School counselor helps students and parents navigate social media

School counselor helps students and parents navigate social media ahead of new school year.
Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 7:21 PM CDT
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RIVERDALE, Iowa (KWQC) - Students across the Quad Cities area will be returning to school over the next couple of weeks. Their backpacks will contain the usual supplies but also cell phones with social media.

Policies for phones at school vary between districts and even classrooms depending on the instructor. The school counselor at Pleasant Valley High School, Ellie Thomas, says her school requires that phones be put away during instructional time in classrooms.

A teacher at Pleasant Valley High School said she usually does not have an issue with students complying with the request to put their phones away. She added some teachers provide phone chargers to encourage them to do so.

Although there may not be a serious concern with phone use during class, phone usage at home may still affect performance.

“Now, students are so used to spending more time on their phones that we see time management issues,” Thomas said, “It’s easy to go home and spend two hours checking videos or scrolling and then suddenly not have enough time to get homework done.”

Thomas mentioned that students may not realize posts online can be permanent and that anyone may be able to see them.

“We have a lot of conversations about safety as well,” Thomas said, “Making sure that students don’t readily give out personal information if it is someone they don’t know.”

New generations of high school students may actually be catching on to the dangers of social media, according to Thomas.

“I think they are pretty resilient,” Thomas said, “I think a lot of them have seen situations arise and I think as they have gotten older they have become a little more careful with what they are putting out there.”

Pleasant Valley High School provided a tip sheet to families outlining ways they can reduce the effects of phone usage and social media. Listed below are some of the tips included on the sheet:

  • Follow your children on social media.
  • Know their names and passwords.
  • Conduct a weekly phone audit.
  • Designate no screen zones in the house, like at the dinner table and in the bedroom.
  • Set rules like no screen time until homework is completed.