Is Social Media harming adolescent development?

According the CNN article, Why some 13 year old check social media 100 times a day, “”I would rather not eat for a week than get my phone taken away. It’s really bad,” said Gia, a13-year-old. “I literally feel like I’m going to die.” She along with 200 other teen volunteers across the United States participated in a national study by child development experts  trying to figure out… what kids actually say to each other on social media and why it matters so deeply to them.”  I was quite interested in this article and the study because as a middle and high school teacher, I see first hand my student’s obsession with social media. I have lost count how many times in each class I have told my students to stop taking selfies or videos and to put their cell phones away. They really are obsessed with the social media and what their peers are doing or saying online about them or other students. They are always looking for the next big thing or excitement or gossip.  I am reminded of this when I witness a fight on my way home from work. Before hitting the high way I have to drive through a middle school and another high school which is within 4 blocks from my own school.  While driving through the school zone, I noticed a horde of kids with the phones out, videotaping something. At first I didn’t see the fight on my left because I was focused on the kids right side. I wanted to make sure they were not going to walk out in front of car and into the streets as it is their habit. I saw two boys fighting when I followed their line of vision. They looked like high school kids. One was breathing heavily and the other had his shirt off. They were swinging at each other, and the one with the shirt off got hit and fell in the street. I couldn’t drive because there were cars in front of me and the other drivers  were yelling at the kids to stop fighting.  The bystander continued to film the action while I tried to shout out my student’s name to get his attention, but the crowd was too noisy and I was not close enough to my student. In hindsight I should have called the police but I was too busy trying to get my student’s attention to tell him to leave and go home.  

With all kids filming with their phones, I’m pretty sure this fight was shared and talked about over a hundred times. When you think about it, can you blame these kids? This is the world they were born into. It’s what they know and are used to.  According to the one of the child psychologist, Marion Underwood,”…they’re addicted to the peer connection and affirmation they’re able to get via social media… To know what each other are doing, where they stand, to know how many people like what they posted, to know how many people followed them today and unfollowed them … that I think is highly addictive.” Of course this makes perfect sense because they are still developing their identity and self-worth and yes, their peers opinions matter more to them then that of their parents or teachers. All we can do is let them know we are there if they need us or have questions.

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Middle School and High School kids filming the fight.

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One of my student filming the fight. He is the one in the baseball cap.

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Military Diet

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Last week my daughter and I did the 3 day military diet to jump start our health and fitness commitment. When we started this, we did not expect to lose anything even though it says you can lose up to 10 pounds on the diet. After three days, I only lost one pound and that is without cheating. My daughter cheated but she didn’t weigh herself. As with any diet, it depends on the person and the commitment. Before starting any diet it is best to go to a primary care provider and get your blood work done so you know what shape you in. A blood work is good to do because according to the website, Everyday Health, ” … [A ] common blood test is the basic metabolic panel to check your heart, kidney and liver function by looking at your blood glucose, calcium, and electrolyte levels. And to check for heart disease risk, you may have a lipoprotein panel that measures levels of fats in your blood, like good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), and triglycerides.” All these are important to know and have so that you can see if you have made any improvements in your health during your diet and fitness commitment. Sometimes, we get so obsessed with the numbers on the scale that we forget that the pounds may not drop as fast as we want but we may have gotten healthier. Like they say, your blood work don’t lie.

Here is what my daughter and I have learned from our three day experience. We noticed that the military diet, helped us become more cognizant of our portion size. We also realize that we didn’t miss all the salt and sauces so much that we would normally put on our food.  And we both agree that during the week while we are at work and school, we will stick to the breakfast and lunch suggestion. We may change it around for variety. For example, we may have toast with peanut butter and an apple instead of toast and an egg.

Here an example of breakfast.

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Here’s lunch!

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And dinner samples. I used Nathan’s reduce fat hotdogs!

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This small steak, fruits and green beans was filling

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And yes you can have ice cream!

If you would like to read the full article about blood work, here it is: 10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Blood Work

 

 

Drugs and Mental Illness: Teen Voice

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As a senior, my daughter has to do a senior project which is a graduation  requirement. For the project, she has to write a research paper, have some kind of product and do a presentation.

