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The Impacts of Social Media: D-E Hosts Max Stossel, CEO of Social Awakening

Through a collaborative coordination between the PA’s Parent Education Committee and Office of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), D-E welcomed Max Stossel, CEO of Social Awakening and educator of technology and social media, to visit with both students and parents. Stossel’s presentations were focused on the impacts of social media. Throughout the day, Stossel explored the various ‘faces’ of social media, from its “addicting” delights to its dangers, and educated the D-E community on how to smartly use social media in an era where its presence and power grows. Stossel spoke in a series of sessions including assembly programs and small group discussions for Middle and Upper School students and lastly, a presentation for D-E parents.

In all his discussions, Stossel covered in-depth the mental and physical effects, including depression and sleep deprivation, of popular social media apps (e.g., Snapchat, Instagram, and Tik Tok) on students’ daily lives in particular. Actively engaging with the audience through videos, sharing timely survey results, and encouraging discussion among students, Stossel unpacked the damaging “slot machine” psychology behind social media and emphasized how social media is not necessary to connect with friends nor as rewarding as it may seem.

To both students and parents, Stossel also discussed various solutions to break free from social media’s hold; a few are to turn off auto-play on platforms like YouTube— where videos justifying incorrect information and extreme conspiracies are often recommended, to rely on in-person interactions with friends, or to manage the amount of time spent on social media. Based on the positive and (to paraphrase D-E’s SEL Chair Lisa Wittner) “healthy” responses from all constituent groups who heard from him, Max Stossel will likely be returning to D-E for more presentations in the future.

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