THE ISSUE: It’s Monday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County and the surrounding region. Some of these items are welcome developments on the economic front or for area neighborhoods. Others are local stories of achievement, perseverance, compassion and creativity that represent welcome points of light during another winter of this long, stressful pandemic. All of this uplifting news deserves a brighter spotlight.
Students from Solanco High School wrote letters to LNP | LancasterOnline last month about the effects of smartphones and other technology on their lives and families. Some of those letters have been published on these Opinion pages in recent weeks.
We see all of the letters as good things because, even when the writers are pointing out the drawbacks and ill effects of technology, they are bringing an important discussion — one that affects nearly everyone in Lancaster County — into the public forum for debate.
We can’t solve our problems unless we work together and talk about them in the open. That makes the letters from Solanco students incredibly valuable in sparking needed conversations.
The letters are also good things because we love seeing local youth represented on the Opinion pages. There is already the Generation Z(eal) page, which runs on the back page of the Sunday Perspective section throughout the school year.
Generation Z(eal) is a place for local high school and college students to share opinion columns about the issues that concern them. Just in the past few weeks, those topics have included the safety of LGBTQ students at school, the value of museums, mental health, making the passage into adulthood amid a pandemic and — in a fun one — whether skiing or snowboarding is the more joyful sport.
But Generation Z(eal) isn’t the only place for young people to chime in. We were thrilled to see those letters from Solanco, and anyone, of any age, is invited to submit a letter to LNP | LancasterOnline. The guidelines are straightforward: Letters are limited to 250 words and should generally be on topics that affect some segment of the public.
Letters must include an address and telephone number for verification purposes. Writers are limited to one published letter every 30 days.
Letters will be edited for accuracy, grammar, clarity and length. Material that has appeared elsewhere and form letters are discouraged, and any detected will not be published.
Letters can be submitted one of three ways:
Email: [email protected]
Mail: Letters, c/o LNP | LancasterOnline, P.O. Box 1328, Lancaster, PA 17608-1328.
If you’re a student and have something to say, we want to hear from you. Maybe it’s to share a good thing from your school or neighborhood. Or you want to to discuss current events — or anything you believe deserves a wider audience
Returning to the pros and cons of technology that dominates most of our daily lives, it’s a topic we’ve raised ourselves in a few editorials over the years.
In 2019, we wrote, “Our smartphones have taken over our lives. Too often we are viewing important moments through the camera lenses on our phones, eager to capture them so we can post them. Instead of simply living them.”
Yet we aren’t experiencing smartphones, social media, apps and the unfolding of this chapter of history as members of Generation Z are. They have things to teach us. That’s why we were glad to receive and read the recent letters from Solanco.
Here are some of the insights they provided:
— “Spending a lot of time with technology can take away from important things like work or chores. One way we can balance this is by setting timers for each app. In your phone, you can go into settings and put a limit on how many hours or minutes you want to spend on each app. This can free up some extra time for chores or family or even just relaxing away from technology” — Morgan Davis, Grade 9.
— “Some adults are also on their phones as much as we are. I think that both adults and teenagers need to find a balance with technology, by spending time together or going out as a family. Too much technology can make us socially awkward, reduce our physical activity and increase the risk of depression” — Aubrey Bickford, Grade 9.
— “Adults and teenagers also need to be careful about not spreading false rumors online, whether it’s about celebrities or misinformation about the sky falling. We must all be cautious about the things we share on social media and the rumors that are spread by word of mouth” — Kara Walter, Grade 9.
— “When you sit down and your head is looking down at the phone for a long period of time, it can cause pain in your back muscles, shoulders and neck. There can also be increased headaches from the phone’s light being too bright and straining your eyes” — Hailey Trimble, Grade 9.
— “With children being able to understand technology now, it will have a huge impact on what careers we will fall into when we are older. No one can stop the advancement of technology, so we need to understand and adapt to it as it evolves” — Cassidy Brown, Grade 9.
— “I find Snapchat to be the most ridiculous app of them all. It affects relationships and friendships. Some teenagers are so obsessed with being in a relationship that they will follow a bunch of random guys, be on Snapchat with them for weeks and then choose the one they like the most” — Hailey Stowe, Grade 9.
— “Those who are richer likely have access to better and more reliable technology. … As time passes, those without access to technology may miss out on those advancements and important events” — Steven Booth, Grade 10.
The local conversation about technology is now richer, thanks to these thoughtful comments from members of Generation Z.
It’s a good thing that they all wrote and shared their opinions. We can’t wait to hear more.
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