 After careful consideration and much soul searching she decided to settle on mental illness and drug addiction because of her uncle, who is dealing with both issues.  I wanted to share her first paragraph with you. This description is based on what happened when we went to drop off some food to my brother in a 30 day drug clinic. That night she did not go in because she said it would break her heart to see her uncle in such a depressing state. She stayed in the car while I ran down and drop off some of his favorite things. I was not allowed to visit him for too long, just enough to give him a hug and the food.  I’m sharing a part of her writing in hopes that you will get a glimpse of what families go through when they have a loved one in crisis.
“The fluorescent lights shone out of the building touching the dark night sky, like a beacon to the lost. The parking lot was empty except for the beat up toyota that belonged to the family. A nurse from inside waved away the family as they left. The drive home was as quiet as their surroundings, as the previous moments were heavy with sadness. Having a family member with a drug addiction did not just affect the user. It was as toxic as the drugs used. Having a family member with a mental illness was inexplicably hard. Having a family member or friend with both is unimaginably difficult.”
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Her water color that she did as part of her presentation, depicting a drug addict.

 

First Year Teacher Experience

 

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Club members

Here is an interview one of my Education Profession did. I’m posting to give you a little insight into what teacher’s do,think or feel. 

First year teacher, Economics

1) Why did you choose teaching as a professional career?

In my case, I have wanted to be a teacher for a very long time (since 2nd Grade). The only other thing I ever wanted to be was a Power Ranger. At a young age, I just always appreciated what teachers did for students and the lengths they went to in order to see their students succeed. I appreciated it so much that I wanted to be able to do the same thing for others. I am very thankful that I get to live my dream.

2) Did you feel prepared to teach when you first started? What would you do differently if you were to start your preparation now?

Well this is my first year and I am going on my fourth week so I am still fairly new. At this point, I would have put all classes into a seating chart sooner, instead of waiting for my classes to shrink. This would have helped me get to know my students names faster.

3) How long have you been teaching? How long have you known this is what you wanted to do for your life’s work?

This is my first year. I have known I have wanted to do this since Second Grade.

4) What are the most difficult challenges you are facing right now? How can I avoid them?

The biggest struggle I am facing is keeping that boundary between teacher and student. Since I am not much older than my students, it is very important that I reiterate where that border is. Unfortunately for you, I do not think you can avoid that. You will be a young teacher someday as well. If you teach junior high or elementary it will be easier, but if you teach high school, this is kind of the way it is when you are young.

5) Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor? If you are, how is this working out?

My mentor is Mr. Franz. He mentors all teachers within their first three years. It is going quite well at this point, he is always quick to compliment and offer constructive criticism to help myself and the other new teachers do our jobs better. I am not a mentor to any other teachers right now since I am new, but I do mentor/sponsor the freshman class. Right now, it is going well and I am very excited to see what those kids can do.

6) What types of professional development have you participated in as a teacher? Please describe your involvement in each of the following:

  1. a) professional organizations – I was a member of Kappa Delta Pi in college, an honor society for teachers. We met monthly and discussed issues in education and planned campus events for those interested in the field of education.
  2. b) teacher research – I have not done much research at this point-in-time other than researching my subject to present it better to students. I did a lot of research in college though on different educational theories that are out there.
  3. c) team teaching – I have never been in a team teaching situation. I did take an integrated Honors History and Honors English class in high school though during my sophomore and junior years. Sophomore year the team that I had teaching me worked phenomenally together. They knew what they were doing and did a lot of collaborating for the success of the classroom. Junior year, the team teachers were not nearly as close knit but still very qualified and really enjoyed their work.

7) What advice do you have for me as I think about becoming a teacher?

Always take mental notes on things your teachers do that you like and do not like. Also, always be gracious and observant to the teachers that welcome you into their classroom while you are working on your education degree. And never be afraid to use another teacher’s lesson plan in your classroom. The biggest thieves in the world are teachers as we believe you do not need to recreate the wheel. If the resources are out there and another teacher is willing to share USE IT!!!!

Don’t be a lousy Lao person!

