Novato Teens Hold Workshop to Educate Parents on Dangers of Oversharing

By Tara Lynda

NOVATO — Colton Humphrey knew there was something wrong the first day of school at Novato High. “There were all these parents taking selfies at drop-off,” according to the sophomore. “Sometimes they’d be doing selfies with their kids, sometimes just by themselves. The traffic was getting backed up pretty bad. The school bus couldn’t get through.” 

“My mom got a blow out at 5:30 that morning so that her hair would be ready for first-day-of-school photos,” says junior McKenna Lassiter, “She does it every year with some of the other moms. But I never her let her take photos with me. I value my privacy.” 

Anyone with a teenager has noticed a growing generational divide. Middle-aged Americans are some of the most active participants on social media; a recent survey from the Center for Responsible Media reported that adults between the ages of 35 and 60 spend on average 375 minutes a day posting to, commenting on, or refreshing their social media feeds. Teens, on the other hand, are more suspicious of social media’s role in society. 

“My dad’s gotten his identity stolen three times,” said one student, who asked only to be identified as C.L. “I’m like, maybe you should take your social security number and address off of your Twitter profile. But he just blew me off and said it helps people know he’s real and not a troll when he retweets celebrity photos.”

A group of Novato High students, who asked not to be identified, are taking action. This weekend, the group will hold a day-long workshop for parents on how to use social media safely and responsibly. “We’ve seen too much pain and trauma from what our parents have said online,” said one group member, “and if this workshop can stop one parent from getting into a Twitter war over a Colin Kaepernick meme, it’ll be worth it.”

Holly Barton’s son signed her up for the workshop. “My son says I’m online too much. I probably post something on Facebook four to seven times an hour. It helps me feel connected to ex-boyfriends I haven’t seen in 30 years.” Robert Chao plans to attend as well, “My daughter begged me to go. She says I post too much about her. She’s still hung up about the time I posted a photo of the new birth control she’s taking. I don’t get it, it’s what cleared up her acne!”

Some students are already taking action independently. Senior Dylan Ramirez has put a set of “parental controls” on the family laptop. “Basically, I wrote some code that makes the computer crash after my dad writes a certain number of characters in all caps.” Ramirez says he spends little time on social media himself. “Too much yelling, too much drama. In my opinion, the internet would just be better if there were no middle-aged people on it.”

Suzanne Carroll