Josh sat down with seven high school students from Sato Academy of Mathematics and Science in Long Beach, CA. In these episodes we discuss when students should get a phone, how students can work with their parents to solve their own problems, how students can use Snapchat safely, and how students can respond to bullying.
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Key takeaways from the student interview:
- As kids, if parents tell us one thing we’re going to do exactly the opposite
- If your child doesn’t have a lot of self-control you should monitor the amount of time that they spend on their phone
- Parents set an example for their children
- Students live to solve problems. Give them problems to solve before taking away their phone
- Parents should try and learn about Snapchat because this is what their kids are doing. Regardless of whether or not they trust their children
- The most important advice I’ve ever been given in response to bullying on a social media platform and in real life is don’t reply to the bully
When did you get your first phone?
I got my first phone in second grade. I know that’s pretty young but that is because my parents are divorced. I was going from house to house different weekends. I got a flip phone called a Duke that you could flip open. –Megan
I got my first phone in sixth grade. It was like a flip phone but it had a touchscreen. –Eric
I got my first phone in the summer of seventh grade. I went up to Seattle to see my aunts and then I flew alone on the plane so my mom felt it was necessary for me to have a little phone. I got a flip phone and that connected with me with her. –Nate
I got my first phone between 3rd and 4th grade. It was a smartphone. It was because I walked to school. My mom was a “techy” person so she gave me a Galaxy S1. –Brendon
I think it was 4th or 5th grade when I got my first cellphone. The reason I got one is I was going between both sides of my family. They wanted to keep in touch and check up on me to make sure I’m alive. –Kiyo
I got my first phone in the summer after tenth grade. –Sarah
I got my first phone at 7. My parents weren’t together. I used to travel back and forth a lot so they wanted to keep in contact. –Xavier
When did you get social media and what app did you use first?
I got Facebook when I was in fifth grade. It was because I have a divorced family. It was cool to be able to connect with family on both sides. If I went on vacation with one of my families, I could post pictures and connect with them. The important factor was connecting with family that I haven’t really talked to in a while. –Megan
I got social media around sixth grade because I had a girlfriend at that time. She thought it was necessary. –Eric
I got my first Facebook account in sixth grade. My mom wanted to get boosted on Farmville so she got to a much higher level. and I got to play Farmville so that was my first experience with social media. –Nate
I think I got social media around fourth grade. It was MySpace. –Xavier
I joined Snapchat at 16. –Sarah
I got Facebook in third grade. –Kiyo
My mom forced me to get a Facebook account because she wanted the family to always be together. –Brendon
How do teens use Instagram and Snapchat? Which platform do teens prefer?
I use Snapchat more. It’s hard to draw a comparison between Instagram and Snapchat. For me Instagram is a way to connect with people not necessarily for like my own purpose but to help me get somewhere. I’ve had this goal since I was a little kid. Instagram gives me a way to talk to people who have achieved that same goal. Instagram is more of a tool to connect me with real people who have done what I want to do whereas Snapchat is a quick conversation with my friends. –Nate
I see Instagram as your public profile whereas Snapchat is like the iMessage of social media apps. You can check in on people without talking to them directly. –Brendon
Snapchat is more of a personal social media platform. Instagram is for things like live Instagram stories or videos and it’s really cool to be able to jump in on that. You can join these live stories now and chat with whoever you want. –Megan
I don’t spend a lot of time on social media. I spend more time on Instagram but that’s because I’m just DMing my friends. It’s easier for us that way but I feel that Instagram is more permanent. –Sarah
I use Instagram more than Snapchat. I use it to push me further for certain colleges. I want to get into business and I want to go into mechanical engineering. –Kiyo
How much screen time is too much?
