Concerns Grow Over Impact of Social Media on Young Children and Behavior in South Brunswick Schools

At a recent South Brunswick School Board meeting, a wide range of topics were on the docket, from student accomplishments and program updates, to serious discussions regarding the influence of social media on young children and the impact of state legislation on school safety measures. Perhaps the most concern was the increase in concerning behavior among elementary school students, particularly related to the impact of social media and electronic devices.

The meeting commenced with a discussion led by board members, expressing concern about the influence of social media on young children and the effect it could have on their behavior and language. The topic emerged as a result of an increase in concerning behavior observed in elementary school students and was acknowledged as a complex issue demanding urgent attention. Board members voiced their concerns about the growing access to electronic devices and social media platforms at an increasingly young age, and the challenges this presents for parents in monitoring their children’s exposure to inappropriate content.

One board member in particular emphasized the role of parents in this issue, suggesting the need for more proactive measures such as a parent academy or educational videos. The discussion extended to whether private schools in the state were encountering similar issues and whether a demographic contrast study could provide valuable insights. The board agreed that the impact of electronic devices on children was a concern, one that needs to be addressed collaboratively with parents and the wider community.

This topic was followed by a report on school safety and the Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) self-assessment for the reporting period of January through June 2023. The district’s anti-bullying coordinators, Jamie Bulmer and Blair Eisman, provided details on the number and nature of investigations. Notably, a new state form for reporting HIB allegations had led to an increase in the number of investigations, although most were not confirmed as HIB. The district scored highly on Hib policies, practices, and procedures with a score of 76 out of 78.

Superintendent Scott Feder discussed the school safety data, highlighting a substantial decrease in suspensions at the high school level. However, he expressed frustration with the extensive paperwork and time-consuming processes required for even minor incidents, attributing this to the state’s legislation. Feder noted that the increased paperwork was not necessarily reflective of an increase in extreme behaviors, but rather a result of the state’s stringent protocols. The board members echoed his frustration, questioning the effectiveness of these measures and expressing concern about the growing anger and hate in society.

The meeting also highlighted several student achievements, including the high school concert choir and fall athletics. Other recognitions included the accomplishments of the South Brunswick High School marching band, which had won first place in several competitions and performed at the NFL’s inaugural Black Friday game. The presentation of the Sports Athletics Awards recognized students who exemplified sportsmanship in various sports at the high school, including the success of the Unified Tennis program.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Scott Feder
School Board Officials:
Lisa Rodgers, Dr. Smitha Raj, Julie Ferrara, Laura Hernandez, Deepa Karthik, Alisha Khan, Raja Krishna, Mike Mitchell, Barry Nathanson

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