Head of School's Message: October 12

Last week former Facebook Employee Frances Haugen testified before a Senate subcommittee on Capitol Hill.
She said, "Facebook harms children, sows division and undermines democracy in pursuit of breakneck growth and astronomical profits." That's a lot to unpack. I asked Chandler's tech experts to comment on the 'harming children' part of the controversy.
Chandler's Tech Integration Specialist Jake Steedman wrote, "What Facebook and Instagram are under fire for is not taking actions to stop the display of harmful content that is ultimately psychologically, emotionally and mentally harmful to their users--especially adolescents. They know that divisive and harmful content gets more viewing time, and rather than adjust their algorithms to curb that, they've kept it intact." 
Jake offered constructive suggestions for Chandler's evolving digital citizenship program, "Where I think we can be mindful and intentional is to take a few minutes each week to teach digital citizenship, especially around awareness of what social media is trying to do to its users. In the same way there was education around the impact that addictive tobacco use can have on our bodies, students should begin to understand the way social media platforms are designed to be addictive and even designed to be harmful." 
Chandler's Director of Technology and Operations Trevor Spicer wrote, "Most people know that when you use Facebook, the product is YOU (likewise if parents let students use it, the product is THEM). With Google, the data collection likely goes far deeper and is much broader. I don't believe in slippery slopes, but jumping on a "Facebook is bad" / "big tech can't be trusted" bandwagon might create mountains where molehills don't yet exist. Social media is not for younger students, and it should always be approached with caution, open eyes and adult supervision."
Teaching Middle School students to use social media responsibly has little to do with technology. Personal responsibility depends on building a strong ethical foundation in each child from an early age. Children need an intrinsic understanding of right and wrong, an ethical sense and a moral compass to steer clear of trouble, social media being just one source. They need to learn what's bad for them, and we need to help them make good decisions. Those are reasons why you send your children to Chandler, right?
Soon you will receive a survey asking about Thanksgiving travel plans so we have as firm an understanding as possible about how many students will be quarantining and distance learning after Thanksgiving. Vaccinated students can travel without quarantining. Please understand that the purpose of the distance learning program is simply to provide academic maintenance and not to replicate the in-person experience. 
Most sincerely,
John Finch, Head of School