Growing Up Latina

written by Stephanie Puente

I was born in the United States, but my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were born in different parts of Mexico. My dad and grandma only speak Spanish, which made it very difficult for me to communicate with them because I was accustomed to the English language. As I got older, I took Spanish classes and was becoming fluent in the language. I was very afraid to speak Spanish because we live in El Paso where the majority of people speak Spanish and judge you for not knowing Spanish well. I think this mentality made me question my identity as a Latina because my appearance does not look Latina, so many people always asked me if I spoke Spanish. I began to doubt my identity because of the lack of fluency in the language, but it was through my culture that I was able to gain confidence in who I am.

In my culture, food, traditions, and family plays a huge impact in who we are. For example, during Christmas, my family always gets together to help make tamales. It is part of our tradition and we are able to spend more time together. It was through my family’s customs that I gained more confidence in who I am and began to take pride in my identity. I was able to gain more confidence in speaking Spanish to my family and others, without the fear of being judged. My culture has allowed me to take pride in who I am and not question what others have to say to me about my own identity.

Growing up as a Latina, my biggest fear was not being accepted. However, as I got older, I began to understand that I am me. I am a unique individual and no one can take my identity away from me other than myself.  It is important to believe in who you are and not let others judge how you perceive your own identity. Therefore, I am glad my culture redirected me to believe in my Latina identity when others questioned my role as a Latina.

Latina Leadership in Guatemalan Animal Sanctuary

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In Guatemala City there’s an animal sanctuary that helps restore injured individuals and populations, and also helps establish the re-release of native species. The sanctuary, named Asociación de Rescate y Conservación de la Vida Silvestre (ARCAS), began as the small Mayan Biosphere Reserve in 1989, but in 1995, expanded into Petén, Guatemala, and Hawaii. ARCAS was founded by a group of Guatemalan citizens, who worked alongside other organizations. While alliances have changed, volunteers have always made up the bulk of the team. Today, we can recognize the efforts of three Latina workers for the success of ARCAS.

Miriam Monterroso, the sister of ARCAS founder Tulio Monterroso, is the current Executive Director of the sanctuary. She took power of the Board of Directors in 1994, after a US NGO affiliate was revealed to be corrupt, causing the reputation of ARCAS to fall, along with economic support. Monterroso, however, was able to turn that setback around, and make the organization stronger. She partnered up with CONAP (Consejo Nacional de Àreas Protegidas, or National Protected Area Council), SIGAP (Sistema Nacional de Àreas Protegidas, or National System of Protected Areas),  San Carlos University, the Human Society International (HSI), and the ZACC (Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation) accredited Columbus Zoo; each of which have helped to establish wildlife research, protection programs, or seminars. In fact, Monterosso herself has lead seminars, such as the 2010 Mangrove Seminar and 2012 ARCAS annual strategic planning seminar. She has also met with representatives across nations, such as Councilman Shinchi Kitajima of Jeju, Korea, for worldwide support. Within ARCAS itself, she has been able to expand the sanctuary into other locations, covering a larger variety of animals available for rescue. Monterosso’s latest project involves the proposed Guatemalan Animal Welfare Law. Currently, Guatemalans cannot report acts of animal cruelty. Implementation of the proposed law would set guidelines for the care of domestic pets, livestock, and even wildlife.

Another current project of ARCAS is the 2016 project to conserve the Yellow-naped Amazon, a species of parrot vulnerable to habitat loss through deforestation. Guatemalan biologist Christina Arravillaga was contracted to lead project. Some of her approaches include training local researchers on monitoring parrot data and establishing education activities at six sites. The project is considered to be a permanent program.

Lucia Garcia, the Director of ARCAS Hawaii, has also implemented programs to save a variety of species. To get to her role from her initial job as a freelance researcher, she faced obstacles like “gender inequality, lack of resources,” and “lack of enough staff.” However, she is now content with her position, claiming that it is more of a “daily passion” than job.

“I feel I have impacted wildlife population; my work here has been with the community in education and in community development. I am sure they (local children) are more conscious about their resources and will take care of (them). At the end, they are the future,” Garcia explains.

As of today, she is working on “policies and laws with the community, master plan of the marine protected area, implement(ation) of a system of trash…tourism, environmental education, migration research with the University of Naples, crawl count data with Telemark University, (and) animal rescue.” Definitely a full, but heroic schedule!

