“LIKE” documentary tackles impact of social media

— Created March 4, 2020 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed Whidbey Weekly

Are we addicted to social media?

South Whidbey School District and the Clyde Theater in Langley are teaming up for a presentation of a film which focuses on that very question. The new documentary, “LIKE,” will be shown Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Clyde, with a discussion to follow Sunday’s screening. There is no charge to attend and everyone is welcome.

The purpose is simple – to start a conversation.

“We are always looking for ways to help students understand the power of social media and the impact it has on them and those around them,” said Josephine Moccia, SWSD superintendent. “We hope to continue to raise awareness of the impact of social media on our children as well as ourselves.”

“LIKE” is an IndieFlix original production that examines the dichotomy of technology: While it makes our lives easier, how serious are the consequences of our dependence and reliance upon it? More importantly, how does social media, a product of technology, affect us, particularly children?

Statistics from thelikemovie.com/resources-common-questions/ are fairly eye-opening. According to the website, in six years, from 2012 to 2018, the number of teens with a smart phone went from 41 percent to 89 percent. The number of teenagers who use social media several times a day went from 34 percent to 70 percent. Texting is the favorite form of communication – it’s even more popular than in-person communication.

Moccia said while cell phone use isn’t distracting in the classroom for younger children, it can become an issue for educators who teach older children.

“The use of technology in the classroom is up to the teacher,” she explained. “Cell phones are not an issue at the K-4 level. They become a bit more available as students get older. Some teachers ask students to “park” them at the beginning of class.

“Research indicates that cell phones are a distraction for all of us,” Moccia continued. “If we are focused on the technology we are not focused elsewhere. And information, whether accurate or not, moves very quickly.”

It’s important parents are aware of their own social media use, as well as their children’s. A discussion after Sunday’s screening with Lisa Honold, director of the Center for Online Safety, will hopefully spark a conversation of about healthy technology use.

“Technology is a tool that needs to be managed,” said Honold. “It can bring us together, educate us, entertain us and surprise us with the goodness in our world. Or, it can be used to bully, addict, compare ourselves to others and deliver inappropriate content. I hope that parents leave the documentary with a few concrete ideas on how to help their children set up healthy limits and boundaries with technology. I hope that students leave the film understanding that apps are designed to grab and hold our attention. It’s important to push back and set up a healthy mix of online and offline time yourself.”

In the end, the responsibility falls to parents to ensure they and their children are using social media responsibly.

“Stay informed about what is impacting our children,” said Moccia. “Parents are in charge of their children. They are hopefully aware of the behavior of their children. There are ways to monitor the use of technology.”

“It is vital for parents to teach their teens how to use social media respectfully,” Honold said. “This is the first generation to have social media apps like TikTok, Instagram and Snap-Chat and kids need guidance on what’s appropriate. They need to know that what they do online can stay out there forever and one bad choice can impact the rest of their life.”

With so much socializing among tweens and teens happening online, Honold said her focus at the Center for Online Safety is teaching families how to use technology safely and help them learn how to react to situations that could lead to danger, such as private messages from strangers, or what to do if a friend sends them an inappropriate photo, or perhaps if a friend shares on social media they want to hurt themselves.

“These are real situations that should have parental involvement, but teens are struggling with them on their own,” she said. “I teach parents how to lead with love and limits, how to have a healthy balance with screen time and how to “see” what their kids are doing online. I teach digital citizenship to children and teens so they understand how to use technology safely and respectfully.”

Free showings of “LIKE” will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Clyde Theater in Langley, with a discussion to follow Sunday’s screening.

“As we learn in the film ‘LIKE,’ people are checking their phones about 150 times a day,” said Honold. “Isn’t that shocking? It’s time to be more intentional with our time and notice when technology is creeping into every minute of the day. ‘LIKE’ is a great conversation starter for families interested in healthy technology use.”

More information on the film can be found online at thelikemovie.com. Information on the Center for Online Safety is available at centerforonlinesafety.com.