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Topic: What Parents Should Know About Social Media & Technology and Your Middle Schooler—speaker
Date: November 13
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: JPS Media Center

We started off our meeting with a brief overview from Beth Staats, a JPS parent and a librarian with Minitex at the University Minnesota Libraries. She works closely with the Electronic Library for Minnesota and Ebooks Minnesota. These are two free resources for all residents of Minnesota that offer everything from full-text research materials to 8,000 ebooks. They make a wonderful alternative to Google for anyone working on research papers or projects.

ELM (Electronic Library for Minnesota) gives Minnesota residents online access to magazine, journal, newspaper, and encyclopedia articles, eBooks (online books), and other information resources. ELM provides information on a vast array of topics, including consumer information, arts and humanities, current events, health, science, social science, politics, business, and more.

Ebooks Minnesota is an online ebook collection for all Minnesotans. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects for readers of all ages, and features content from our state's independent publishers, including some of our best literature and nonfiction. Ebooks Minnesota is a joint project of Minitex and the Minnesota Department of Education, State Library Services. The collection was made possible in part by funding from the Minnesota Department of Education through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Christy Kujawa, an MPS parent educator, began our presentation about teens and technology. She has a passion for both neuroscience and technology and has spent a number of years delving into how our teens, who are the first generation of digital natives, navigate their world.

Technology offers amazing opportunities, unlimited information, stronger social connections, and the ability for parents to connect easily with their kids. But for teens, technology can also mean opportunities without limits, instant gratification, sometimes weaker social connections, and easy access to their parents, which means they are less likely to develop some life skills or to advocate for themselves.

Here are a few of the areas Christy Kujawa covered. For more information, please see the accompanying handouts at the bottom of this page.

  • In the digital economy, companies are seeking attention, and a lot of money is being spent to gain that attention.
  • Technology is not good or bad, just very powerful.
  • Teen brains are still developing. We learn things based on repetition, and we have a Pavlovian reaction to certain stimuli. Technology uses certain synaptic connections frequently, and ones that aren’t being used in the brain tend to be “pruned” away.
  • Teens haven’t fully developed empathy and don’t always recognize emotions because they aren’t connecting socially face-to-face.
  • We need to consider the opportunity costs—how do we balance technology use? As parents, we need to be connected, be involved, and set limits. Most often teens are missing out on sleep, nature, family time, creativity, exercise, and boredom—which inspires creativity and problem solving.
  • Phones in bedrooms can be disruptive to the sleep cycle. One study showed that kids who kept devices in their rooms had very light sleep patterns, much like doctors who are on-call. They need deep restorative sleep to process what they are learning throughout the day.
  • The newest Apple operating system has a screen-time monitoring function under settings to help limit screen time.

Tips for parents:

  • Be aware of content. Know what your kids are involved in.
  • Friend them, but don’t post.
  • Join in—parents can play Fortnite and Pokemon Go too!
  • Be approachable and willing to talk.
  • Teach positive sex education.
  • Talk to your children about digital citizenship, digital discipline, and their digital footprint.
  • Be consistent.

Some useful websites:


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