“In Guatemala, gender inequality is one of our greates(t) problem(a)s.” Lucia Garcia confesses. However, at ARCAS “we try to be a place where women have the same opportunities as men. We give equal salaries, we encourage and empower teenagers and girls to get involve(d) with (the) environment, in a way that betters their way of life.”

Considering the leadership and program coordination positions that women take in ARCAS, along with all those who support through volunteering, it can be easily seen that without allowing women in the workplace, ARCAS wouldn’t be as successful. The success of the sanctuary is important to the research and conservation of some of the world’s species, who each play a key role in the preservation of their beautiful environments and our beautiful Earth. Every individual’s contribution counts, no matter who you are, or how much you can achieve. According to Garcia, “there are going to be difficult moments, but have with yourself people that you can trust and that trust you… that will make the difficulties weaker.”

Ringing in the New Year: Self-Reflection

The year is almost over! Therefore, give yourself some time ahead to spend a moment doing personal reflection before the year ends.  Self-reflection is a great way to start the new year. Practicing self-reflection has been practiced for centuries and it’s rooted in the world’s greatest spiritual traditions. But what does self-reflection mean?

Self-reflection can be done by anyone! Genuine self-reflection helps us to analyze what we give and receive — whether it’s friendship or an act of kindness. Having an in-depth analysis helps us improve our relationships with our loved ones, with people that we interact at school or at work, and is a powerful way to improve your overall performance. The best part of self-reflection is that it can turn into a habit.

Here are some ways to practice self-reflection:

  • Gratitude Journal: Every morning write 3 things that you’re grateful for, 3 things that will make your day great and a daily affirmation. You can even find apps for electronic devices and take your journal wherever you go.

 

  • Mindfulness: The practice of “the here and now” helps us enjoy our lives to the fullest. Choose a time of the day to admire a garden, a painting, a picture or a video of nature and let your mind forget about problems and the never ending “to-do list.” Practicing mindfulness will give your mind a break by increasing your focus/awareness of what is around you.

 

  • A QUICK moment: Remember this acronym at the end of each day

    • Q…..Question yourself, actions, reactions, and behaviors.

    • U…..Understand your “aha” moments and trace your objectives based on them.

    • I…..Inquire feedback from others. This will help to see yourself from a different perspective.

    • C.….Conquer honesty. Be honest with yourself, probably one of the hardest steps, but, don’t worry, practice makes perfect!

    • K…..Keep it sweet and simple. Write a journal at the beginning and end of your day so you can track your improvements.

Self-reflection means focusing on both the positive and negative aspects of your life and how you can move forward and become a better you. Press the reset button by doing a self-reflection before the year ends and charge your baterias for the New Year.

From El Paso to Califas: Pachuco Subculture

Written by Veronica Martinez

The iconic chuca and chuco look can still be seen today, and this iconic trend is more than a fashion statement. There’s a rich history, like the Zoot Suit riots, that is tied to the pachuco and pachuca subcultures. A chuco or pachuco is a subculture that started in Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, TX– neighboring border cities. The subculture started in El Paso in the 1930’s and later on moved up to California, especially in Los Angeles. Along with other cultural trends, the pachucos led to creating a slang of Mexican spanish, caló, and helped pave the way for the Chicano Movement.

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Photo Credit: https://www.kcet.org/departures-columns/seventy-years-later-the-zoot-suit-riots-and-the-complexity-of-youth-culture

Pachucos were often seen in zoot suits, these were very oversized pants and coats, and were often called zooters. The clothes were inspired by the 1920’s Chicago gangsters. Chucos were often associated with gangs, although most of them were not related to any illicit activities. The clothes were more about the trend and for dancing. It would have been very hard to dance to the music emerging from swing and bebop of the 1940’s in tight pants.

When the pachuco trend started, the trend also led to questioning one’s identity. Being bicultural has always been difficult for Mexican-Americans. Si no eres de aqui ni eres de ella, so how do you prove your American pride? Chicano boys signed up for the army during WWII as much as the Anglo boys did.According to Senator Robert Mendez, more than 9,000 Latinos died during World War II. However, statistics are problematic because, unlike African Americans that served in segregated units, Latinos were counted with the white males that served.

Now, about the chucas. These girls were tough, ok? In the way that they were cool, strong and non-traditional girls. Since girls were expected to stay at home, chucas defied society’s standards and would often go out and spend time with their Mexican-American boyfriends and other chucas and chucos. Women were constantly told by their mothers that they should stay at home, out of trouble, and out of those short skirts.

