Don’t Call Me Resilient

Why students harmed by addictive social media need more than cellphone bans and surveillance

Episode Summary

Is a cell phone ban, along with increased surveillance, the right way to deal with the impact of addictive and harmful technology in classrooms?

Episode Notes

Research shows social media apps are designed to entrap children who are even more susceptible than adults to its harms. Plus, technologies are not neutral: They’re embedded with and actively reinforce structures of racism. A recent survey of Canadian children in grades 7 to 11 found nearly half of participants reported seeing racist or sexist content online, and youth from marginalized groups were more likely than others to encounter this type of content. So, what’s to be done? 

Five school boards in Ontario have recently sued the makers of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and  Snapchat for $4.5 billion, arguing the social media giants are causing mental health issues and other harms that are making the jobs of educators much harder. The Ontario Premiere has called the lawsuit a waste of time and money, and announced its government was doubling down on a 2019 ban on cellphones in schools as a way to address the problem. It also pledged $30 million to a surveillance program they think will help solve problems in school like cell phone and vape addictions. 

On today's episode, Vinita gets into it with two education researchers, both former teachers, who challenge the idea of a ban and think there are better ways to address the problem.

Episode Transcription




Vinita Srivastava: Hi everyone. It's Vinita here to tell you about another podcast. I think you might like climate change affects everyone, but it doesn't affect everyone equally immigrants often bear a unique burden, but they're also leading the way with impactful solutions. And there's a new podcast series shining a light on all of it, from flooded basement apartments in New York City, to indigenous Mayan farming practices in Nebraska. Home Interrupted brings you deeply reported original stories from across the United States. The podcast is produced by Feet and Two Worlds, a news outlet that pairs early career immigrant and racialized journalists with young people. With veteran media makers, find feet in two worlds, home interrupted wherever you listen to podcasts.



Kisha McPherson: Even when you think about the cell phone ban, instead of banning it all together, how can we effectively use this tool within the classroom? It could be a research tool, it could be a pedagogical tool to teach and to do different things. With the money that is put towards these surveillance measures and these punitive decisions, it really begs the question of whether or not we really want to solve these problems, whether we're really concerned about students well being, or are we just finding ways to maintain a status quo of control that is normalized because we are so used to it.



Vinita Srivastava: Recently, five school boards in Ontario got together to sue the major social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Their lawsuit says that these social media platforms are designed to be addictive and have caused all kinds of problems for the education system. Their lawsuit says social media causes kids to suffer from mental health issues and it increases distraction. Social withdrawal and cyberbullying. 

It causes damage and disruption to the classroom, which puts all kinds of new burdens on teachers who are already dealing with shrinking budgets and increased class sizes. The 4. 5 billion lawsuit follows over 200 lawsuits by school boards in the United States in the past year against the same companies making similar claims.

This week, the Ontario government, which has called the Canadian lawsuit a waste of time and money, announced it was doubling down on its 2019 ban on cell phones in schools as a way to address the problem. 

Pull quote from Ontario Government's announcement: We ban cell phones in the classroom, so I don't know what the kids are using, but I disagree with them.

Let's focus on the core values of education. Let's focus on math and science. Reading and writing. Uh, that's what we need to do. Put all the resources into the kids. Um, and I don't know what are they spending on lawyer fees to go after these massive companies that have endless cash to, uh, fight this. So let's focus on the kids.

Vinita Srivastava: But is a ban the answer to the impact of technology we know is incredibly pervasive, addictive, and harmful, not to mention often racist? Research shows that technologies are not neutral. They're embedded with and actively reinforce structures of racism. A recent survey of children in grades 7 to 11 found that nearly half of the participants reported seeing racist or sexist content online.

And that youth from marginalized groups were more likely than others to encounter this type of content. Our guests today are two scholars and former teachers who look at the intersection of race, technology, and education. They say social media has become part of who we are.  So instead of trying to ban it, schools should focus on improving digital literacy and critical thinking for both students and their teachers.

Beyhan Farhadi is Assistant Professor of Educational Policy and Equity at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She researches online education and tech policy. 

