National Expert On Girls And Social Media Speaks At GPS

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Katey McPherson fields questions from concerned parents
Katey McPherson fields questions from concerned parents

For the most recent installment of Understanding Girls, GPS welcomed Katey McPherson, executive director of the Gurian Institute, to share her expertise on the Effects of Social Media on Girls. Her talks, part of a two-day visit to GPS, informed parents about how a girl’s developing brain can be impacted by the images and influences she’s exposed to on social media. Ms. McPherson also talked with Upper and Middle School students as well as faculty from GPS and visiting schools. 

“As adults we’re sometimes surprised by what seem like irrational actions that our kids make on their devices,” Ms. McPherson says. “However, their brains aren’t fully developed as teens and tweens.” As students explore different roles and personas—typical for this developmental stage—they’re likely to test those “selves” out online. The pressure to keep up with their social group, however, can be great—especially for girls, she said. 

Ms. McPherson said Today’s Girl World looks like this:
Never alone and never lonely
Don’t stand out in the “wrong” way
Loyalty = agreement even when you don’t
Never look clingy or desperate ... a selfie is chosen after 20-27 options
Never admit when you’re mad
Be effortlessly perfect in everything

Mr. McPherson encourages parents to have what she deems “courageous conversations” early on—preferably even before a child gets a phone—to discuss expectations and set boundaries for using devices. Ms. McPherson also promotes the use of a family technology contract that specifically outlines parental control over passwords and app downloads, what can be shared, and when privileges may be revoked. 

“It’s a constant, exhausting dance for parents of when phones should be taken away and when they can give them back—and kids never get tired,” Ms. McPherson says. Good communication and established expectations can set the groundwork for mutual respect and responsible digital citizenship. 

To watch Ms. McPherson's presentation to parents at GPS in its entirety, click here. New York Times best-selling author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood, Lisa Damour, PhD, comes to GPS for a free parenting education evening on March 15, 7 to 8:30 p.m., in Frierson Theatre. 

More takeaways from Ms. McPherson’s presentation:
If your daughter is using an app, so should you.
You should have login information on her devices and her apps.
Safety always comes first.
Set boundaries and guidelines for your family’s tech use—and follow those rules together after signing a contract.
Set up a central charging station in the home where all devices live at nighttime. No electronics should be in the bedroom.
Teens need their sleep and screen-time at night triggers cortisol, which negates any studying they’ve done because it interferes with short-term memory.
You are really trying to achieve one goal with your child: Dignity. Encourage her to treat others that way and to post only photos and comments that keep her dignity intact.
When you intervene on your child’s behalf, her confidence goes down, not up. Guide her but don’t control her to instill coping skills and resiliency.
Teach your daughter to put the friend ahead of the friendship.
Be willing to have courageous conversations with other parents without judgment.
Image-based platforms such as Instagram promote comparing self with others, causing anxiety and depression.
Be aware of Finsta (Fake + Instagram), where kids have additional profiles on their Instagram accounts that only select people can view. These profiles typically contain more nudity and underage drinking.
Kids will post images to make themselves look cool and often mimic behaviors they don’t necessarily do such as drinking and drug use.
Kids are communicating through social media platforms (such as SnapChat) more than texting.
Kids are not addicted to devices; they’re addicted to the dopamine highs they get when using them.
If girls want to vent, let them vent.
Don’t dismiss their pain by labeling it as “drama.”
It’s unfair to call girls mean, even though they can be mean at times.
Teens have one goal: to stay relevant.
We give teens technology without teaching them how to use it at a time when their brains are only half-developed—and then wonder why they make bad choices.
Your child’s social media connections might not be who they seem to be. A profile picture might seem innocuous but could be deceptive. Require their accounts are private and that they truly know who is following them.
Teens have a drive to feel connected; let that connection be you.
Empathy drives connection; sympathy drives disconnection.
Don’t be shocked if your teen says or posts things that don’t align with your values and faith; most will say and do things to fit in.
Teens are inundated with messages of sex, drugs, and alcohol use in all forms of media. Their underdeveloped brains will make bad choices.
Encourage your student to use social media to create a platform that exhibits her best self. College recruiters will review online presence of incoming students to determine who will best represent their campus.


GPS students attend a session with Ms. McPherson
GPS students attend a session with Ms. McPherson


Brian Peterson Receives Excellence In Scholarship Award At Lee

Dr. Brian Peterson, associate professor of Old Testament, has been named the recipient of Lee University’s 2018 Excellence in Scholarship Award. The winner of this award is chosen each year by the Faculty Scholarship and Research Committee. Lee President Dr. Paul Conn officially recognized Peterson for this award during spring commencement. Dr. Peterson joined the Lee ... (click for more)

Sewell Finds Her Home At Alma Mater CSCC

Growing up, Cleveland State Service-Learning Program Assistant Brooklyn Sewell never thought college was for her. Fast forward a few years and not only has she completed her associate degree, but she will graduate with her bachelor’s in December and is already making plans to complete her master’s degree, and even considering a doctorate. Ms. Sewell originally decided to pursue ... (click for more)

Pedestrian Struck And Killed On Hixson Pike Saturday Night

A pedestrian was struck and killed on Saturday night on Hixson Pike. Chattanooga Police Department responded at 10:05 p.m. to a pedestrian struck at 5400 Hixson Pike.   A Ford F150 driven by Francis Lamonica, 66, was traveling north in the fast lane. The pedestrian was attempting to cross the roadway and was struck by the vehicle.   Mr. Lamonica was ... (click for more)

Aaron Biddle, 21, Shot And Killed On Basswood Drive Saturday Afternoon; Jadarius Knox, 23, Arrested For Criminal Homicide

Aaron Biddle, 21, was shot and killed on Saturday afternoon. Jadarius Knox, 23, has been arrested, and charged with criminal homicide. The Chattanooga Police Department responded around 3:45 p.m. to the 7800 block of Basswood Drive on reports of a person who had been shot.  Upon arrival, police were able to locate the victim who had succumbed to his injuries. Knox ... (click for more)

Erlanger Is Earning Its Money

First of all, I don’t know what I’m talking about. However, I do have an opinion on the facility based on my past and recent visits thereto. Secondly, if you find yourself at Erlanger for anything other than welcoming a brand new baby or something else that’s happily miraculous, you’ve either done something stupid (me); somebody else did and you’re paying the price, or, God gave ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: School Board Suckered

Just eight short days ago, Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd called a study on Hamilton’s County’s pseudo ‘socioeconomic desegregation’ farce as “the most far left, liberal document I have ever read. It does not represent the values of Hamilton County and I am insulted and disrespected by it." Then the School Board got so embarrassingly suckered  on Thursday  night ... (click for more)