Teen Mental Health

The original article: “With Teen Mental Health Deteriorating Over Five Years, There’s A Likely Culprit“, from TheConversation.com, was posted on Facebook by Ruby K Payne.

One of my facebook friends responded with :

Mr. G, this is not the first article or story I’ve read about the horrible effects of tech. I always wonder why when I confront the school district with empirical evidence proving my point they damn near stroke out defending the use of tech in the district. Yet, when I have asked them to provide me evidence to support the use of tech in kids and teens they never ever ever produce anything.

My response:

Used properly, technology can be a great educational tool. The Macbooks and the apps/programs students have access to through the school are great for research via search engines, for writing better papers with document processing, organizing data/numbers in spreadsheets, organizing thoughts, data and research for presentations with slide projecting programs, using collaboration tools with groups of students on a project, or even communicating with other students, classes and schools, locally to even around the world.

In our music classes, we use some fantastic Internet-based programs to teach Music Theory where students can practice learning and hearing notes, intervals, chords rhythms and more. We save making thousands of copies of music for pep band by scanning that music and downloading it onto iPads that our bands use to rehearse and at the games.

I won at $3000 grant for an Internet-based program to help students practice from a collection of thousands of exercises. With it they can practice and see on screen what individual mistakes they are making. For solo work, they can hear the piano accompaniment and some of our band arrangements are on there so that an individual can see and play his/her part while listening to the rest of the band. Amazing stuff.

The PROBLEM comes with what students do with the rest of their time. For personal stuff, most of the h/s students use their phones for music, texting, chatting, social media, etc. They come to class with one earbud in and, if teachers (me included) aren’t careful and vigilant, they can be listening to something else instead of participating in class (although that is harder to do in band class).

They will need to be proficient and comfortable with technology in just about any job they get past h/s, so I totally support utilizing it as part of what we do in that bigger picture.

The EXCESS and OVERUSE is (my opinion, not research) happening outside of school hours. That is where parental oversight becomes more important. This particular article seems to be targeting that excessive use as the culprit, not the general use.

I’m sure there are teachers not utilizing much technology in their classrooms. I don’t fault that. Some need to do a better job of ensuring time designated for completing projects and assignments during class time is properly used.

I’m glad you’re involved with the school system. Keep doing that. Before I was hired, and while our sons were in the system, we discovered that, for the most part, the system works…..but we had to constantly work the system.

And now I’m off to church, where I’ll use my phone to look up and follow along as the pastor does his scripture reading. 

17 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don't add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today's teenage achievers and with those who work with them. Also 4yrs as proprietor of VirtualMusicOffice.com, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting - specializing in school product fundraising.