And Kisha McPherson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Communication at Toronto Metropolitan University. Her research focuses on social justice education, critical race, and cultural studies. Welcome to you both.



Vinita Srivastava: Beyhan, you've been a high school teacher for 15 years. The lawsuit by the school boards accuses these four social media giants of harming students and also making things more challenging for teachers. Can you tell us what things looked like in your classrooms when it comes to children and technology?

Beyhan Farhadi: I'm also a parent to two children who are in the Toronto District School Board, and the last time I was teaching full time was last year in February, so I have very vivid memories. Social media, cell phone use in general, is a part of the work I had to do with students to support their learning. And I say that as a parent.recognition that when a student comes into the class, they're coming as their whole selves, and that includes their interactions with their cell phones. 

Vinita Srivastava: So when you say they bring their whole selves, like they bring their whole selves, meaning the cell phones are like integrated into who they are?

Beyhan Farhadi: Yeah, I sort of have this contradiction.

I'm anti authority, yet I know I comprise an authority. I'm trying to excise and remove the cop in myself as a teacher and not to be surveilling students. So a lot of the work I had to do was around awareness building about their habits and getting them to exercise reflexivity, supporting them, doing a lot of loving intervention where intervention looks like, Hey, I'm here to support you.

Would you like to take a break from your device to focus on your work? You can do that by Putting it here, but it's entirely your decision. My experience of working with students, and I love high school students because they really speak truth to power. They want to support themselves. They want to receive support and care.

I really have never encountered a student who was hostile to receiving care. They, they knew what the intention was. So yes, it's hard. It impacts them. We talk about its impact in my classroom. It definitely was a kind of barrier, but there's all kinds of barriers. 

Vinita Srivastava: But you're saying you never encountered a student who's like back off. I want to keep my phone 

Beyhan Farhadi: Because I don't compel it I'm not coming at them to say, I'm forcing you to give me your phone. That's not the spirit that I'm arriving with. I'm arriving with the spirit of, I want you to experience success as you define it. And sometimes that actually looks like tuning out of class because they're experiencing overwhelm. 

So I'm not reading successes. You need to do this work. It's not that I also had students like who are on their phones the entire time. But, I try to arrive with a sense of building trust and confidence in them and not having them think I'm going to just discipline and punish them. 

Vinita Srivastava: Kisha, you're nodding your head, so I'm just wondering if you have the similar experience in the classroom.

Kisha McPherson: Working within classrooms and doing research on digital technologies that are used in the classroom settings and working with different grade students, I do know that the cell phone use in the classroom is increasing at a level in which it's hard for teachers to be able to control as well as to monitor, as Beyhan says, in terms of the policing of it too, because as you've mentioned earlier, teachers have a lot on their plates in terms of the class sizes and all that they have to do. So the monitoring of the cell phone use and whether or not it's based on some sort of punitive measure or whether they're doing it for students to focus on what they're doing in the classroom, it will feel punitive.

When you take away the student's cell phone, because of the way that they're attached to it, it is part of their lives. Like when we say they're showing up with their full selves, right now in 2024, a full self of a teenager, over 90 percent of teenagers are using cell phones and they're on social media platforms.

And so all of this has to be considered when we're thinking about the actions that we would take to separate them from those devices and to get them off of those platforms. Cause like, these are digital natives. As long as they have a device, they're going to be using it, and they've probably been using it for as long as they can remember.

So it becomes really difficult. 

Vinita Srivastava: Yeah. As a parent, like I do have to monitor my children's use of their cell phones. Like, Hey, you're coming to the dinner table, put the phone down over there. I might say that five times. And my kids themselves will also acknowledge the kind of addictive quality of the apps or of the devices.

Children are not unaware of these things, but just to back up a little bit, this lawsuit that acknowledges that. These apps are harmful and they have harmed school systems. They are placing undue burden on teachers. I think 95 percent of schools in Ontario report needing more resources to support mental health, for example.

Do you agree that this is a problem? 

Kisha McPherson: So I definitely agree that there is a problem, like in reference to the mental health concerns and some of the issues. However, when we think about the shifts in society, along the way, we have different things that change how we function and change the way we do things to change how we operate.

