Ingham concerned social media bad for students’ mental health

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Scrolling through social media while doing homework

Annie Kahler

Links between children’s use of social media and their mental health raised concerns with Ingham County Intermediate School District administrators. Superintendent Jason Mellema said at the board’s April 11 meeting that it hopes to figure out how schools can do more to help students.

Mental health specialists at the ISD have served more than 550 referrals this year and still have students on the waiting list. 

“Social media is a serious thing that we must prepare for,” said Mellema. How to approach the topic is the main question. Mellema used the analogy that education is like a stool with three legs: the school, the students and the community. “If the legs do not hold, the stool will collapse.”

With the awareness that what happens outside of school eventually makes its way to the classroom, Mellema is hoping to strategize on how to teach students the importance of social media use. 

“Staff, students, and caregivers need to be on the same page if we are going to make a difference,” said Mellema.

John Wolenberg, an ISD board trustee, agreed with Mellema’s concerns. He said, “It’s what can we do versus what do we think they need.” 

“The question is how do we continue to teach mindful social media usage when so much of this is not occurring during the school day?” Mellema said.

ISD board President Lori Zajac said, “This is a big topic, a sad topic, but there is much to ponder as we go further.”

Mellema is wrestling with what should be done in regard to the students’ mental health, safety and freedom and how to move forward in the best way possible. The ISD board is contemplating its role in how to help students and facilitate their social growth in healthy ways.

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