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Altamont Student Featured in National Anti-Social Media Video and on New York Newscast
Laine Williams

Emma Lembke, a senior at The Altamont School, was recently featured in two outlets: a national video called "Pro Social Media Teens vs. Anti Social Media Teens" for a series called Middle Ground through Jubilee Media and an interview by Bridge Street, a tv news show in Syracuse, New York. She discussed LOG OFF, a movement she began that is dedicated to rethinking social media by teens for teens.

Starting as Emma's Miree project, the idea for LOG OFF came after Emma noticed social media's negative effect on her mental health. "The constant bombardment with a never-ending feed worsened my anxiety and left me instilled with unrealistic expectations for my life," said Emma. Now, LOG OFF has grown into a global movement with a Teen Leadership Council made up of 30 teens from 13 different countries. Podcast episodes, blog posts, a character education curriculum and digital detox challenges are just a few of the ways the LOG OFF movement furthers the dialogue about the multifaceted nature of social media and promotes a healthy usage of it.

The Middle Ground video compares and contrasts the viewpoints of young people on opposite sides of the social media spectrum. The Jubilee Media's YouTube channel has over 5 million subscribers. Participation in this video shoot was a high school highlight for Emma. "As a young child, I dreamed of moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting and singing career. Although my career aspirations have shifted, the opportunity to be in front of cameras to speak about an issue of the utmost importance to me was exhilarating," said Emma.

This experience gave her the opportunity to listen to other participants' stories that contrast her own. Five other teens from across the nation participated in this video. Hearing positive stories about the beneficial nature of social media was invaluable. "As a digital wellness advocate, I speak with children and adults about the ways that social media has impacted them (usually negatively). It is imperative that I heard these positive stories because social media is in fact a multifaceted entity. After this experience, I will work harder to spread digital consciousness and awareness while simultaneously celebrating the beneficial aspects of the apps," said Emma.

She even had the opportunity to give The Altamont School a shout-out during the interview question, "does social media educate you more than your school does?" Emma praised the school's ability to integrate conversations about current events into the academic dialogue. "I am very lucky [to attend Altamont]," Emma said. Altamont's mission is to improve the fabric of society by graduating compassionate, well-educated individuals capable of independent thinking and innovative ideas. Giving students the space to have important conversations prepares them for productive lives.

She was also interviewed this week by Bridge Street, a tv news show in Syracuse, New York. During the interview, she mentioned that social media is a double-edged sword. "It's imperative that teens start to discuss healthier social media habits in order to mitigate its harm on their mental health," Emma said.

The LOG OFF movement began as Emma's Miree project. Altamont's C. Kyser Miree Ethical Leadership Center helps students find their unique expression of leadership and empowers them to discover the strength and beauty of service. Miree projects are based on individual interests that serve a need in the greater Birmingham community. Additionally, Miree Leaders complete over 80 hours of community service, attend 12 cultural events, and successfully defend their leadership experiences in order to earn the Miree Commendation on the Altamont diploma. Currently, 80 Altamont students are conducting Miree projects in the Birmingham community.

Emma's hope for LOG OFF is that it will serve as a catalyst for change and a platform to highlight young voices. To learn more about LOG OFF, go to logoffmovement.org. To learn more about The Altamont School, go to www.altamontschool.org.

Disclaimer: The first video contains an instance of profanity that is edited out.

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