And there was a time when we had the same sort of scare and uproar with TV. Right. And then there was video games. And as we have new technological advances that change the way that we live and operate as a society, it's always going to be present around these types of discourses and arguments in reference to the impact on children and the impact on us in general.

Vinita Srivastava: I see Beyhan nodding too, but this is not just a matter of new technology. It's a type of technology that people have identified as being highly addictive. 

Beyhan Farhadi: There's no doubt that there are functions built into social media that is addictive. It is in the algorithmic design. And part of the statement of claim is that they want these companies to account for that, to, to change.that. 

Everything's a problem, but why are we focusing on this problem is always something that's interesting to me. When I focused on why students are turning to social media, it's more than just addiction. We, we turn to habits, we turn to tools to support us in our coping in different ways. But our premier said, why would you sue these large corporate multinationals when they have endless money?

That's the problem to me. The fact that they're so large and so ubiquitous that it feels like there's nothing we can do as a society. When in fact they are a product of a series of policies and regulations and laws that they're able to work with to expand their market. 

Kisha McPherson: We come across different shifts, different technological advancements, different ways that we do things that create this scare, but we never address Why it is that people, the masses in society are turning to these different options or to these devices or to these coping mechanisms.

And then we don't address capitalism at its core. The reason why these multinationals are so big is because they have a capitalist function within our society, which is deeply ingrained in how we do things. When we think about designing devices or designing these platforms in ways that keeps youth scrolling and engaging in different advertisements and so forth, that is all by design.

But then, that is also the society that we live in. We encourage them to buy, we encourage them to consume, we encourage them to watch. The same governments that are speaking out against it are critiquing what school boards might do. They're not really taking a look at the societies that we have constructed and the practices that we've normalized.

That's only an extension for what we see right now in terms of the social media platforms. 

Vinita Srivastava: So you're saying basically social media platforms are just kind of like arms of this big machine that already exists, that they're not necessarily the problem on their own. 

Kisha McPherson: For sure. When we think about how media itself is created and all of the money and different media companies, the standards that they create, how they get your attention, how they keep your attention and the types of content that they would create.

These are all to support systems of capitalist consumption that has been a part of our society. Since the industrial revolution, let's just say different ways for us to consume different ways for us to purchase different ways for us to buy what I'm saying in 2024 is we've moved away from television.

We moved away from radio. They used to do ads on radio. They used to have different programs for children. Some form of social control was taking place within those programming then television, then video games. So we're just in a different age with a different platform, different form of technology, which is addictive.

And I think. Because we're giving each individual person a device that they can manage. Whereas 25 years ago, we all had to share television sets and it wasn't as individual an action.

Vinita Srivastava: I wanted to go back to something Beyhan said, which is why do young people turn to these devices or why are they turning to these apps?

And Kisha, I wanted to ask you because you've been researching how Black youth in Ontario are using these social media platforms. forms. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you found out in this research? What is the role that social media plays in the lives of these black youth that you've been talking to?

Kisha McPherson: Yeah, so a lot of the data in terms of youth and use of social media or technology comes out of the United States. You know, we don't do a tremendous amount of that research here in Canada, which we need to start doing and it's emerging. But I was really curious as to how Black youth take up some of these social media platforms.

And the amount of time that they're spending on their devices, what type of content they're engaging in and what their experience is. But then I'm also really interested and concerned with the different ways in which the ills of our society sort of represent themselves or are replicated on these social media platforms.

So we talked about technology not being neutral and going into these spaces, black youth do not have a neutral experience because they're always faced with. Forms of racism for some of the girls, they might be far other forms of gender based violence, sexism, ableism, all of the different things that we deal with on a face to face social level within our communities, of course, is still present and very much a part of online experiences.

And so I was really interested in how they take their identities and how those identities then really shape their experiences. within these platforms. And what I found is reflective of some of the research that's been done on youth in terms of social media use. They're using social media at the same rate, at the same level.

We're looking at averages of like about eight to nine hours online per day. 

Vinita Srivastava: Eight to nine hours a day. You're both nodding your heads. Eight to nine hours a day. Young people, you're saying teens are using social media. You're just talking about generally across the board, all youth. 

