How can teens manage Facebook, homework and everything else?

A Walnut Creek friend recently told me about her very high-achieving daughter. This girl is a senior at one of our local high schools, and she’s busting her butt to maintain a 4.5 grade-point average and to keep up with the kinds of extracurricular activities (swim team, drama, tutoring kids at risk) that supposedly show prospective colleges that she’s well-rounded.

But here’s the thing. She’s had to sacrifice her social life. She mostly keeps up with friends on Facebook. She skipped her homecoming dance to fill out college applications. According to my friend, this is the way of life for certain high-achieving kids these days.

Other parents might have to kid who is using Facebook to avoid doing homework–or to avoid actually interacting with people in person. You also have kids using social media in very unhealthy and harmful ways–hurting both themselves and other people. Middle and high schools are having to deal with students bullying others via Facebook, texting, and other social media.

With this whole new universe of technology available to kids, what should parents know?

Find out at a panel discussion this Saturday, “Helping teens learn in an era of digital overload.”

This panel discussion, at the Orinda Academy from 10 a.m. to noon, will feature experts on teens and technology, such as Facebook, TV, Twitter, etc.

Panelists will include Beth Samuelson, director of Student Organization Services, which offers academic coaching and customized study strategies and techniques; Jason Brand, specializes in positive adolescent technology relationships; Rona Renner, parent educator and Childhood Matters radio talk show host; Paul Lipson, former Orinda Academy music teacher, technology teacher, and video game designer who is currently president of the Game Audio Network Guild and the COO and Composer at Pyramind, Inc.; and Orinda Academy student, Dylan Kimsey-Hutchinson, a digital music composer, Facebook and video game enthusiast and valedictorian for OA class of 2010 who will be attending Carnegie Mellon University in Fall 2010.

Topics covered will include:

–Can students successfully multi-task with school work and electronics? Find out what the research shows,
–Facebook or homework? Tips and strategies for parents to help teens manage school and media.
–What are the ways to cut through the media clutter and chatter to help teens improve study and learning skills?

Orinda Academy, a private, college prep school, is located at 19 Altarinda Rd., Orinda. The fee is $10 per person. Because seating is limited, you should reserve in advance by going to

13 thoughts on “How can teens manage Facebook, homework and everything else?


    How do we manage? Well, as a student at Miramonte, probably the most competitive and vicious of all these schools, we usually sacrifice our sleeping life. And then we have nervous breakdowns (I have had 2 this year). The funny thing is, when I graduate next year with my 4.6 GPA and I'm set to go to an Ivy League (actually, I don't even know if I'll get into an Ivy League), anyway, I will say to myself, “It wasn't even worth it.”

    The stress is not worth it, and yet I do it anyway. Facebook actually is terrible, it takes away valuable hw time bc it's so addicting. And it's a travesty of being social.

    BTW, sorry to creep on your blog…my family reads it and mentioned I should check it some time.


  2. Hi Soccer Mom,
    I personally don't care for Facebook, yet I can see how it sucks the kids in. Sad. Great topic for a panel discussion.

    I feel for the young who are striving to compete and excel. I'm dealing with interesting computer issues with my own daughter – who is only three! If you can imagine that. Luckily, she loves books and we have hundreds of books.


  3. Anon 5:25,

    Thanks for your insight; I'm sure your opinions are welcome here.

    I'm glad I did not work myself to distraction in high school. I applied to an Ivy League school and several good state schools. In the end I went to a small, inexpensive, but prestigious, private school. I did not really work that hard but graduated with honors. Then after finding out how hard the real world was, I went back to grad school. Suddenly the hard work was FUN. That made all the difference!

    I wish you and your peers all the best. Hang in there and find the future that rewards you. A lot of the people that came before you are pulling for your success.


  4. There is a fantastic documentary out now that was made by a local filmmaker. It is called “Race to Nowhere” and it focuses on the stress noted by Anon 5:25. I know it is going to be shown at the California Independent Film Festival in Orinda. Everyone that has seen it has said that it is frighteningly accurate. My children are still young (First and PreK), but I am already aware of how hard it is not to “overschedule” kids these days. We make a real effort to do that and focus on one activity at a time (currently, Little League), but it would be really easy to look up and realize you have scheduled every minute of your kids' days. I can hardly imagine what that is like at the high school level around here.


  5. Anon 5:25,
    Thanks very much for sharing your insights. I'm sorry for what you're dealing with. My son is only 11, and in 6th grade, and he started to feel pressure, and say he couldn't stand it…
    We haven't even gotten into the Facebook thing yet.
    And Nicole, thanks for reminding us of Race to Nowhere. You can learn more about it by going to

    AND in fact there will be a screening tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. at San Ramon Valley High in Danville.


  6. If your kid is pushing herself that hard, you're dropping the ball as a parent. Your job is to help her learn to keep her life in balance.

    Personally, I've hired Ivy Leaguers. I've known many socially. Some have been nice, but nothing special. Some have been downright creepy.

    Don't give in to the obsessive snobs. The truly gifted people and creative forces in our economy have rarely come from the Ivys. On the other hand, if you look at the leeches on our society who run the banks and have stolen our future with their criminal financial dealings…well, that's not the crowd I want my child to be a part of. A low key, private or state college that will reinforce the ethics and values of our home is what I want for my kid.


  7. Anon 9:33,

    Sure…sure….from your repsonse it is obvious your kid goes to YVHS and probably bombed the SATs. But keep drinking that kool-aid if it helps you sleep at night.


  8. 9:33 here,
    Wow, glad to see that I was wrong about the snobbery part. 🙂

    Anyway, we're in the Acalanes district and I don't know about the SATs yet because my kid has only gotten as far as the PSATs. He did fine though. Thanks for caring.


  9. If they live in a town that banned dancing after the preacher's son was killed in an accident, a lot of times they'll drive their old VW beetle out to an abandoned warehouse and punch dance it out. And if there happen to be some uneven bars, you know, do some gymnastics.


  10. Anon 2 PM

    Yes that 1:14 is a troll, ignore him or her. They don't have children at YVHS and are showing their ignorance.

    I have a son at YVHS and he feels academic pressure too. Life is about choices and what you put into it, we tell him he is responsible for his education and as his parents, we help him set boundaries and yes, we have to pull in the reins when socializing (facebook, I Touch, computer) takes over. He did well on his PSAT's and now for the SAT's. It is hard, but we are trying to help him balance academics, sports, social life, family and his own growth. Today's world is really hard for these kids from all walks of life and schools.

    Keep it up and there will be rewards. My older son is a Senior in a State College and has grown so much in College. I just paid a visit to him and we had a great dinner and it was wonderful to listen to his future plans. Graduation is around the corner and he is facing the concern of finding a job or going to graduate or law school

    I also can find myself turning to blogs or facebook when I really don't want to work, I work from home. So I have to pull in my own reins and re-focus.

    I enjoy your blog Soccer Mom, I grew up in Walnut Creek and lived in Saranap area. Sadly every school I attended in WC was closed 😦


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