On my recent group tour for prospective parents of King Middle School in Berkeley, a hot topic on the minds of the parents of soon-to-be sixth graders was cell phones. Do middle schoolers need phones? Will they start obsessing about Instagram likes if they have phones? Zoning out during conversations because they are looking at their phones instead of making eye contact?
I don’t think I’m overreacting when I suggest that raising kids who carry a video camera/gaming device/instant chat screen around with them is a big cultural shift.
Physician, filmmaker, mom, and Berkeley native Delaney Ruston found herself constantly struggling with her two kids about screen time. Guilty and confused, not sure what limits were best, especially around mobile phones, sharing pictures, gaming, and how to monitor online homework, Delaney recognized that it was time to start exploring this parenting issue more deeply.
“As a doctor, I decided I needed to understand the impact of all this screen time on kids. And as a mom, I needed to know what to do.”
Partnering with Lisa Tabb, a film producer and parent who went to Berkeley’s King Middle School herself (long before mobile phones were a tool of pre-adolescents) they turned on the camera and produced Screenagers — revealing stories that depict messy struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction.
I watched the Screenagers trailer Lisa sent me and felt panicked.
Examples of stories include Hannah’s, an 14-year old victim of social media bullying that stemmed from her trying to hide her use of social media from her mom. And then there’s Andrew’s story: a straight-A student whose love of video games spins out of control when he goes off to college and lands in an internet rehab center.
Screenagers is the first feature documentary to explore the impact of screen technology on kids and to offer parents proven solutions that work.
Interwoven into these stories, are cutting edge science and insights from thought leaders such as Peggy Orenstein, Sherry Turkle, Simon Sinek, and parenting experts as well as leading brain scientists who present evidence on real changes going on in the brain. Viewers learn why kids are so drawn to screens and how being informed helps families set limits to gain the benefits of responsible screen time.
How to see Screenagers
2- Parents, educators, PTAs and workplace groups can book a screening at www.screenagersmovie.com. Screenings can be booked on an event-by-event basis, and parents are encouraged to bring their kids to the movie. To host a screening of the film, pay a $500 screening fee. If you want to recoup this fee by selling tickets, then Indieflix will happily set up an Eventbrite link for easy ticket sales and promotion of your event. (Suggested ticket price is $10 in advance and $15 at the door). All ticket sales above the screening fee are kept entirely by your group.