In her recent book with a very long title*, Jean M. Twenge takes a look at how members of iGen (today’s teens and young adults) are vastly different from their Millennial predecessors. This is the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. With social media and texting replacing other activities, iGens spend less time with their friends in person which has contributed to spikes in adolescent anxiety, depression and loneliness.
St. Thomas Aquinas High School faculty and staff are not only aware of this trend among students but strive to redirect it. In addition to depositing their cell phones in a designated repository before class time, STA students spend time discussing how the impact of cell phone use relates to them and their lives. Yesterday, the STA Guidance Department delved into the risks of online activity with the Class of 2021 in particular.
In an interactive polling process regarding social media, freshmen answered tough questions, questions that prompted them to admit if they had ever participated in a “regrettable” online incident. The resulting conversation evoked an honest look at how posts, texts, and videos can serve as either a positive or negative architect of a student’s future. Netflix features such as “Audrey and Daisy” and “13 Reasons Why” were used by staff as discussion entryways into real-life scenarios such as the wrongful death lawsuit against teen Michelle Carter.
A social media presence can and will be a very valuable tool for this generation of young adults, especially as they begin to apply to colleges and forge careers. How to develop a responsible presence is something that St. Thomas Aquinas believes is vital to ensuring our students are well prepared and can meet tomorrow’s expectations successfully. This element of education transcends classroom walls and, as with all things at St. Thomas Aquinas, prepares our Saints not just for school… but for life.