martha (@mburtis): Last night I sat through the strangest program I’ve ever experienced as part of my kiddo’s “move up” night for HS.

It came from a good place: caring for kids and being mindful of the particular mental health stresses that they are experiencing that are troubling and unique.

martha (@mburtis): Generally speaking, this is a topic that I care deeply about. So much to learn about, to unpack. So much nuance and complexity.

The program was. . .not great at acknowledging this. Perhaps because it was shortened. I think it's usually more than the hour that was alotted.

martha (@mburtis): First sign that something might be off was the letter that went home that said we would be talking about the “petri dish” that our students were living in. I didn’t understand the metaphor. Are we saying they’re being experimented on? Or that they’re germy?

martha (@mburtis): At the presentation itself the message seemed muddled and contradictory. Very compelling one-on-one video with HS studnets talking about stress of school, pressure from parents and adults. Message seemed to be “back off,” give them space, be patient and kind.

martha (@mburtis): But then also this undercurrent of “when we were kids if we failed our parents would tell me we better study harder next time!”—so also “hold them accountable” and “have consequences”

martha (@mburtis): I think these approaches can possibly co-exist, but it takes nuance and finesse. Which there wasn’t convo abt.

In addition there was lots of talk about technology. A LOT. Including the statement several times that “social emotional connection can’t happen with screens"

martha (@mburtis): Not suprisingly, I object strongly to that statement.

First, what do we mean by “screens” — is my kiddo Zooming with friends back in Virginia every week during Covid engaging in dangerous screentime?

Is the time he spends on personal coding projects on his laptop problematic?

martha (@mburtis): What they were really talking about, I think, was social media. And there are lots of compelling studies suggesting teens relationships with social media are fraught and often very unhealthy.

But let’s name the real problem and let’s talk about the real evidence.

martha (@mburtis): A few times, the presenters let audience members speak and, not suprisingly, the things people said were wildly diverese and often contradictory. But there was no way to synthesize that or make sense of it.

martha (@mburtis): As someone who cares deeply about both mental health issues and digital identity/literacy, it was jsut. . .disheartening to see a program that was meant to educate fall short. I worry that the message parents took away from the event was not helpful and maybe harmful.

martha (@mburtis): I’m not naming the presenters, b/c, again, I think their intentions were/are very good and, again, some of what I objected too could have been b/c the program was shortened.

martha (@mburtis): Anyway, I just had to vent about this and I couldn’t do it in real-time b/c given the “anti-screen” message if I had spent the program on my phone sub-tweeting all this I think they would have called on me and I would have told them I was spending the program sub-tweeting them.

martha (@mburtis): That would have been awkward.