on their guy-friends’ selfies, but that happens a lot with girls. Usually girls post and boys observe.
How you feel on social media is based on the person. I don’t look at likes and comments. I look more for what’s going on in the world.
No one on the panel currently uses Twitter.
Our school promotes mindfulness as being aware of what’s going on around us. We really need that with social media and what’s going on in the world.
I think that mindfulness is looking-in and “getting out of yourself.”
On Snapchat, there’s something called streaks. You send pictures day after day with another person. It’s Snapchat’s way to keep you coming back every day.
I use Snapchat mostly for texting, but sometimes I use it for news and trends.
I don’t think there’s so much of a thing as “Snapchat stars” like there are YouTube and Instagram stars. Snapchat content disappears after 24 hours. I use it just to stay in touch with my friends and the world.
One day, I slept-in too long and missed all my streaks. And then I just stopped streaks, and that ended up feeling really good.
Snapchat is the main place that has news media for kids, besides YouTube. On your Snapchat feed, you might see one video that’s news, and then a whole bunch of slime videos or something.
In the new Apple iOS, there’s a new screen-time tool, so I can track how much I’m using my device. I do have a limit, and when I reach it, I’m usually surprised, but it helps to pause and realize it.
It helps to see how much time you’re spending on YouTube vs Snapchat vs Safari…
In our class, we have this one kid who’s played over 4000 hours of video games, and he’s pursuing e-sports to do video games competitively.
I don’t feel I’m addicted to social media. I was allowed to get social media in 5th or 6th grade. I feel I was more addicted when I was younger because it was new, and I wasn’t as aware of how they try to suck you in. Now I am more aware so I’m able to have more balance and boundaries, and that feels good. But there are some people I know, who spend a TON of time still on social media. They do stuff like promoting each other’s accounts (eg “Follow this person!”) so they can get as many followers as possible. They also might post something to their STORY, for followers to go “like” their “new post” in their FEED.
Sometimes, if I take a weekend off from my phone, I feel like I have to spend extra time on Monday catching-up on everything I missed.
My parents had me turn off all my notifications on my phone, which helps keep my phone quiet. If I use social media, it’s mainly for looking at sports and trends.
When I first got Snapchat, I was really into streaks. I was really sad when I lost a 300-day streak! But now I don’t even pay attention to streaks, and I like that better.
If others are talking about something, you kind-of want to know what they’re talking about.
I don’t use social media, but I use YouTube on the weekends.
At my school, we have a decent amount of homework. We use Chromebooks to do our homework and check our assignments. Our school puts blocks on our devices so we don’t get too distracted, but there are ways around that if we really want to. Also my phone can be distracting, but I try to silence it or put it somewhere else while I’m studying.
When it’s a heavy homework night, sometimes I’ll do one assignment and then reward myself with 5-10 minutes on my phone; and repeat each time I finish an assignment. Sometimes it works, and sometimes not. Sometimes I even cheat and check my phone in the middle of an assignment, but I try not to.
I have an app called Forest, where you plant a digital tree, and if you go and check a different app, your tree starts to die.
Sometimes I think I can watch YouTube while watching homework, but in truth I realize that never works. It can make a 10-minute assignment take a half-hour. We can’t really multitask with efficiency.
With writing or reading, I can’t have background noise. Sometimes I put on noise-cancelling headphones WITHOUT music or sound, when I’m reading and writing. But with something like are, I might put on a YouTube video in the background while I’m working.
Building trust with parents is really important with technology. It’s a give-and-take. I don’t feel like they’re trying to be super-strict or punish me; I feel like they trust me and want to take care of me.
There IS a certain level of privacy that I want. I want to be able to post stuff to my friends, without my mom seeing all those posts. But I get that my parents need to make sure I’m mature enough to handle some of the stuff that’s out there.
Parent involvement really comes down to whether your parent trusts you. You can tell when your parent doesn’t trust you.
I feel like sometimes parents ask what we’re doing online just because they want to KNOW what we’re up to and interested-in, but it ends up feeling like they are trying to police us.
I didn’t get a phone till 8th grade. In 6th & 7th grade, sometimes I felt a little excluded, but I didn’t feel like it had a negative impact on my friendships. There were certain ways I couldn’t communicate with people for a while, but I still had my friends.
I have some friends whom I FaceTime with more than others. FaceTime is nice because I can convey tone without wasting energy on texting.
I tend to FaceTime people I see all the time, instead of people I rarely see.
One of my friends has a phone, but literally never checks it--it’s almost like she doesn’t have one. But she still has friends; we just know not to try to contact her on her phone!
Because we have phones, we’re able to contact each other and connect more. It’s brought me closer with my friends AND my mom.
I felt left out on the last day of camp, when everyone had phones and were exchanging phone numbers, and I was like “Hey, does anyone wanna have my email?!” :-)
I have a friend who doesn’t use social media, but it’s fine because I see them every day on the bus, at school, etc. But there are also some friends I’ve gotten closer with because we both have phones.