We need to be awakened to the fact that today’s high school is nothing like it used to be.
“Undercover High,” a documentary series filmed at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kansas, fairly shouts that high school today is not the high school we used to know. Business Insider interviewed 7 young adults who posed as students there. They had all graduated as recently as 5 years ago, but their ‘return’ to high school was radically different from their own experience.
7 things we don’t realize about high school today:
1. Increased Pressure To Share Explicit Images
Smartphones reveal a particularly devastating effect on girls. While at Highland Park, Nicolette, above in pink, found the female students routinely faced sexual harassment and were under daily pressure to share sexually explicit images of themselves online. She says, “It’s something that’s normal for them, posting promiscuous pictures of themselves and rating themselves based on what others think on social media. It’s not just about your skills, it’s about your sexual image.”
2. Kids Are Experiencing Depression In Record Numbers
Student’s self-worth is highly attached to social media. Social media seems to quantify a student’s popularity and define where they fall within the social popularity contest. For student athletes, it’s more than the depression caused by social media’s manipulation; it’s also the added pressure to carry themselves flawlessly for their followers, regardless of how brutal that audience may be.
3. Cell Phone Use is Rampant – and Dangerous!
The undercover students were shocked to observe that in many classrooms, most students were on their phones for most of the time. “You’re not supposed to have your phone out, but honestly, we don’t care,” one student said.
Beryl New, principal of Highland Park High School where the show was filmed, said that even though multiple social media sites were blocked on the school’s network, they couldn’t stop students from surreptitiously finding access on their own devices.
4. Teachers Have Less Control Over Their Classroom Than Ever Before
Shane Feldman, grad of 2012, told Business Insider, “The kinds of challenges that I experienced back in high school with my peers are now 24/7 issues because of technology, computers, cellphones, and social media. There’s no real escape.” Teachers said it’s a daily struggle to get students to focus on classwork. (source)
5. Pregnancy Is Not Taboo; More and More High Schools Have Daycares
Nicolette, a 22-year-old who went undercover, got pregnant during her junior high school year. She said that at that time she was “ostracized with no support.”
According to Business Insider, her experience at Highland Park, was different. The school had a daycare and a program for teenagers who were going through pregnancy or had children – so they could finish their education. With the changing attitudes toward teen pregnancy, Nicolette created a group to support female students who were pregnant or supporting children.
6. Bullying Is 24/7: At School And Continuing On Social Media (Cyberbullying)
Business Insider: “The 24/7 nature of bullying, the way that it transfers onto the online word, has an impact on everything.” Principal Beryl New stated, “By the time it gets to the next day, someone wants to fight, someone’s not going to school, someone is threatening suicide. It takes something singular – granular even – and it’s just balloons overnight until it becomes a major issue.”
7. Young People Just Want Someone To Truly Care and Talk To Them
“What I saw going back to high school, more than anything, was an alarming disconnect between teenagers and adults today,” Feldman told Business Insider. “Most adults don’t have any clue what teenagers are going through today.”
During the semester, the seven tried to get to the root of those students’ struggles through meaningful conversation.
Feldman continued: “They are all craving for adults to understand them and see them for who they are and the struggles they are facing. I don’t think teachers and parents, respectfully, understand what they are facing.”
So How Can We Help? …Start Young
1. We need to be aware of the damage cell phones are having and change that direction for future generatons.
Science has now shown us that smartphones, iPads, and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex – which controls executive functioning, including impulse control – in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels — the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic – as much as sex.
But, we can rewire and retrain the brain by being intentional. It’s so much easier to start young!Jackie’s Note: here is a printable list of 30 ways to help your kids!
3. Train in delayed gratification.
- Make them wait!!! It is ok to have “I am bored“ time – this is the first step to creativity
- Gradually increase the waiting time between “I want” and “I get”
4. Don’t be afraid to set the limits. Kids need limits to grow happy and healthy!!
- Make a schedule for meal times, sleep times, technology time
- Think of what is GOOD for them – not what they WANT/DON’T WANT. They are going to thank you for that later on in life.
- Limit constant snacking. Parenting is a hard job.
“Kids will change when parents change their perspective on parenting. Help your children succeed in life by training and strengthening their brain sooner rather than later!” ~Victoria Prooday
Remember, parenting is about progress, NOT about perfection! You are reading about this because you are a parent who wants to do all you can to help and advance your child in the right direction. Its the most important job in the world!
You can do it!!
“You shall teach them [God’s words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” ~Deuteronomy 6: 7
Thanks for reading!