Paly students speak at “Teens with Screens” social media forum

Ido Gal, Author

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Three Palo Alto High School students are still in contact with parents after speaking at an event called “Teens with Screens” at Jordan Middle School last Thursday night in order to inform parents of middle schoolers about social media practices and behaviors.

Paly students Johnny Rohrbach, Alex Merkle-Raymond and Kelly Shi speak about the impacts of social media on Palo Alto teens. Photo by Ido Gal.

Paly sophomore Johnny Rohrbach and seniors Alex Merkle-Raymond and Kelly Shi speak about the impacts of social media on Palo Alto teens. Photo by Ido Gal.

Paly sophomore Johnny Rohrbach and seniors Alex Merkle-Raymond and Kelly Shi were asked by Jordan parents to inform adults about the various social media outlets that students are beginning to use, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

“You have a bunch of parents who really just don’t know much about social media,” Shi said. “They’re not sure whether their kids are lying to them when they say that they need a Facebook for school purposes.”

Shi says this sort of event is important for both parents and students.

“Parents tend to make incorrect assumptions or punish their kids unfairly because they don’t know this information,” Shi said. “Their lack of knowledge can lead to a huge misunderstanding, when really, it’s not anybody’s fault. We wanted to help parents understand their teens by telling them whats it’s like on the other side of the dinner table to prevent these sorts of misunderstandings.”

Rohrbach also spoke highly about the importance of “Teens with Screens.”

“I think it allowed for an insight into how leniently parents should be with their child’s technology use and what guidelines they should set up,” Rohrbach said.

Both Rorhback and Shi ultimately believed that the event achieved its goal.

“Parents came up to us afterwards and thanked us,” Shi said. “I’m glad to have spared them that friction with their kid. It’s really up to the parents, and we just wanted to bring a teen perspective to the table. Parents got a chance to ask questions at the end, and I think that was really helpful for them.”