Utah junior high science teacher Skipper Coates said she was crushed when she found out about 70 out of 85 of her students admitted to keeping a form of social media secret from their parents.
“I decided to share the information because I believe we are on the brink of a serious mental-health crisis with this generation,” she wrote in an article on LoveWhatMatters.com. “They carry these heavy secrets that come with deep emotions, but aren’t learning the appropriate outlets for that emotion, and they aren’t learning how to get secrets off their chests.”
Coates recently shared her findings about her students’ social media use in a Facebook post as a wake-up call to parents to be aware and talk to their children. On March 8, she posted, “Today I asked three of my classes to finish this sentence: ‘What my parents don’t know about social media is …’
“You guys. The answers were SICKENING. Heartbreaking. Depressing."
Coates included images of some of the most blunt and honest responses from the 85 ninth-graders, ages 14-15, who participated. One student admitted to staying up until 2 a.m. every night on social media. Others talked about secret accounts and how they can hide or delete pictures and messages. Still, others referenced accessing drugs and pornography.
“Parents of the world, WAKE. UP. Your kids are living in a world that you are not invited to be part of. And they know how to keep you out. Your teenager DOES NOT NEED a smart phone,” she wrote.
According to her experience written on LoveWhatMatters.com, Coates said she has two big takeaways from her students’ responses. First, more technology can’t solve the problem. Second, parents need to talk to their kids who are searching for emotional outlets.5 comments on this story
“We need to put down our phones long enough to build face-to-face relationships so our kids don’t need to seek validation from peers and strangers,” she wrote.
Coates later added a comment to the top of her Facebook post about her love for her students and encouraged people to use the online discussion to show them “good digital citizenship.”
“Be kind. Have compassion,” she wrote. “In the coming days, I will be working closely with my school, community, and local therapists to learn more about how we can help.”
In the four days since it was posted, Coates' comments and pictures on Facebook have been shared over 17,000 times.