Chucas broke a lot of the social rules during this era. Women, at least a respectable woman, was expected to be at home, but pachucas often appeared in public with their boyfriends and wore loose pants like their male counterparts. Yeah, stay home flipping tortillas? No, thanks.

The history of chucos and chucas are an important part of our Mexican-American culture. The next time you see the word “zoot suit,” know that it’s not just a piece of clothing. It is a way of life that helped pave the way for Mexican-Americans in the U.S.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

There aren’t too many Bindi Irwins out there, and what I mean by that is, unfortunately, not many girls have the privilege of being raised in a zoo. Animal lovers in big cities do exist, but often feel deprived and helpless. How can a city girl help wild animals if there aren’t any in the city to protect? We may have adorable puppies and kittens, but few of us get to nurture Nile crocodiles the way Bindi does.

One important thing to recognize is that cities actually impact wildlife even more so than any zoo.

Yes, zoos might have breeding and rehabilitation programs that have been known to save entire species, but cities are often the SOURCE of extinction itself. What better way to combat extinction than to fix the system that’s causing it? A preemptive attack!

According to Jane Goodall, the woman who revolutionized the human view of primates, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

As of now, America’s general choice to use fossil fuels to power vehicles and technology (which most of us “rely” on), and to consume large amounts of fish, beef, and PLASTIC (hopefully, in this case, simply by using), creates a carbon footprint ⅓ the size of the Earth! This means that ⅓ of the Earth’s surface area would be needed to produce the amount of resources we use within a given period.

If I just made you feel insignificant by shoving you into a statistic the size of the U.S.A., your mindset needs to change. Instead of insignificant, you should feel RAGE! You should think, “NO! I refuse to cause so much environmental damage!” If every person though that, the contributions would add up. When you decide to reduce your carbon footprint, you inspire others to do the same.

How can you reduce your carbon footprint?
Be mindful of the nature around you.
You may see ugly houses and concrete, but between every bricks’ crack, there is a world of insects, who help nourish our soil, eventually nourishing our plants. Plants are beautiful creatures! They not only feed the world, but provide materials, medicines, and most of all- oxygen. We breathe out toxic carbon, but plants breathe in carbon, and release what we need.

Gardening is a great way to reduce, or at least counter, your carbon footprint.
Make sure, however, that the plants you grow are native to your area. My Grandma Dora often plants aloe vera, for example, because they “don’t require much water”- a major plus when you live in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Conserving water is important.
When you take a shower, time yourself, or buy a showerhead that reduces water output. Less than 1% of our Earth’s water is usable fresh water for humans and animals to share. We need not destroy it!

By destroying it, I not only mean “don’t use it at such a fast rate,” but also “don’t contaminate it.” This is where consumerism comes into play, whether by eating or buying. When we eat beef, we threaten water in two ways. One, cattle are often, to their risk of health, fed hundreds of pounds of corn each. Corn is considered a “thirsty” crop meaning that it takes a large amount of water to grow crop, per pound. By eating beef instead of crop material itself, we use 20 times more water. The other way eating beef causes water harm, is that cattle can erode land as they walk, dropping dirt (and possibly feces) into nearby rivers.

Recycle!
Plastic contaminates water because it takes hundreds of years to break down. Littering has led to some plastic directly falling into water, altering its pH with the chemicals it’s made of. Landfills indirectly affect water as the chemicals can seep into the ground as the plastic degrade, causing groundwater to be acidic.

If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with animals, let’s talk fish. Yes, over consumption of fish has significantly affected fish population, but so has water contamination and climate change.

Climate change is caused by increased levels of CO2, usually due to fossil fuel burning, which destroys the ozone. The ozone protects the Earth from the sun’s radiation- a super hot thing!Electricity and gasoline usually rely on fossil fuels. If you want to use less coal, you should consider reducing your use of technology or vehicle transport.

Climate change affects animals for many reasons, including relying on particular weather patterns to initiate rituals like migration and breeding (climate signals time of year for most animals), and requiring certain vegetation for food, which requires themselves a specific amount of sunlight for photosynthesis.

 Gardening, conserving water, reducing beef, fish and plastic consumption, as well as limiting technology and vehicle usage, are ways to be the Bindi Irwin of the city. Our hope is always for the next generation to improve their mindset towards environmentalism. Keep that value alive, and one day, city girls and animals can live in harmony!