Kisha McPherson: So Black youth in the GTA are using and accessing media at the same rates as youth.

We're looking at specific types of platforms. TikTok, for example, is probably the most popular at this point. YouTube is also really popular. But then they use social media for different reasons, right? So it's like they're going on there for, for different reasons. What I'm trying to pull apart with this research at Black Youth is how they deal with Their identities within the social constructions that allow racism and sexism and ableism and all of these different things to continue and what their experiences in reference to dealing with those issues in an online platform.

Vinita Srivastava: So, Beyhan, you talked about the agency of young people. folks in your classroom. And Kisha just mentioned the idea of these platforms not being neutral. So a reflection of our society, a reflection of the racist structures in our society. Are the young people that you're talking about aware of these structures of racism that they're encountering? 11 hours a day. 

Beyhan Farhadi: One of the activities I have students do is to track their use. And that is effective. And I also want to say adults are as guilty. 

Vinita Srivastava: Yes, yes. Guilty. 

Beyhan Farhadi: Right? So I think there's a kind of discourse around like ignorant young people doing this when in fact, they're often looking at us as models.

Interestingly, I had shown this documentary and I had so many groans in the class. It was a Netflix documentary around social media use. It was very popular. They all grown cause they've seen it a thousand times. They're like in every class you're showing us how scary and terrible it is. And so in fact, we ended up having a conversation around Andrew Tate because that was showing up on a lot of their feeds.

Vinita Srivastava: Andrew Tate, the far right influencer. 

Beyhan Farhadi: Yeah. But there's a reason why when it's speaking to young people, especially young boys, understanding what it is about him that attracts their attention. The piece around the politics is in having the conversation. And this is true of many other kinds of Andrew Tate's that there is an aspect of it, or like a 2 percent that they really love the fitness advice.

They love the like motivational advice. And so the question becomes in the class of, Well, yes, and he's sexist and racist. What do we do with that? And as a facilitator in the classroom, I actually don't say much. It's not useful for me to speak, but to have folks who are impacted by that content, negatively speak back and then creating spaces for them to share their experiences so they feel heard and that others can hear them because the challenge with these systems are the personal recommendations, right?

 I think it's called collaborative filtering. So if you are a person who is of a particular demographic, you're going to get content that reinforces your biases and all the prejudice that you have. 

Vinita Srivastava: Is that all the for you stuff? Like it's kind of the algorithm that's sending that stuff to you. 

Beyhan Farhadi: Yeah. And so that it's like, where do they get to have these conversations where they're outside the, their algorithmic bubble. And recognizing that what it is that they're encountering is manipulating their agency and that they ought to feel an entitlement to their agency.

And I think when they understand some of the logics behind it and the profit models to Kisha's point around like what these companies are working in a very specific model where you are giving them your value. And having them think about what it means to be educated and what it means to be free and what it means to make your own world.

Those are questions they don't get to ask because these same corporations they're suing are the same corporations. We're going to be applauding them to work in. 

Vinita Srivastava: That's complicated. So you're basically saying these are the corporations that were training children to grow up and work at these companies. And yet we're highly criticizing them as a society. 

Beyhan Farhadi: Yes, we will applaud them. We will give them awards. We will give them. for innovation because they created this new algorithm that will exploit young people's attention, 

Kisha McPherson: which is kind of like The, the entire capitalistic model as workers in the industrial society, we go out to work, we earn money, and then we spend the money at the places that we work, right?

We need to start really thinking about the societies that we've created and the practices that we've normalized, because all we're doing is regurgitating the same systems and the same models. If we're in a society that values and celebrates profit and capitalism over the well being of people, then of course these businesses and these large multinational corporations that create these platforms are going to continue to create algorithms and to create systems and tools and strategies within these platforms in order to replicate profit serving models.

It's important for us to really recognize that a lot of this is coming from what we've created and normalized as a society. And these are not new problems and concerns. They're just reformed, reshaped into new ways and to continue to control and to support the interest of a very small group of people and stakeholders.

