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SCREENAGERS - Conversation Notes and Resources

SCREENAGERS Notes and Resources

SCREENAGERS: Growing up in the Digital Age brought over 100 people together in the Commons last Thursday evening to view and discuss this timely documentary. If you missed the screening, the SCREENAGERS website is an excellent resource for a diverse list of tech topics, including school cell phone policies, addiction, digital citizenship and parenting apps, to name a few. You can sign up for SCREENAGERS’ helpful weekly blog, Tech Talk Tuesdays, which helps parents manage and decrease struggles around screen time. You can also find other screenings in our area and nationwide.

Special thanks to parent moderators Keiko Veasey, Elana Schaust, Mark Garrison, Marcy Zerwes, Angie Endo, Anjula Razdan, Kate Guin, and Sara Doty Owen for leading the small group discussions; to Sara Stenzel and Eddie Stenzel for managing the AV; and to Becky Patton for being so efficient with many behind the scene details. 

Barton 5th-8th graders are watching and discussing SCREENAGERS this week. Ask your kids what they think!  

As one parent put it: the technology our kids are using right now is the least advanced technology they'll use their whole lives. Having discussions and tools now will only help them, and us, make better choices around the growing tech in our lives. We welcome continuing this conversation in our community around tech challenges and possibilities. Please let us know if you're interested by contacting Becky Patton at

--The Leadership Council's Health & Wellness Working Group



Here are brief notes compiled from multiple small group conversations after the SCREENAGERS viewing:

Behavior impacts were a big topic. Parents addressed what they noticed about their child’s behavior when screen time is excessive. Parents compared notes about tech limits and what other families are doing to try to manage screen time in their households. For example, a few parents talked about how the use of digital devices to do homework meant that kids often were doing schoolwork and recreationally using the devices at the same time and that homework could sometimes take hours longer. Some parents finally let their kids use various devices or play various games because their child's peer group was doing it and they didn't want their kid to feel socially isolated. Some parents noted their children often feel left out of the video game loop with other kids if they're not using the same games/tech. This opened up a conversation about balance, and how parents can still have kids use technology without letting it take over.

Parents talked about strategies to keep screen time to a reasonable limit. Parents discussed apps to monitor kids' use of digital devices; one recommendation was Qustodio. Parents said the key to doing this was letting your child know that the parents would be monitoring use. One parent uses an app that limits their kids' time spent on their phones playing games. Parents also mentioned having a family policy of having parents know all tech passwords. A few parents talked about how limiting screen time to Friday-Sunday worked for their families better than parsing it out on a daily basis. It allowed parents to avoid the daily conversation/confrontation about limits and not exceeding them, and it allowed the kids to not focus on even the thought of using screens during the week. Hopefully this freed up more time for creative thinking, other activities, and daydreaming.

One parent said she allowed her older children to use only one social-media platform at a time, so if they were doing Instagram, they could not use Snapchat or Facebook, for example. Another parent discussed allowing her daughter to be on social media but not to post photos of herself. Parents discussed how the Uppers at Barton use their phones at lunch; not all were opposed to it.

Parenting styles came up -- Permissive-Authorative-Authoritarian -- and how that related to some concepts mentioned in the movie. How do adults' responses to children affect their behavior, good and bad?

Other issues discussed include security surrounding technology, the health risks of WIFI exposure, how tech limits change a lot as kids grow older, and how the goal is to have kids manage limits themselves as they become high schoolers and young adults.