As kids, if parents tell us one thing we’re going to do exactly the opposite. That’s our immediate reaction to almost anything. In my experience, my parents are pretty lenient. They trust me. We have good trust in our relationship. What I’ve noticed is from kids whose parents are constantly telling them “Hey get off your phone.” “Hey get off your phone or I’m gonna take your phone before you go to bed.” Those kids are on their phone the most because when they are given the opportunity to be on their phone they are like “Alright, I have to savor all of this time. I have to cram it all in.” That’s not healthy. I feel more and more we need to remember that the more you say not to be on your phone the more kids are gonna want to be on their phones. This is another thing. Parents, you guys are examples. A lot of times we see parents revert to being on their phones constantly and it’s really shaking for us to see them constantly checking their phones in social anxiety evoking situations. For instance I see parents just sitting, waiting in line and they immediately go on their phone to look like they’re doing something because everyone else is. I see parents do that a lot. Then they turn around and tell their kids “Hey stop being on your phone. Stop doing this.” It sends the wrong message. I feel a lot of parents don’t understand that. It’s something important to remember. –Megan
I feel like parents should try to limit screen time in the hopes of preventing their children from getting addicted. I’m not saying that all children will get addicted because there are kids who can use their phone without feeling it’s necessary all the time. Some kids don’t have that self control. If your child doesn’t have a lot of self-control you should monitor the amount of time that they’re on their phone. If your child has exhibited self-control and seems like they’ve got a pretty good handle on the situation you can monitor them less. You should still be aware of how much time they spend but you don’t need to be breathing over their shoulder. –Sarah
It starts with the relationship between the parent and the child. If you’re not trusting your child and you’ve seen that they are trustworthy, they don’t make good use of their time then the phone isn’t the starter. –Brendon
What ideas do you have about self-control?
One family friend’s daughter was getting addicted to her phone. My mom and I suggested for her to go to her daughter and say, “Alright, hey this is the deal. I think that you’re on your phone way too much. First I’m going to let you solve the problem. You figure out how much time you should be on it. You figure out what you’re going to do to combat it. Then come to me and tell me how you’re gonna deal with it.” Practice that for two or three weeks and then see the results. See what happens. If you’re giving your kid trust, they will trust you. –Megan
Student Interview: Part 2
What are some tips for managing screen time?
Students live to solve problems that’s why we’re at this school. Being able to solve your own problems of cell phone or computer addiction really fits in today. Let kids try and figure out their problems on their own and then parents can step in if need be. –Nate
I feel it’s limited based on the student’s age. If you have a child who’s 13 and up, you could have them solve the problem or at least come to you and start brainstorming with you to figure out how to solve the problem. If you have a seven-year-old kid who’s addicted to their cell phone, because from toddler to where they are now they had a device in front of their face constantly, I don’t think they are going to have the ability to come up with a solution on their own. In that case, the parent would have to step in and set limits. I’m not saying take their phone away, don’t give it back to them at all. Work together with the kid. If children are uncooperative then you have to set limits whether the they like it or not. –Sarah
What do you think about waiting until 8th grade to have a smartphone?
I think middle school would be the best time because for me I developed my self-discipline around that time. As people mature, they start to notice things, like “I need to start doing my homework.” My parents don’t need to tell me that I need to do my homework. I have to do it on my own. So, I think middle school would be the best time. –Eric
I feel like earlier on would be a better time because it depends on the relationship. If maintaining contact is a problem, phones are given so that students could be in touch with their parents. For cellphones in general, I don’t think waiting until later on is always the best. Smartphones can be given to students later on. –Xavier
It depends on the situation. If there is no extraneous circumstances then I see no problem with 14 being the age in which you get a smartphone. If your parents are divorced, or you have to bike to school, you need to be able to get in touch with your parents. You should get a basic phone or something that doesn’t allow you to have access to all of the apps. –Sarah
How do you strengthen your bond with your parents around Snapchat?
I think it’s easier for parents to stay away from Snapchat, avoid trying to learn. I feel like trying to learn the ins and out of Snapchat is a lot harder than trusting your child. –Nate
Parents should try and learn about Snapchat because this is what their kids are doing. Regardless of whether or not you trust your child. Parents are doing their best to look out for their children and part of looking out for their children is knowing what their children are getting into. –Sarah
How should students respond to bullies?
A powerful tool built into every single phone, especially with use on Snapchat, is the ability to screenshot. When you screenshot something on Snapchat the other person will get notified. If it keeps happening you have a record of it and you know you’ve deterred them a little bit from doing this because they fear backlash. –Nate
The most important advice I’ve ever been given in response to bullying on a social media platform and in real life is don’t reply. –Megan