Vinita Srivastava: I think what you're saying is teach children to think critically and allow them to have as much agency as possible. And that's one of the ways that you can start to counter this kind of addictive technology. So another question that I have is we're talking about some of the harms. We're talking about the amount of hours children are on these platforms.

I'm wondering also why they're turning to these devices, especially we're talking about racialized kids. Are there some ways that. Racialized kids are turning to these platforms in particular. 

Beyhan Farhadi: With my doctoral work, I spent a bit of time with 24 students, um, and one of the three hours that we spent over their term was entirely on their use of technology.

And it was first to understand how do they use technology? What is it that they do on their phone? And also, how do they use online spaces, online learning? Online classrooms. And we talk about tech in really broad terms, but it's as differentiated and place based and bound as it is in person, um, life. And I think the recognition of like, they're coming into in person learning with these digital spaces with them.

So this kind of digital in person divide is a false one. They are always already in both worlds. Um, I remember speaking with one. Young girl who was attending a school in Scarborough. She's black. She was in a school with largely white teachers and saying, I don't want my teachers teaching me about social justice.

I'm getting that information from online spaces. And the question is why that mistrust is already there and what failings the schooling system already has that creates mistrust for students to have to go and get information about. What is impacting their lives directly outside. And so this idea of what belongs in the classroom and what doesn't belong in the classroom and what students are bringing to the classroom and what is rejected.

When they're bringing it there, those are all questions I think about, so I'm iffy about like how much I want the school to have a role because it's pretending that the school is like this romantic space where all the teachers are amazing and they're going to be able to really hold these conversations when, in fact, the ways that students are using it are a rejection and a reflection of what's possible in schools, and we have to make it possible for them to have the conversations they need to have and that they're turning to social media to have, and sometimes they actually need the privacy away from, you know, authority to have certain kinds of, or access conversations to, which means that we need to think about the kinds of spaces that are online and not just banning and barring them from access when we don't know what it is, or when we do know what it is that they're looking for.

And maybe school as a sort of authority and disciplinary mechanism isn't the space to have those conversations for some young people. 

Vinita Srivastava: I'm going to ask Kisha the same thing. Can social media play a helpful role in the lives of young people? 

Kisha McPherson: Yeah, I definitely think it can, and I agree with Ban's points, how it can be used, finding spaces and information especially for racialized youth that don't necessarily have access to that through this Eurocentric education system that forces them to learn specific types of information, specific histories, and fails to present them with Content and information that really reflects their identities in meaningful ways, and they're hungry for that information.

So anybody who works with racialized youth will know that they are hungry to hear and to learn about some of this information because it's so limited in the context of their education and their formal education, and not just racialized youth. Youth in general, because the information that black children, for example, do not get in the classroom means that white children are in the classroom, not getting that information either.

So there's a deficit in all of the histories that we really need to explore in order to better understand ourselves as people and to better advance equity in a way that is meaningful. Some of the information that I've been able to pull from the studies that I've been working on, especially around black girls, a lot of them use social media as the form of escape.

So even looking at algorithms and how algorithms are trained to give you specific information for some black girls from the research that I've done, that is a dangerous process for their for you page to just be providing them with information. What they tend to do is to train their algorithms. So that their algorithms does not give them the racist, the sexist, the homophobic, and ableist information so that they're not constantly bombarded with those types of messaging.

So for them, using social media platforms means really curating it and being very specific about the type of information that they'll allow in. And when we think about racism, they're experiencing it in real time. They know what it is and they know what it feels like and sound like even more so than I would have at their age.

So they're experiencing it and wanting to still engage in these platforms, but not wanting to be confronted with some of this information. So creating worlds for themselves, following people that are doing exotic things so that they could see themselves in different spaces. They can imagine themselves out of the classroom with the racist teacher, for example, that doesn't give them an opportunity to speak.

They can create other worlds in which these issues do not exist for them. And so that's another benefit, I think, to what social media and other digital platforms can do, along with all of those negative impacts, and how their mental health might be impacted by that. Constantly confronting racism online or reading racist comments.

So they want to find and construct ways in which they can use these platforms in a way that's less harmful for them. So we're dealing with the harm, but then dealing with some of the resistance strategies that Black youth have to then construct. 

