The nation’s love-hate relationship with social media and the internet has taken many turns over the past 15 years or so.
We love various apps and sites when we build relationships with friends and family or find vital medical information. We hate them when they seem overwhelmed by wacky bullies and conspiracy theorists.
Instagram, for example, can take a toll on teen mental health, according to a former Facebook executive turned whistleblower who cited Facebook’s own research. Schools are now on high alert due to “challenges” on the TikTok video sharing app that lead students to vandalize restrooms and more.
In Summit County, authorities are being forced to remind children that stealing or destroying school property as part of the “sneaky lick” challenge is a crime. Copley High School officials told parents they may close some restrooms to make it easier to watch out for any trend-inspired vandalism.
Following:Top Schools Respond to ‘Sneaky Licking’ Challenges on TikTok: What Parents Need to Know
And then there’s cyberbullying – a 2019 federal study found that nearly 16% of high school students were bullied electronically in the 12 months leading up to the survey.
Following:Mother of cyberbullyed teenager sues Snap, other apps after son kills suicide
Finally, let’s not forget the misinformation. Lies online about the 2020 election and COVID-19 killed – note the loss of life on the United States Capitol on January 6 and the continued spread of the deadly virus.
Social media sites are sometimes like the Old West, a dangerous place.
So it’s a good thing that local students can relax with a good book in the school library.
Oh wait, that’s not sure either. At least not according to some parents and “concerned citizens”.
Having no way to tackle the real monster in children’s lives – social media – they bark at school boards about books.
It doesn’t matter that “sneaky lick” videos get hundreds of millions of views. Spirits are rising about the printed word, something people tell us all the time is a dying form.
In Hudson, three books were criticized and, in response, they were taken from high school library shelves.
While we would normally oppose the removal of books, the action taken at Hudson seems reasonable at this time. The district examines how books are added to the library collection.
Librarians congratulate “Lawn Boy”
The award-winning “Lawn Boy” was among the books criticized at the Hudson School Board meeting on September 27.
The Young Adult Library Services Association, in awarding “Lawn Boy” an Alex Award, said the main character’s struggle “is familiar and heartbreaking, and it is impossible not to cheer him on as he pursues the elusive American dream”.
We’re not sure the average teenager has heard of Jonathan Evison’s acclaimed book.
Hudson’s wife complaining about “Lawn Boy” said she was moved to ask her son to look for him in the school library after hearing reports of parents elsewhere objecting to it. At the school board meeting, she read aloud passages about sexual touching between two men and a crude joke about gay men.
We wonder about the context of the 320-page book, and we also wonder if many young students will be rummaging through the book in the hopes of finding obscene content.
Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and Inio Asano’s “A Girl on the Shore” graphic novels are more clearly out of step with old-fashioned community values. They were also removed from the shelves of Hudson’s schools. .
Following:10 new LGBTQ books to celebrate Pride month: Tan France, ‘Gentleman Jack’, ‘Gender Queer’
Anyone interested in pornography can easily find it on the Internet, not one or two drawings or a few paragraphs, but billions of images.
We agree with the idea that libraries should take risks and introduce new books to help children become permanent readers.
The presence of these three books does not mean that Hudson is giving up on his children. Everyone, we’re sure, survived walking past the shelves that held these books.
The bigger problem that many kids will face is social media – and here there are no easy fixes.
Even parents who are trying to limit their children’s time on electronic devices or monitor what they see cannot be 100% effective. Other students can still pass their phones around to share shady music videos.
The usual advice is to urge Congress and federal regulators to put pressure on giant tech companies. With the testimony of Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, the urgency is renewed.
Will our local lawmakers declare their support for meaningful change and engage the community to support them? We need more debate on the real issues, rather than more outrage over masks, vaccines and books.
Now here is a challenge worth taking on.