It’s Cool to be the Uncool Parent

Today, Equalman sits down with the superintendent of Baldwin Union Free School District on Long Island, New York, Shari Camhi, PhD. Dr. Camhi also served as the past-president of AASA, the national School Superintendents Association. Her innovative approach to education and career exploration programs have been recognized and published by The Hill, Education Week, Education Dive, The Hechinger Report, and US News and World Report. Equalman and Dr. Camhi speak on the impacts social media has on children in school, why her school district has made “media literacy” a graduation requirement, and how parents should make informed decisions when it comes to their children joining a social media platform.

Need a sneak peek? Below are the main takeaways from the episode.

It’s Cool to be the Uncool Parent with Dr. Shari Camhi

Episode Preview:

So I think that we take precautions for our kids with a lot of things, some of which you mentioned. There are certainly age restrictions on what we allow our kids to watch on TV and in the movies. We do this all the time. I think in part, we do it to help parents. We do it to certainly protect our kids. This is an example of something that we have just allowed to happen without any precautions whatsoever.

I think there’s a bunch of specific precautions. But what I do know is that our parents are asking us for help. Our parents are asking us for assistance in protecting their kids. I don’t think that they are specifically saying, there are some, obviously, give us a law, give us this. I don’t know a single parent who is not looking for assistance in protecting their kids right now. No, I agree 100%. And knowing we’re dealing with it here now, there is no law. Personally, I think there should be an age gate on it. I think it should be 16.”

What’s the advice that you give to those parents so that they can help their kids as best as possible? 

“So we have had here in Baldwin a number of workshops for parents to offer specific advice. I think interestingly, more than anything, it’s created an environment for parents to realize that they are not in this alone, that everybody is struggling with the same thing. So, very specifically, your kids should not have that phone in their bedrooms at night when they’re going to sleep. A really interesting thing to look at is how often those phones are buzzing when your children are supposed to be doing homework, or going to sleep.

One of the things that we’re talking about doing here in Baldwin is having just a street games day. I’m a kid that grew up in Brooklyn a long time ago. We didn’t make playdates and we did not have social media. We just went in the playground and whoever was there, we played with them. A little bit more outdoors, a little less indoors, a little fewer electronics, a little bit more jump rope, play with a ball, let’s go to the basics kind of thing. What’s interesting is that I think we have all ignored the science around brain development, whether it’s girls or boys.

Boys recover a little bit quicker, I think, you know, but that’s historic. Thinking about whether our kids have not only the social capacity but the emotional capacity to deal with something as sophisticated as a smartphone, that slipped right past us. So, as a school district, we’re working with our parents to get them to understand why it’s important.”

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Instagram: @baldwin_schools 




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