The Social Network

Tenley Rooney
LINC Day focuses on the positives and negatives of social media

The Stovell Indoor Tennis Courts were teeming with teenagers as they stacked wooden blocks in a game of Jenga. Others sipped on hot chocolate and chatted. Another group played a game of catch. The classic rock stylings of The Fletchtones, SPS’s resident faculty band, rose above the din, as eager kids indulged in a make-your-own-cupcake bar.
 
It’s not the usual routine for 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, but the impromptu party served an educational purpose. To take part, students needed to forfeit their mobile phones at the door and go technology-free for the social hour. It was the culminating exercise in a student-driven day centered on social media use during the Fall Term Living in Community (LINC) Day.
 
“The ‘Social Fest, No Media,’ with your phone as your entry ticket, was a fun way to actively show people how you don't need your phone to have fun with your friends,” explains LINC Day presenter Jane Pratt ’21. “We wanted a more interactive way to demonstrate that than just presenting it.”
 
For digital natives, a tech-free situation is rare. Research conducted by LINC leaders showed that 41 percent of the School community is on their phone two to three hours a day, with 31.1 percent for more than three hours a day, and 49.7 percent are on a device three to five hours a day. The results are indicative of a broader trend. In a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 45 percent of teens reached said they are online “almost constantly,” with 95 percent responding that they have access to a smartphone. Moreover, teens say they are on their phones mostly to pass the time, they are also sitting behind technology as a way to “avoid face-to-face interactions.”  
 
“Social media can be fun, but it’s important to use responsibly,” says Gabriel Klinger ’21. “It can make lives so much easier, but also so much harder.”
 
The daylong study of digital citizenship also included screening the show Black Mirror. The episode titled “Nosedive” presented a hypothetical scenario about the power and effect social media has in daily life. The positives of social media and technology lend itself to collaboration and convenience, but those very benefits can shift quickly into negative scenarios such as plagiarism or distraction.
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