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Maui Prep senior researches Lahaina Intermediate students’ use of social media


Maui Preparatory Academy senior Paloma Banto speaks at the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools 2020 Schools of the Future Conference.

NAPILI — Maui Preparatory Academy senior Paloma Banto became alarmed at the abundance of students hooked to their personal devices during an internship at Lahaina Intermediate School.

Her concern inspired an investigation that resulted in an invitation to present her research findings at the prestigious Hawaii Association of Independent Schools 2020 Schools of the Future Conference on Oahu last month.

Inspired by her passion for psychology, LIS alumnus Banto conducted extensive mixed method research at the school in interviewing five different groups of students about their connection with social media.

Her interest inspired her to investigate the “why” alongside the effects of social media and the daily 4.5 hours of screen time impacting local Lahaina youth.

She shared her findings and literature review at an exhibition of learning on Maui Prep’s campus last spring.

At the conference, Banto delivered a 40-minute keynote presentation to a live virtual audience. She and her advisor on the project, Maui Prep Humanities Teacher John James III, reflected on her work in a way that was intended for teacher and student attendees alike.

The project-based personal inquiry model was well received at the conference and will serve as a blueprint for other students and teachers throughout Hawaii and beyond to experiment with student autonomy, critical thinking and student agency.

Banto’s thesis was that when students are given the freedom to pursue their passions, they will challenge themselves and perform to their highest potential.

Her work, deep drive and pursuit of excellence are a testament to this pedagogical model.

It is a definitive pathway to her hopes to study psychology this upcoming fall in California.