Letter to a Younger Me

Young girl,

You never walk alone, just misunderstood.

Yes, you are unique,

But life’s conditions, those are few and we’re all afflicted.

So don’t be scared to tell about yourself,

You’d be surprised when people open about themselves

How much like you they are.

That being said,

Always take their good advice,

And be able to tell wrong from right.

And if you fall get back up,

And if you fail…

Well lets just say, you shouldn’t,

Because every day, every hour, every second,

That’s a second chance.

And if for some reason you look back and feel regret,

Well then that’s a reason to try again.

And once you do that you have no longer failed,

You simply had a minor set back.

As for where you’re going,

You probably don’t know yet,

And if you do,

well I wouldn’t be surprised if the destination changed.

But what I will say is that that’s OK.

Follow your dreams,

Do what makes you happy,

And do all you do with passion,

I know that sounds cliché.

But it’s true,

in life everything falls into place,

even chaos has some order to it.

So in the meantime just be.

Just Be you.

Girl Talk: Teen Pregnancy

Gabby Silva shares her thoughts on teen pregnancy:

Latinas have had the highest rate on teen pregnancies since 1995 over all the major ethnicities in the country. Only 80% of teenagers do not receive any type of sexual education before they encounter their first sexual relationship. Lack of sexual education is problematic for Latinas, especially when 51% of Latinas become pregnant before they turn 20.

One out four teenagers that end up pregnant are in between the ages of 15 and 17 and eight out of ten of the teenage fathers do not stay with the mother. The list of disadvantages of being a teenage mom can be long, but it is important when it comes to having sexual relationships teenagers have the accurate information.

Teenagers do not see how drastically a baby can change their lives, especially with how a baby affects their education. Balancing an education and a child is incredibly difficult. Only 38% of teenage moms earn a high school diploma! Having to manage all the homework/study time while taking care of their baby also means less than 2% graduate with a college degree by the time they turn 30. Think it stops with the mom? NOPE! Their kids will also show low performance in school. In fact, 50% of the kids will fail a grade level.

There are serious and negative consequences for having a baby at such a young age, but it does not mean that every teenage mom is doomed to fail. But  having a baby should be a two people’s agreement, and not an accident where teenagers are going to be forced to support the baby.

 

Favorite Cultural Traditions

Chicas share their favorite cultural tradition. 

“My favorite Mexican culture tradition is the food. Which is not exactly a tradition, but it’s the best thing ever.

Mexican food is great! What I love the most about it is how there’s a classic dish that we all love at every family gathering. This is what makes me feel happy, not only for enjoying the food, but also because of what it means. After years and years of trying different types of food, nothing tastes as good as Mexican food to me. I always go back to tacos (the real ones), to enchiladas, mole or whatever is on the table.

Mexican food makes me proud because it is recognized everywhere in the world. This food is from where I belong. Mexican food is best prepared in my home country and, even if someday I get to be far from home, I’ll always remember my family and my hometown because of it.” – Fandi Zapien, 19

 

“My grandmother has always been devoted to La Virgen de Guadalupe. Since we were young she taught us her story, her prayers and how much faith she had in her.

I remember loving when December 12 would come around. Buñuelos, calientitos, champurrado, and posole were some of the food items that were never missing. My favorite part, of course, were the matachines guadalupanos, dancers that would move to the beat of the drums. They would make  so much noise with their colorful attires with every step they took. Also, they would dance in front of a statue of La Virgen de Guadalupe, decorated with flowers and twinkly lights, and would carry her with so much love and care and would dance for her and in her honor. Then, these men dressed in black and with very peculiar masks would dance around, play tricks on people and try to distract the dancers with no success. My mother would tell me it was all part of the performance and it would reassure everyone’s faith.

I also loved how the whole neighborhood would gather around. After the dancers performed they were invited to eat with us. We would serve them and everyone would eat together all the delicious food my grandmother and her vecinas cooked all day long.

At that age I only understood that it was a religious tradition. Something my grandmother, tías, mom, and everyone I knew, had so much faith in. When I grew up I learned more about it. Why people dance for her, why they continue to have faith in her and her whole story, which many don’t know goes way back to when her name was actually Tonantzin. I was so glad to find out that this was something that connected us to our indigenous roots, something I’ve always loved, and it only made me love this day and her story even more.