Vinita Srivastava: It sounds very ideal. It sounds kind of like a virtual textbook.

It's something that I wish that I would have had when I went to school. I wish there was. Some other place to get information, which there wasn't, we had to go to the library. It's very, very different for kids now. So just this week, you know, as you guys know, the Ontario government doubled down on the cell phone ban that they first implemented in 2019.

They're saying that this one is different. I'm wondering, Beyhan, what your thoughts are on this move by the province? 

Beyhan Farhadi: Coincidentally, it was at the time that the funding papers were dropped and came out at the same time as the discourse around vaping was taking place, which I'm writing about right now. So as part of the funding, the budget.

That was announced 30 million is going towards surveillance technologies. And so the cell phone ban, it's just sounds like the province is replicating what school boards are doing in many ways, but in terms of enacting that policy. Teachers aren't provided with any more tools to do so, um, and the most useful tool for teachers is having smaller class sizes so that they're able to respond to the students in their classroom in ways that are meaningful.

So, it is, in my view, just a kind of rhetorical show that is distracting us from the lack of funding that the provinces are not coming through with. 

Vinita Srivastava: Well, you mentioned 30 million going to surveillance technologies. What is that actually going to do for the schools? In fact, you started this conversation by saying that the thing that you don't want to do with your students is control and police them.

And this 30 million sounds like it's going towards just that idea. We see a problem, which is surveillance. Social media use, we see a problem which is vaping, so we're going to put this surveillance. I heard my kid talking about this yesterday, like, what are they going to do? What is a, what's a vape sensor?

What is that actually going to do? 

Beyhan Farhadi: The technology captures abnormal noise. That is then given to staff to interpret and then respond to. So, what are we pointing as the problem? If social media is the problem, the cell phone becomes a thing that's regulated. If the vaping is the problem, then we're just intensifying policing, which always, always criminalizes and over surveils Black, Brown, Indigenous, racialized. 2SLGBTQ+ folks historically presently, and it's happening in the United States. 

The ACLU last year put out a report called digital dystopia about the ubiquity of these tools being used. And so seeing that. Incursion into Canada where the story we tell ourselves is that we're exceptional, even though we're absolutely not, but that's the story we tell ourselves is very concerning.

And so that was in the budget and there is some coverage about it, but I think there should be a lot of alarms going off in people's heads about it. 

Vinita Srivastava: The alarm that went off in my head right away, as soon as you said sound, because I was remembering that whole debate about that technology that was in certain neighborhoods where they could supposedly hear the shot of a gun.

Beyhan Farhadi: That is this technology. The marketing around the technology is for bullying and guns because of the shootings in the United States in schools. So there is a history of ed tech corporations that use the fear based marketing strategies to take advantage of school districts own fears around. I put in quotes school violence when the violence is the system that is creating conditions for students to not experience success in school.

Vinita Srivastava: So on the one hand, we're saying no, like cell phone bans in schools, no technology, but we're going to add new surveillance technology. 

Kisha McPherson: I think it's the normalizing of it. So we want to get these young people used to being surveilled. We want to get them into a system in which surveillance is normal and that all of these restrictions and policies we're supposed to just automatically conform to whatever it is, is put in place for our safety. And again, in quote, the safety, when we think about these monitoring systems and putting all this money towards this, but then going back to the conversation around the school boards being underfunded and teachers not having the ability to really access it, because even when you think about the cell phone ban.

So instead of banding it all together, how can we effectively use this tool within the classroom? It could be a research tool. It could be a pedagogical tool to teach and to do different things. With the money that is put towards these surveillance measures and these punitive decisions, it really begs the questions of whether or not we really want to solve these problems, whether we're really concerned about students well being.

Or are we just finding ways to maintain a status quo of control that is normalized because we are so used to it. 

Vinita Srivastava: We're almost out of time and I'm going to fast forward now and you guys are both brilliant researchers. So I'm going to put like magic wands in your hand, magic dust, blue sky, just for a few minutes and find out where do you think we should be going?

We know that social media is not going anywhere. As you said, it's part of the whole self of the child. And just because we ban something doesn't mean it's going to make the problem. So with this in mind, Beyhan, how do you think that we can improve education and social media literacy for children? What should we be doing to tackle some of the harms caused by social media?

