Screenagers - The Takeaway
On Thursday night, we shared the movie Screenagers with a group of over 100 parents and students in the Hill House gymnasium/theater. The movie followed a mother and father struggling over a decision to allow their 13 year old daughter to own a cell phone with access to video games, social networks, and various apps designed to capture and consume a child’s attentions. The parents explored medical and scientific studies examining the impact of technology on adolescent brains and made a compelling case that, at a minimum, parents should take an active role in regulating their child’s use of technology.
An important takeaway from the film for me was the reminder of how challenging it is to be a parent on this issue of technology. None of our children want to be left out of the intoxicating technology experiences that computers provide. And it can be particularly challenging as a parent to respond to the child who is convinced that he or she is the only student in the class without a cell phone. But the culture of technology is often to consume our children in deeper and deeper worlds of asocial behavior. There are people and businesses that exist today whose primary purpose is to find ways to captivate your children’s attention for increasingly longer periods of time. Technology is a dynamically developing field and demands regular conversation between parent and children.
It is never too late to start this conversation. A number of parents Thursday night brought their children to Screenagers and I am confident that the film generated thoughtful and purposeful discussion at home. (Parents can research upcoming screenings of the film at: https://www.screenagersmovie.com/find-a-screening/)
Another suggestion I liked was for a family to schedule a “No Tech Tuesday”- one evening a week where the entire family abstains from all technology. In the place of technology, parents and children work together to schedule game nights, outdoor adventures, and other social experiences that force all members of the family to interact.
Adolescent children are still developing social skills which will serve as a foundation for their future success and confidence. We need to insure they have time to practice these skills and that they don’t grow up perceiving that the conversations and interactions they have on the computer screen can substitute.