Now it is my favorite tradition. To me it is more than a religious ceremony or event. It is about family traditions, cultural values and indigenous roots. Things I believe one should never forget.” – Itzel Barraza, 24

 

“My favorite cultural tradition is September 16. I love Mexican food, so I really enjoy this celebration, as well as the dances. I think that this celebration makes people who are far from Mexico become close with their beloved country. The food is so delicious! I love the taquitos, enchiladas, churros, entomatadas, the beverages like limonada, jamaica. GOD! I can go over everything. I really enjoy that people dress as charros and adelitas. I mean, what other cultural tradition can be better than this one? If I were far from my Mexico, this would be the tradition that I would celebrate to get close to my culture. Mexico has many rich and colorful cultural traditions that make it unique and special.” – Ariadne Venegas, 23

 

“My favorite part about my culture is definitely the food. It’s what makes me, me. I love it, I worship it! (not really) but it is awesome! The Enchiladas, the tacos, tostadas, the spiciness, flautas, guacamole, and everything in between! When I think of the food, my face transforms into the emoji with the heart eyes and a smile!– Polet Espinoza, 23

Finding Your Identity

Chicas share how they found their identity through their culture. 

“There was a time in my life where I was confused and hurt, to the point of being embarrassed, of being Latina. I felt this all the way up to high school. I didn’t get the racist remarks that were being thrown around, especially hurtful comments coming from other Latinos.

I don’t think anybody wants to be targeted just because of hate full stereotypes. So growing up and listening to people blaming things like the economy on immigrants or “go back to your country,” was pretty hard to swallow.

The way that I began to accept and see my heritage in a positive light was to respect and admire my parents. They are the epitome of hard workers in a country where their heritage is ridiculed. Once I realized the amazing sacrifice they made for my family, it was the moment when I stopped being ashamed. This of course applies to all parents from Latin American countries, where some of us wouldn’t even be here.

The next step was something that I already followed. This was appreciating the beauty of my culture. I mean in the telenovelas are the bomb, well some of them, especially comedic ones like La Fea Más Bella. I’ve always loved Mexico’s beautiful scenery and its various cities.

Another thing that helped me was to know that one’s culture is so much more than what the haters have to say, who really are just full of ignorance. When you are really full of positivity there is not much to pull you out of there.” –Sarai Melchor, 21

 

 

 

“My parents and I have always identified as Hispanic. Despite my grandparents being from Mexico (except for my Chinese maternal grandfather), my parents grew accustom to the culture where they were born and raised in: Belize. For those of you who do not know, Belize is the only country in Central America that doesn’t have Spanish as the official language; however, more than 50% of Belizeans’ first language is Spanish and identifies as Hispanic/Latino. Much like the United States, Belize is a multicultural nation, and the term Hispanic is prominently used to describe someone from a Spanish-speaking family.

The first time I self-identified as Latina instead of Hispanic was in the fourth grade. It started when a bleach blonde-haired boy asked me the common question: “What are you?”

I could’ve answered human and pranced away like a clever goddess, but 10-year old me wasn’t quite yet fluent in quick sarcasm.

“I’m Asian — and Latina,” I answered cautiously.

My schoolchildren peers’ eyes widened in shock. Their reactions were similar to if I had blurted one of the seven words you should never say on television (by the way, don’t look that up, kiddos!). However, their expressions went from shock to slight disgust quickly.

“Isn’t that, like.. I thought that…that’s a bad word,” stumbled the bleach blonde-haired boy.

A bad word? I thought. I stood there quietly (I was an extremely timid child).

The now-blushing, naive bleach blonde-haired boy continued, “Well, you know, that is used for dirty girls.. BIG girls.. like, women.. who are, you know.. they’re in those music videos and other dirty videos.. and they’re oily and they try to be s-e-x-y.”

If someone was to say that to the present-day me, I would’ve sit them down and school them with my Big Book of Radical Intersectional Feminism: The Woke Latina Edition (coming to a hippie book fair near you!). But 10-year old me just walked away.

I think the media’s portrayal of Latinas is partially to blame for the contribution of the bleach-blonde haired boy’s offensive perception of Latinas. We are often stereotyped as sultry mistresses, and if we’re not the sultry mistress, we are the “no-speak-English” maids. For example, the talented Columbian actress Sofia Vergara, mostly known for her character, Gloria, in the tv series Modern Family, can be incredibly funny. But I’ve noticed her skits on award shows or other tv specials misuses her sexuality as the main focus.

