James Clemens students foster social connections in age of social media
MADISON – Students at James Clemens High School are tackling obstacles to personal social connections in the age of social media with the help of the Department of Homeland Security’s Invent to Prevent program.
Invent to Prevent is a program supported by the DHS, EdVenture Partners, McCain Institute, and Credence Management Solutions, LLC to encourage high school and college students to develop innovative solutions and preventative measures to targeted violence. The James Clemens High School chapter of Invent to Prevent has recently taken up this call by creating a program that will foster better social connections among children in fourth through sixth grade.
The program is a solution to the effect social media has had on face-to-face interactions in youth.
Leader and founder of the James Clemens Invent to Prevent chapter, Oviya Gowder explained, “We have taken the topic related to social media’s impact and how the face-to-face/peer connection is missing in this current generation due to social media. Our target audience is specifically 4th – 6th grade because that’s where we see most kids getting phones and using it daily.”
The team was inspired to take on this topic by their research findings and own firsthand observations of the exposure of children to social media at younger ages than ever before.
“We all personally have and utilize social media in our daily lives,” Gowder said. “Because of this, we realized, through our research, that social media was being exposed to an even younger age group than we originally were. In addition, each member of our Invent 2 Prevent team volunteers at various clubs and organizations that involve interacting with children, specifically around our target audience (4th-6th grade) and we noticed they get access to devices and social media access at a very early age. Thus, we decided to focus on the impacts of early exposure to social media on school-age children and how this could enhance certain risk factors towards targeted violence.”
Gowder and the James Clemens Invent to Prevent team surveyed parents and students across the city and hosted three activities at different locations to encourage face-to-face social interactions. With the help of the James Clemens faculty, Gowder also founded an English tutoring program for those struggling with a language barrier through the school’s new Global Minds chapter, a non-profit, nationwide organization based out of Pennsylvania.
“This is the first Global Minds chapter in Alabama,” Gowder said. “The chapter’s main purpose is to foster intercultural relationships. As part of this chapter, I partnered with the EL department at my school and started a tutoring service for those who are struggling in their classes because of language barriers. It also helps them get introduced to the language through conversational English. The unique structure of the tutoring service allows one tutor and EL student to form a partnership throughout the year.”
The James Clemens Invent to Prevent team’s project will be subject to review in the coming month and if selected in the top three out of forty total high schools, will have the chance to be officially recognized for their achievement and present their idea before national leaders in Washington, D.C.
You can follow the Invent to Prevent team’s work as they strive to make a difference and improve social connections in Madison youth on Instagram @jchs.i2p.