West Senior Brings LOG OFF Movement to Lakota

West Senior Brings LOG OFF Movement to Lakota
Posted on 01/26/2021
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logo off movement“Put down your phone” is probably something that most teenagers have heard their parents say at one time or another. Would you believe that it’s something that teens are saying to one another?

Sarah AbuDakar, a senior at Lakota West, is one such teen.

While working on a project about happiness for her ninth grade English class, AbuDakar became aware of the impact social media was having on her own life. “I began to realize how social media takes over your life,” she said. By limiting her social media intake, she became aware of how much she was attached to it.

AbuDakar began researching social media algorithms and how they influence what you see when you log onto your accounts. Through her ongoing research, AbuDakar learned about the LOG OFF Movement, a global initiative that was founded in May 2020 by a group of teenagers in Birmingham, Alabama to promote healthy ways to use social media. She was so intrigued that she applied to become a Character Ed Task Force Leader. She also serves as a regional representative. 

“My job is to research and create new ways to step away from the digital world so we can connect on a deeper level,” said AbuDakar. In this role, she is focused on building curriculum for schools to help educate students on the impact of social media on their lives. The group is working on three different models of curriculum: elementary school when most students haven’t started using social media; middle or junior school when social media usage is typically just beginning; and high school when students are using social media daily. Each stage will include information about mental health, cyberbullying and how to recognize if you’re addicted to social media - and what to do if you are. “The curriculum will include building and classroom activities because we want students to interact with what we’re talking about,” she explained.

As the Character ED Task Force continues to build the curriculum, AbuDakar is already thinking ahead about the next steps. “I want to involve the National Education Association and Hope Squad as a way to get schools involved,” she said. She’s already spoken to her principal at Lakota West about piloting the curriculum and he’s on board.

“We are so proud of Sarah,” said Principal Ben Brown. “Sarah’s hard work and effort exemplify the social awareness and consciousness of our students at Lakota West. By acknowledging the need to invest in the social and emotional health of her peers, Sarah is demonstrating the responsiveness of taking action to meet the needs within the greater construct of our society and issues young people face today.” 

The LOG OFF Movement promotes a 3-7-21 day challenge where teens limit the amount of daily social media usage. “Don’t log off completely,” AbuDakar explains, “but set time limits, engage in other activities like reading and being with people.” She stresses that it’s important to set goals and to be aware of the amount of time you’ve been on social media - and know when to log off. 

AbuDakar follows the advice she is giving teens by deleting social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram when she feels herself getting too attached. She uses journaling to express her feelings. She also stresses the importance of teens understanding the difference between texting and personal interaction. “We need to spend more time thinking before responding,” she said. “Texting is an instant reply but when you talk face-to-face you can show empathy and think about the reactions people have to your responses.”

Above all, AbuDakar wants to raise awareness among teens. “Social media isn’t going to go away. We need to be able to adapt and be aware of the effects it has on us.”