And I’m not suggesting that celebrating your body is dehumanizing. Some women are empowered by showing more skin and embracing their sexuality, and that’s absolutely okay! But it shouldn’t define Latinas as a whole. We are more than sexiness. I naturally break Latina stereotypes by being extremely quiet and dressing conservatively, but I don’t think young Latinas should focus on breaking stereotypes because it pressures young girls to assimilate with American culture for acceptance. I want to be remembered as a kind person who loved literature, social justice, and animals. And the way I dress, whether it’s conservative or exposing, and the way I talk, chatty or soft, shouldn’t contribute to who I am. (Take notes, little bleach blonde-haired boy!)

As for labeling myself Latina or Hispanic, I embrace both terms. I am Latina because my grandparents are from Latin America, and I am Hispanic because I grew up in a Spanish-speaking family. But in my heart and my blood, I am of East Asian (Chinese) and Indigenous (Mayan) descent, and I proudly identify as that.” – Kayla Alamilla, 17

5 Tips to Break the Phone Habit

Since social media is everywhere, there has to be a balance between the world we create and share online, the life we lead, and the responsibilities we have every day. With all the social media websites and apps nowadays, instant communication and information is at the touch of our finger tips. Young Latinas have been brought up in a world of technology and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you have a healthy balance between your everyday life and your social media world.

Social media is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. A place where you can communicate with friends and family, as well as express yourself and share different occasions in your life with your loved ones, but there can also be cons if you allow it to consume your life.

According to a 2015 survey by Pew Research Center, “92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online ‘almost constantly.'” Furthermore, the “Hispanic youth report more frequent internet use than white teens, at 32% compared to 19%.” Results of the survey indicate that “Girls dominate social media while boys are more likely to play video games.” It is obvious that us girls love our Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and texting, but there is more to enjoy then just our phones. Here are five tips that will allow all you to have the best of both worlds:

1. Turn Your Phone Off at School 

School is important and it’s one of your most important responsibilities as a young girl. I know, I know, one thing you always hear is no phones in class, but it is very important not allow your social media, whether it be text messages, Instagram, twitter, etc. to distract you from your school work. There will be time later on to check your phone and post what you want, but school is not the place or time.

2. Call a Friend Instead of Texting

We all love to text; it’s easy, fast, and even fun, but why not call a friend up and see how they are doing. We would all rather hangout with friends and family then to just text them, but the next best thing is to hear their voice. Phone conversations are a great way to communicate with the people you want to talk to without having to constantly check your phone. Your parents will think you are more mature as well!

3. No Phones at the Table

Hectic days sometimes means that we don’t always get to spend enough time with our family. For a Latino family, eating with your family is very important. It’s a time to have a conversation, know what everyone is up to, and laugh. Many of us bring our phones everywhere, and I mean everywhere, but when it’s time to eat with our family we should reserve that time for just that and put the phones away.

Faith, 9, says “I put my phone away or leave it at home, or put it on silent so it doesn’t interfere with my life.”

4. Your Phone Should have a Bedtime, too

Okay, I know it sounds funny, but when we have our phones with us in bed we tend to stay on them. Then, an hour has passed and you were supposed to be asleep two hours ago! I’m guilty of this myself, but when I do put my phone aside before I go to bed, I get to sleep faster and I’m better rested in the morning.

5. Make time for Face-to-Face Contact

Our phones are our life, at least it may seem that way when we’re young, but what is really important is the relationships we have with each other, more importantly the quality of those relationships. Spending time with the ones we love, and hanging out with friends, are the memories that will last a lifetime. So put down the phone, not forever, but just for a while and go spend time with a good friend.

Many young girls agree that there should be a healthy balance between social media and real life. Some even prefer not to use their phones as much. Emily, 17, says “Having to look down at a keyboard rather than looking up at pair of eyes makes me feel more confined to technology than reality.”

Another way not to always spend so much time on your phones is doing something you enjoy.  Feliz, 14, says: “Once you find a hobby that you are passionate about will help you connect to the outside world. You can meet new people, go to new places, and experience life so much better rather than being on your phone. It will open so many more opportunities for you.”

As long as you know the time and the place to use your phone, technology won’t affect you negatively. Social media is fun, and who can’t resist sharing a picture of their abulita’s delicious food, or taking selfies at your familia’s fiesta, or sharing a cute pic of your dog, but sometimes moments are best experienced without a phone.