By Ken Striplin
Santa Clarita City Manager
“Distracted from distraction by distraction” – T.S. Eliot
Distraction, by definition, means something that distracts or directs one’s attention away from something else. Parents or guardians with children, especially those in their preteen or teen years, may have some familiarity with this term. Distractions may exist in the form of video games, social gatherings, television or social media. Social media, in particular, is one type of distraction where youth should proceed with caution. The City of Santa Clarita, alongside local partners, plans to better equip parents and guardians in navigating the dangers of social media at this year’s Parent Resource Symposium, titled “Social Media: The New Gateway Drug,” on Wednesday, September 22, at 6:00 p.m. The event will take place at Santa Clarita City Hall, located at 23920 Valencia Boulevard.
As a result of the challenges and restrictions brought forth by the pandemic last year, most of Santa Clarita’s youth were confined to their home. More time at home, coupled with distanced learning and an inability to meet with friends in person, led to more time on the internet. From TikTok to Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more, kids and teens are quickly becoming inundated with new ways to connect with individuals and “fit in.” During the upcoming Parent Resource Symposium, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Captain Justin Diez, will lead a conversation with local experts to provide the necessary resources and tips for keeping our youth on a healthy and safe path. Hearing from these experts, along with real-world experiences from our youth panelists, I hope that parents and guardians are more confident in their approach and monitoring of social media for their children.
What are some of the dangers for youth on social media today? Children and teens often face peer pressure on social media to take part in drugs, alcohol, crime and other activities that may have dangerous consequences. Spending too much time on social media can also lead to an unhealthy perception of oneself in comparison to others – resulting in depression, anxiety and overall poor mental health. None of these physical and mental implications are worth the temporary joy or rush youth experience from getting likes, follows, engagement or other online attention, and a false sense of acceptance.
If monitored effectively by adults, social media can be positive for children and teens. Spending time online can improve their technology skills, offer educational opportunities and provide another way to connect with classmates and friends. The importance of being technologically savvy continues to grow as society advances, but we must do all that we can from allowing it to become a negative distraction for our youth. I encourage every adult, parent and guardian with children and teens in their lives to join this year’s Parent Resource Symposium. Learn more about this year’s Symposium and Resource Fair by visiting DFYinSCV.com/Parent-Engagement.
Ken Striplin is Santa Clarita’s City Manager and can be reached at [email protected].