On March 16, ALCS hosted a screening of the award-winning documentary SCREENAGERS. This documentary deals with the impact of screens on our children and society. In SCREENAGERS, physician and director Delaney Ruston probes the struggles over social media, video games, academics, and internet addiction. This poignant documentary offers surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists along with funny stories from kids. SCREENAGERS reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.
Some notes and highlights of what we learned from SCREENAGERS . . .
- One of the challenges for youth and adults is the balance screen use with time interacting with people; there IS great value in face to face interaction.
- Our brains are wired to be curious and to seek new information and the wealth of content on the Internet spurs time spent in front of screens.
- One of the challenges that screens have created is a lack of discipline in attending or focusing / paying attention to other people or things; the discipline to pay attention is important to life.
- 68% of high school-aged kids own a smartphone as of 2015 and that number is growing.
- In school, research proves that if a student (A) is working next to someone (B) with their smartphone out, the first student (A) will be affected by the other student’s (B) phone and A’s performance will be reduced.
- Some have argued that time spent on cell phones is no different than doodling or day dreaming, but there is a measurable difference. With doodling and day dreaming, various areas of the mind are engaged and working, creating, problem solving, etc.
- One of the single most valuable personal traits a student can develop is self-control; it has been proven more valuable than intelligence in measuring success; this trait manifests itself as the ability to self-regulate, to practice/use self-control, and to set clear boundaries.
- Many students use social media and time on screens as a way to avoid awkward social situations; they ‘hide’ behind their screens, away from other people and even reality. They can appear ‘busy’ or ‘engaged’ or even ‘important’ because they are actively tapping away on a phone or pad.
- Making eye contact matters, but screenagers are losing that ability; they are uncomfortable looking someone in the eye and use the screens to deflect and/or avoid.
- Screenagers are missing a key element of relational development – person to person interaction; time spent with someone, engaging with them is how we build relationship.
- Multiple studies of multi-tasking show that it is not an effective means to get things done and while we are actually doing worse and worse, we believe and feel like we are doing better and better. Our brains are not wired to multi-task; they oscillate between tasks in a back and forth motion when we try to multi-task which results in overstimulation that tires the brain faster.
- Good news! In just 5 days being tech free, brain scientists see restoration of the capacity for empathy and growing of awareness of sensitivity toward others while seeing a reduction of aggressive behaviors.
- Experts recommend NO technology in the bedroom as we are seeing an increase of disrupted sleep of youth due to texting and social media use in the overnight hours.
- Experts also recommend that car time be a tech free time.
SCREENAGERS starts the conversation. This is an area ripe for learning and discussion. We hope that you will take the time to consider the effects of screens on your student and begin the discussion with her/him. Checkout the SCREENAGERS website for ideas, discussions starters, and more.