Teens discuss social media, self-esteem

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Teens and their parents gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn Riverfront for the annual Teen Summit on Saturday afternoon.

The annual conference is held by the Suffolk Parks and Recreation and the Suffolk Office on Youth, and it is directed towards teens ages 11 to 17. There are also sessions for parents to attend.

“Why not take advantage of the programs?” said Jerell Willie, a parent who attended. “They are getting resources on all these topics and the parents will too.”

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This is always a big citywide event right before school starts in September, and Recreation Specialist Jessica Taylor described it as a “back-to-school bash.”

“We definitely want them to leave with a greater sense of self-esteem and how to be successful. We want them to know that they are enough,” Taylor said.

The event featured four different topics, two for the teens and two for the adults, including You Are Enough, Dangers of Social Media, Gang Life and How It Affects Families’ Lives and How to Balance Career and Family.

Teens were split by age group and rotated between You Are Enough and Dangers of Social Media.

“Anything that will enable them to learn and develop into young adults is beneficial. We did this last year, but this is a way better beginning for the school year. Especially on social media; (there’s) always something new popping up,” said Tracy Pouncie.

Shaniqua Brooks spent her day giving advice, telling real-life stories and working to build the self-esteem of the teens.

“I started a business, Her Two Cents, and now I speak about life experiences. I decided maybe my purpose was to encourage and inspire people,” Brooks said. “I want to talk about self-esteem, self-love and how to be uplifting even when others aren’t.”

While Brooks talked about self-esteem, she also made it a point to talk with the teens about bullying in schools.

The other topic for the teens revolved around social media and the dangers it can cause. Most of the teens in attendance were aware that social media causes enough trouble already.

“It’s mainly where problems come from, and it is too negative,” said Tyshawn Gray, 16.

With the rise of social media and dating apps, teens were already aware of the scares that can happen by meeting the wrong people.

“Social media takes over people’s lives, and then they meet people on social media and find out they aren’t who they thought they were,” Matt Smith, 12. “It’s not worth the risk.”

After all of the discussions, the parents and the teens had the chance to go to panel discussions with the speakers. The panels give them the chance to talk openly without fear of judgment on any of the topics.

“We have the panel discussions, which gives the speakers a chance for feedback from the youth. They have the chance to speak freely without their parents, and it gives them a chance to get more information,” Taylor said.