Posted on Sun, Feb 12, 2017 under Newsletter, Publications

Dear Students, Parents/Guardians, and Friends of Herron High School,

I have been an educator more than thirty-five years, and with each generation, the media says ‘this is the most difficult time to be a teenager.”  After much reflection, I truly believe that this is the most difficult time to be a teenager.

For generations, students attended school and went home at the end of the day.  While there may have been phone calls from friends in the evenings, the time spent at home was essentially away from the social pressure of being a teenager.  For example, when my two sons were growing up, they took their phone calls in the family kitchen or the family den – it front of my husband and me.  After the phone calls ended, we often asked follow-up questions and had conversations about the issues our sons were facing.

Today, when students ‘leave’ their classmates at the end of the school day, many students immediately hop onto their social media sights and stay connected to their friends until well after they go to bed at night.  Parents are not necessarily present for the teen phone conversations, and the conversations going on via twitter and Facebook are not easily accessible to parents.

The constant barrage of connectivity that our students experience is literally changing the way their brains work, and teenage depression is at an all-time high. Furthermore, in most cases, whatever your student puts “out there” all likelihood stays “out there,” even after the student has deleted a post. Students lose control of content such as photos and comments once something has been sent by instant messaging.

The incessant chatter that our students experience and participate in, certainly, is not all positive.  Perhaps it is our human nature, but students tend to say more hurtful things to their peers through social media than they would say to a peer if they were face to face.  The tragedy of students experiencing this cyber bullying makes national news all too often.

While this is a difficult time to be a teenager in this age of social media, we are taking steps to educate our students about the dangers of having such instant communication at their fingertips.  The adults in our building work hard every day to build a safe and trusting environment.  In Advisory, we provide digital citizenship training each to help students navigate the murky waters of teen life in the digital age.

We will continue to be vigilant about keeping our school as a safe and welcoming place to learn. However, it is much more difficult to control what teenagers say to one another through social media.  Please talk with your child about his/her social media usage and find out where they are interacting.  I strongly urge you to insist that your student ‘friends’ you on Facebook, and allows you to “follow” his/her social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, DeviantArt, and Tumblr accounts.

Warm regards,

Janet H. McNeal, President, Head of School

Complete newsletter here: 2.11.2017 HHS