In SCREENAGERS, as with her award-winning documentaries on mental health, Delaney takes a deeply personal approach as she probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction. Through poignant, and unexpectedly funny stories, along with surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, 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.

Psychologist Dr. Alicia Farrell will join us for the panel discussion following the film providing all an excellent opportunity to discuss issues, recommendations for healthy brain and socio-emotional development, the role that parents and educators play, and Q&A.


Parent Guide handout from Movie:

Having weekly, short, calm conversations with your family about tech is so important. Tech Talk
Tuesday (TTT), our weekly blog, offers you tools and tips for discussions. Families tell us it’s
making a huge difference. Visit our website to
try one. It’s never too late to start a conversation about technology but often doing it in baby
steps is more effective. —Delaney Ruston, MD, filmmaker of Screenagers

4 Basic rules to consider— (go to to find ways to enforce rules)

  1. No screens in bedrooms when kids and teens go to sleep (for younger kids keep
    screens out completely). Fact: 75% teens get inadequate sleep. The presence of
    devices disrupts sleep cycles.
  2. Set time goals for studying without multitasking and then, also, take tech breaks. Fact:
    Multitasking is linked to less retention and poorer academic outcomes.
  3. Eat family meals without devices. Fact: Face-to-face conversations improve mood and
  4. Put phones and devices away in the car. Fact: More than half of kids report seeing their
    parents text while driving.

3 Tips to help your child build self-control

  1. Science shows that positive rewards work better than punishment. For example, if you
    observe your child focused while doing their homework without their device, praise them.
  2. Build times when tech is out of sight. Self-control is hard, so decrease temptations.
  3. Use TTT to let your kids share with you about the reasons they like tech in their lives—
    the more they feel understood, the more they’ll work with you on tech limits.

Discussion questions

  • How much time do you think kids in the US spend looking at screens? (Kids spend an
    average of 6.5 hours a day on screens, not including classroom or homework.)
  • How much time do you think you spend each week on screen-related activities?
  • The film featured a study in which baby mice exposed to screen time developed fewer
    cells in the areas of learning and memory than non-exposed mice. Do you think this is
    true for humans too?
  • Do you think violent video games desensitize people to violence?
  • What are some popular games that don’t involve violence?
  • Have you experienced people using screens to avoid face-to-face interactions? Do you
    ever make comments online that you wouldn’t make in person?

Resources at

  • Screen Time Contracts—Tips and screen time contracts templates, including Tessa’s
  • Parenting Apps—Tools that automatically turn off tech at certain times
  • Digital Citizenship—Links to help teach this at home and in schools
  • Parenting Tips—Ongoing practical advice from our blog, TTT and more

From Dr. Alicia Farrell:

Check out Alicia’s blog for excellent advice regarding technology and parenting.

Recommended books by Minds in Motion 2017 (Madison):

  1. Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World by Devorah Heitner
  2. The Big Disconnect: The Story of Technology and Loneliness by Giles Slade
  3. Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead   – this was recommended as a good read for middle-
    schoolers.  It is a novel that deals with the consequences of sending pictures, sexting, online
    bullying, etc.
  4. iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know About Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and
    Growing Up by Janell Burley Hofmann and Carrington MacDuffie
  5. Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age by Richard Freed
  6. iGen: The 10 Trends Shaping Today's Young People – and the Nation by Madeleine Maby and Jean M. Twenge
  7. Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by
    Adam Alter  – this book talks about the way tech companies market to young kids, similar to the
    way Camel cigarettes marketed to young kids.
  8. Reset Your Child’s Brain: A 4 Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social
    Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen Time by Victoria Dunckley

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