“Social media isn’t good or bad, but it is a new language that we need to understand,” said Ana Homayoun, author, speaker and educator.
When she began working with teenagers and young adults at various schools 17 years ago, technology and social media wasn’t an issue for students. However, Homayoun’s observations on technological advances and their impacts on her students led to her most recently published book, “Social Media Wellness,” which she will be speaking about in Sonoma on April 12 at 7 p.m. the Presentation School. Presentation has arranged for her to also speak to students at Sonoma Valley High School and Adele Harrison Middle School earlier that day.
Homayoun says the book stems from the need for teenagers and adults alike to comprehend the changes in today’s world that come with technological advances. It promotes healthy habits with social media and technology in general.
She has a unique perspective on the subject as the schools she used to work at in Silicon Valley were some of the first to bring technology into their educational systems.
Homayoun began to recognize the impact that technology was having on young adults with the release of the first iPhone in 2008. Instead of being distracted by everyday activities, students were finding their biggest distractions to be the internet and social media, whether it be on their phones or the computers used in classrooms.
“Suddenly the same tool that they needed to use to complete their work was their biggest distraction from getting work done,” said Homayoun.
Homayoun has now traveled to over 30 different cities to speak about “Social Media Wellness.” When she speaks in Sonoma, Homayoun will focus on how students can help themselves, and how the adults in their lives can help, too, in terms of making positive choices when using technology and its resources, especially social media
She outlines her approach to the issues surrounding social media with what she has named “The Three S’s,” which stand for Healthy Socialization, Effective Self-Regulation and Overall Safety. Homayoun says this strategy allows the conversation surrounding social media to be “positive, pro-social and solution oriented.”
Behind each of Homayoun’s speaker events is a goal to spark discussion on the problems surrounding social media and how to tackle them. She says she feels successful when she sees audience members staying behind and talking with each other after her talk.
“It builds a conversation around these issues that they might not have been aware of, and they walk out feeling empowered instead of frustrated or frightened,” said Homayoun.
Homayoun has published two other books. Her first, “That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week,” focuses on how to encourage disorganized, messy students to become successful and productive young adults who face and overcome challenges.
Her second is called “The Myth of the Perfect Girl.”
“A lot of the things that I talked about in (‘The Myth of the Perfect Girl’) were how technology gives us more and more messages about how we should act, look and be,” said Homayoun. “And how do we filter and how do we opt in and how do we opt out.”
Although Homayoun is already in the early stages of writing her next book, she is still dedicating a great amount of time to “Social Media Wellness.” She will continue traveling and speaking on the book’s ideas and topics while also working with schools to come up with programs and strategies for promoting organization and positive social media usage.
Where Homayoun is speaking on April 12
Sonoma Valley High School at 11:50 a.m. (freshman and sophomores students)
Adele Harrison Middle School at 2:15 p.m. (all students)
Presentation School at 7 p.m. (open to public)
$20 for adults, free for children