Beyhan Farhadi: I think also including social media literacy for the adults in the lives of children. Including the teachers in classrooms who aren't on these technologies, who don't necessarily know what's going on. And there isn't a culture in our schools where there is a Curiosity and a good faith attempt to understand that the students in our classrooms are full humans who are deserving of trust and confidence and autonomy, and that they're not property over which we ought to be.

Regulating things without their input and of everything that we've spoken about and everything that I've been consuming with respect to the analysis around the social media lawsuit, young people are, their voice is not included in this. They are not the ones that are sharing the harms or sharing the problems that these school boards are apparently responding to.

It's not coming directly from them. The claim is that. We are as adults going to do what's best on your behalf, and I think that it's always more powerful and more effective when anyone feels like they have a voice in the problem that's being diagnosed. 

Kisha McPherson: And that's such an interesting point because if you ever do work with young people and with youth and you create an environment where like, okay, what are some of some shared, um, contracts?

There are the ones that come up with all of these regulations and all of the things that they think that needs to be included into this basis that they're taking up with each other. They're the ones that are creating all the rules that are much More detailed than you would have even come up with in the first place.

Vinita Srivastava: Yeah, they're living it. I guess they're the ones in it, right? 

Kisha McPherson: Absolutely. And so, so to Beyhan's point though, it's like they need to be involved in that process. But also I agree that more critical media literacy is required, especially for teachers so that they can have some of the information that they need in the classroom to continue to reiterate some of the dangers as well as some of the benefits.

So not necessarily talking about the devices as if. They are the problem that needs to be put away and locked away, but how we can use some of these tools and ensuring that they're finding ways to use some of these tools in their teaching, which can be difficult. I want to acknowledge that, but there must be ways that we can work, um, towards.

Integrating and having healthy use of some of these devices and the platforms, rather than just coming up with a straight out band, rather than coming up with ways that we're policing and surveilling young people, building trust. I also think it's important for us as parents. To think a little bit about what we are doing in terms of what we prioritize in our family life really extend our children's use of these devices, right?

So are we finding opportunities to do things outside of the home to get them outside? Outside is still here. That's one thing that hasn't changed. There's still parks. There's still lakes. We still have access. To those spaces, 

Vinita Srivastava: I mean, of course that comes with a certain privilege too, right? Certain neighborhoods have less parks, certain children have less access.

I'm talking about racialized children in the city. 

Kisha McPherson: Yeah. Even though certain groups of people did not have access to as much green space in terms of an equity issue, there were still other ways that we were working with it, and that goes back to the capitalism issue when we're thinking about families that have to spend extended amount of time working to support their family.

So there's all of these issues. I always side eye the government when they start to come up with all of these different strategies that don't address the issues that we're facing as people on an everyday basis. 

Vinita Srivastava: We need that 30 million to go elsewhere. 

Beyhan Farhadi: Literally anywhere else. 

Vinita Srivastava: There's like a hundred places that schools need money. I thank you both so much for your time. 

Beyhan Farhadi: I really loved being in conversation. Thank you so much. 

Kisha McPherson: Yeah, it was great. 



Vinita Srivastava: That's it for this episode of Don't Call Me Resilient. Personally, as a parent, this conversation was fascinating. And I'd love to talk more about it, especially the issue of surveillance in our schools.

I'd love to hear what you think. You can reach us at DCMR@theconversation. com. And be sure to follow us on Instagram @dontcallmeresilientpodcast. Don't Call Me Resilient is a production of The Conversation Canada. The series is produced and hosted by me, Vinita Srivastava. This episode was produced by our associate producer, Ateqah Khaki, and our student journalist, Catherine Zhu.

Husein Haveliwala is our other student journalist. Krish Dineshkumar does our sound design and mixing. Our consulting producer is Jennifer Moroz. Lisa Varano is the Managing Editor of The Conversation Canada, and Scott White is the CEO. Zaki Ibrahim wrote and performed the music we use on the podcast, the track is Something in the Water. And it's a great track. Go and listen to the whole thing if you have time.