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Traditional Lao dress, “Sinh”

You know what annoys me the most about  some Laotian women is when they make contradictory statements like, ” I am a traditional Lao woman” or “Have respect for our culture and not show off your body” but then they themselves proceed to post pics of themselves frolicking in a string bikini on the beach or pouting pics of themselves that pretty much says, ” Come get me.” I think that is being very hypercritical of other Laotian women who may not wear sinh everyday or traditional Lao clothes. You can’t lecture people about having pride in being a traditional Laotian woman while posting half naked pics of yourself on Facebook or other social media.

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*** This picture was taken last year when my friend, pictured here, and I went to the public library in Providence to tell other people about Lao textile and give young kids the opportunity to try out some traditional clothes.

Besides, what does being a traditional Laotian woman mean anymore? Does that mean you sit at home cooking, cleaning, and obeying your husband? Well, some of us can’t afford to that that anymore, especially us, single mothers who has to work to feed and clothe our children.

And furthermore, what does being proud of your culture mean? Does it mean you have you walk around wearing sinh everyday?  Does it mean eating Lao food all the time?  Do people even know what Lao and proud mean?  We can’t tell other people,” Don’t be a lousy Lao person” when we are not perfect ourselves. Why don’t we try to just be a good human being everyday?

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My friend, the president of LCC and my daughter, Anora  who is half Spanish and half Lao. We do our part in telling other people about our culture and ethnicity but we also are proud to be Americans.

 

I love myself but let me get fake boobies!

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*** Yes, one day I may want bigger boobs and when that day comes, I sure will be upfront about it instead of pretending that FINALLY I have reached puberty at 44!!”

Why do women say shit like, ” I love myself unconditionally” then proceed to go get fake boobs or fake ass or fake nose or whatever body parts they want. It makes them look so stupid to say things like that when everybody knows what they got done! Instead why can’t they be honest and say, ” I love myself but you know what, bigger boobs and ass will make me even more  happier!”  Besides, some of us may want to know who did your boobs so we can get some ourselves!

Boys and puberty stinks!

 

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” Austin you need to put deodorant on because you are stinking up this car!” My daughter, the blunt one yells at her brother as he got in the car. I have to admit she was right but she didn’t have to be so rude about it! I gave her the evil eye before turning to my son in the backseat and said in a more gentler tone, ” Son, you do need to put deodorant on.” According to the website, Sutter Health , during puberty, boys will go through many physical changes such as growth spurt, acne, facial and underarm hair and genitalia growth just to name a few things.

I don’t about the rest of you but growing up in a Lao household, puberty was not something we discuss openly. So I didn’t have a point of reference to fall back on except my own experience with my daughter. When my daughter hit puberty, I was candid with her because my mother never talked about periods, pubic hair, or boobs! However, being a single mom, with no man in the house, I was struggling with how to tell my son about what his body was going to go through once he hits puberty. Should I be as candid? Should I just blurt out, ” Son your balls and penis will grow during this time? Your voice will squeak and yes you may grow man boobs?” Even though I prize myself for being a “modern” Lao woman and mom, I just couldn’t bring myself to say those things to my son so I consult with my teenage daughter about how I should talk to Austin about puberty. She reassured me and said, ” Mom leave this up to me. I’ll take care of it!” Little did I know that she would be so blunt about it that she verged on being crude!

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I remember clear as day what  Anora, my daughter’s puberty “talk” with her brother consisted of. There we were driving around looking for a place to have lunch when she turned to her brother and said, ” Austin, I just wanted to let you know that mom and I are here for you if you have any questions about puberty. You know boys your age, will probably start masturbating and stuff like that so don’t worry we will not invade your privacy if you feel the need to!”  Looking back I don’t know WHY I was so shock by what she said to her brother considering how upfront she is but I was still SHOCKED!” I gave her that ” Are you on crack?” look and she responded with, ” Hello mother, you said talk to him about puberty!” I exclaimed, ” Yes, but about acne, and body hair and shit like that!” Just when my daughter and I was about to continue our heated argument, my son Austin, calmly announced, “My class was given the puberty talk last month so…” Well, that took the wind out of our sail and I responded, “Well, I’m glad they did but if you have anymore questions ask me and not your crazy sister!”

The point of the story is, just be honest with your child about puberty and do not leave them in the dark even though puberty can be an embarrassing topic to bring up!