Dr Amy Jackson Of Primrose Schools On Raising Children With Healthy Social Media & Digital Media Habits

An Interview With Maria Angelova

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
8 min readJun 11, 2024


Limit screen time — but be thoughtful in approaching this so that it’s natural and not seen as a punishment or irrational mandate. It’s best if it’s built into the typical family routine.

Young people today are growing up in an era where screen time is a given from a very young age. Unfortunately, studies show that large amounts of screen time can be damaging, and social media can be even worse. Our children are facing enormous challenges before their brains and bodies have had a chance to develop fully. Social media can potentially keep kids from developing social cues and lead to increased mental health challenges, bullying, and much more. So what can parents do to create healthier habits around social media? How can kids be taught to use social media in a healthy way that causes as little damage as possible? In this interview series, we are talking to authors, and mental health professionals, about Raising Children With Healthy Social Media and Digital Media Habits. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Amy Jackson.

Dr. Amy Jackson joined Primrose Schools as chief early learning strategy officer in January 2023. In this role, she leads the strategic development of the proprietary Balanced Learning® curriculum and innovation of education services and research across the franchise system. Jackson is an experienced business leader and educator who has dedicated her career to ensuring children have access to high-quality learning experiences and care. Jackson joins Primrose Schools after serving as a senior leader in education technology companies. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University teaching Masters-level courses in education. She began her career as an elementary teacher, and her experience also includes service as an educational consultant supporting instructional effectiveness and school turnaround. Amy holds a doctorate in instructional leadership, a master’s in curriculum, a bachelor’s in early childhood education, and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I have always been drawn to education. I started my career as a teacher and loved every minute of it. But quickly I became fascinated by the broader industry and everything it takes to lead high-quality schools. I moved into consulting and worked primarily with “turnarounds.” I learned so much. Then, an opportunity came about with an education technology company. At that time, instructional technology was relatively new and there was a lot of room for improvement, to say the least. I loved being part of helping classroom technology evolve in a way that truly promotes effective teaching and adds to the delight of learning. And now, all of it is coming together in my role at Primrose, where I have the tremendous honor of working to continuously improve the exclusive, proprietary Balanced Learning® curriculum and support over 500 Primrose schools in providing high-quality early education and care to children around the country.

Can you share the most interesting story that has happened since you started your career?

In my first year as a teacher, I received a letter from a prison. It was from the father of one of my students, who wanted to apologize for not being able to come to parent-teacher conferences. He thanked me for caring about his daughter and helping her believe her future was different and bright. Of course, I’ve always believed in the importance of teachers and the power of education — but that opened my eyes to just how life-changing both really can be.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

One project at Primrose that I am thrilled about (and I know I’m not alone in this) is our creative expansion of the Primrose Friends, which are 12 puppets with unique personalities and character traits in our Happy Hearts Character Development Program. Children in Primrose schools quickly form bonds with the Friends puppets when they see them in the classroom. This is not surprising, as there is a lot of research pointing to the effectiveness of puppetry when it comes to social-emotional and academic development among young children. We are now embedding interactions more intentionally within the curriculum and exploring ways for the Friends to be part of home environments, too.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I’ve read so many incredible books, but silly as it may be, “Harold and the Purple Crayon” is probably the one that has had the greatest impact on me. It shows how far an imagination can take you and how problems can be solved with a little creativity.

Fantastic. Let’s now turn to the main part of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit about why you are an authority on how to help children develop healthy social media habits?

My whole career has been focused on what is right for children. While I have a terminal degree in instructional leadership, it’s my current role that I believe has sharpened my focus on the impact adult decisions — like creating and enabling social media access — have on children. Quite literally every day my team and I contemplate the Primrose classroom environments and programming and evaluate emergent research.

From your experience or research, can you help articulate some of the downsides of children having access to social media? Is there an amount of time, or certain content, that is just too much?

Though it is all relatively recent, research is very clear that technology and social media can have both positive and negative effects on young children. There is indeed opportunity to enhance learning and expand worldviews through media — but too often exposure is excessive and can then quickly become obsessive. We know that too much screentime is associated with social-emotional issues and can even impact children’s physical health. And while many parents believe young children cannot navigate outside of “safe” applications or websites they’ve chosen, advertisements can pop-up unexpectedly and linked content is often easily accessible. By now, many adults laughingly acknowledge the algorithms that persuaded them to buy a new face cream or kitchen gadget… but for some reason we believe that children are immune to these same influences.

Is there a positive side too? Can children gain and grow from social media?

Of course. First, I think we need to recognize that social media (in whatever form it may take) is here to stay. Though it’s unproven given how fast technology is advancing, there is reason to suggest that early exposure can help normalize social media and perhaps make it easier to self-regulate usage later in life. That said, there are plenty of experts who would say the opposite. What is more universally agreed-upon and validated by research is that social media can — when used appropriately — create a positive sense of community and connection. It also helps children learn more about the world and others who live in it, which can increase empathy. Many children (and adults) find confidence-boosting affirmation through social media, which in most cases is a good thing.

Social media is an accepted part of life today. We know that along with all of the good comes a lot of challenges. From your experience or research, what five steps can we take to raise children with healthy social media and digital media habits?

  1. Limit screen time — but be thoughtful in approaching this so that it’s natural and not seen as a punishment or irrational mandate. It’s best if it’s built into the typical family routine.
  2. As a follow-on to the prior step… it’s critical that adults set the right example, too. Children quickly pick up on hypocrisy — so parents should limit their time on social media when their children are present.
  3. Ensure that screentime is not “private.” If you let children use devices, make sure they are in a common space where they know you will look over their shoulder often. And always talk to your child about what they were doing online and how it made them feel. Many parents are surprised at how much their children will share when asked questions.
  4. Play an active role in engaging with technology with your child: Parents can help their children interact with technology in age-appropriate ways without it becoming a primary source of entertainment. For example, parents can work alongside their child to teach them how to responsibility use their new technology like playing educational games together, watching educational videos and listening to learning-focused podcasts. It is the responsibility of the parent to teach healthy boundaries to enforce when it’s time to power technology down.

How do you effectively respond to the constant refrain of “but all my friends do this!”?

There is not a one-size-fits-all to any question related to parenting — so in this case, I would say it depends upon the exposure a child already has and the behaviors they are exhibiting. The first thing parents can do is manage their own screen time, at the very least in the presence of their children.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a parent or educator who would like to learn more about this?

There are a lot of blogs and articles and books — and most of them echo the same guidance that we’ve even discussed here. To me personally, it comes down to knowing your child and knowing what feels right to you.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

For me, it’s a quote from Thomas Edison — “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” I think about that a lot — when I’m trying new things, and when I see others doubting themselves.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I believe every child should feel like they belong in school and in any other environment. But more than that, every child deserves someone who believes in them.

What is the best way our readers can continue to follow your work online?

The Primrose Schools stories and resources page often highlights how we are leading the way in integrating STEM into early education.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!