On October 22, Green Vale hosted author Katie Duffy Schumacher, an expert on social media and trends impacting children and teens, to speak to students and parents about "Kind and Careful Online Communication". 

During her visit, she met with students in 3rd-5th Grades and 6th-8th Grades, each for an hour. She engaged students in candid dialogue about what they like about technology and the capabilities of their devices, as well as the dangers and downside for both users and recipients. In the online world, intentionality around kindness is possibly even more important than "in real life" because of the prevalence of misunderstandings and unintended consequences. Practical tips included:

  • Nothing on social media is ever private;
  • Never remove someone from a group chat;
  • Don't play online games with anyone you do not know;
  • Before posting, always ask: "Would I say this in person?"
  • Only share photos with the people in the photo so no one feels excluded from something they were not part of;
  • If you use Snapchat, Snapmap should be in "ghost" mode at all times;
  • Keep your device locked and password protected;
  • If you ever receive a photo of someone not fully clothed, delete immediately.

The most important lesson of all may have been the following advice: Be in the moment. Enjoy the moment with your senses rather than trying to document with your phone. Take a photo or two, and then put your phone away!

Later that evening, parents gathered in Harris Theater for a presentation of their own on "Cyber Civics" (complete video below). They were reminded about the importance of setting boundaries for device usage. "When there are no rules, kids feel unsafe." Schumacher reviewed the pace at which technology has come to dominate children's lives, along with the disturbing statistics that have attended the phenomenon, including rises in youth depression, anxiety, and even suicide. She did assure parents that the negative risks can be reduced as long as tech use is both age appropriate and not all-consuming. "We can't let devices get in the way of social and emotional development." With this reference to social emotional learning, Schumacher was completely in synch with Green Vale leadership.