Taking Charge – Life Off Screens
I saw the film Screenagers Next Chapter: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience last week – “screenagers” being the term acknowledging how much time modern teens spend on screens, more time than anything else except sleep, sometimes even more than sleep.
The film documents the measurable and rapid rise of stress, anxiety, and depression among American teens in the last ten years, and explores the impact of the rapid increase in cell phone use in the same ten years.
Mostly the film explores what parents and schools can do to help teenagers re-engage in their lives and with each other, recovering real time conversations, experiencing again true introspection and self-reflection, and moving their bodies through play and exercise, which has profoundly positive effects on body-brain health.
Many schools are requiring students to check their phones in their lockers or in classroom cubbies. And introducing instruction in social-emotional intelligence, including peer-led groups to help teens discover the power of empathy and listening to deepen and sweeten connections.
Many schools are introducing mindfulness meditation in classrooms to help students experience the benefit of turning inward rather than turning to their screens to calm an emotional upset.
Parents are asked to keep all the devices in the house out of bedrooms at night. (Teens scrolling their phones under the covers a leading cause of the sleep deprivation which affects mood and academic performance.)
I appreciated the film’s focus on solutions, respecting how hard it is to be a teen these days, how hard it is to be a parent or teacher these days. And focusing on people taking charge of how they spend their time – talking and playing, who they spend their time with – friends face to face, and where – outdoors!