Nicole DeAvilla Interviews Delaney Ruston, Director of "Screenagers!" by Donna John
Are you concerned about your children’s screen time? Kids are growing up differently today. They are growing up with screens in every aspect of their lives: family, school, recreation and social. Scientists are telling us that this is literally wiring our kids’ brains to be different. Does it matter? Is it a good, bad or neutral for our kids? Award-
winning documentary filmmaker, primary care physician and mom, Delaney Ruston, asked these questions, too, and created the timely and important documentary film,”Screenagers.” 30Second Mom contributor Nicole DeAvilla (@NicoleDeAvilla) interviewed Delaney about her new film, how much screen time is too much and how parents can help their kids bring balance to their lives. Here’s what she had to say!
Q: Why is this movie important now?
Handling kids’ screen time is one of the biggest parenting issues of our time. Kids spend an average of 6.5 hours a day on screens, and that does not include classroom or homework screen time. Boys spend on average 1.5 school days on video games each week. We live in a screen-based culture; this impacts kids and their development. I believe it deserves serious discussion.
Q. How will watching “Screenagers” help parents?
“Screenagers” offers a solution on how we can help our kids:
- Create a written contract with your kids to define tech goal and limits.
- Review and collaborate with your children on the contract.
- Provide your children with access to offline activities.
- Teach moderation. Screens are like sugar – addictive.
- We need to teach moderation and responsible use. Total abstinence is NOT a solution.
- Parents should model good behavior. In “Screenagers” we interview a kid who says her mom is on her phone too much.
Q: Can kids learn to set screen-time limits are their own?
Screen time is associated so strongly on the reward centers of our brains, for some it’s almost impossible. Research shows increased dopamine release with video and social screen use. So, screen time can actually make people feel better through this hormone release. Dopamine is the pleasure and reward hormone. Science shows reward centers of brain most active in teenage years.
Q: Don’t you think many kids are overscheduled and actually need screen downtime?
In fact, 40 percent of kids in the U.S. don’t have access to after-school activities. So, no, I think one way to help your kids is to make sure they have plenty to do after school. Parents worry kids are over-scheduled, but actually these activities are good for kids. After-school programs are linked to better grades and better social skills. Recent studies found kids in low-income families are spending much more time online than more affluent kids.
Q: Is there real science around the danger of screen time?
New research out of Seattle Children’s Hospital shows the brains in young mice exposed to screens changed. The study found that young mice exposed to screens developed fewer nerve cells in the learning center of the brain. Study finds in MRI of the brain of heavy video gamers is similar to those addicted to drugs.
Q: How can I see “Screenagers?”
“Screenagers” will be shown through community groups, PTAs, schools, church groups and workplaces. Go to ScreenagersMovie.com to book a screening. Our first community group to book “Screenagers” sold out: 180 tickets in two days. That first screening of “Screenagers” premiered on January 25 in the San Francisco Bay area. Our website will have new screenings listed all the time. We are committed to helping moms and parents far beyond the film. The website will have new resources and discussions all the time.
Q: Can I see the “Screenagers” trailer?
Yes, to see the trailer click here. Or go to our Screenagers website. Get your school, your workplace, your church group, your synagogue to book a screening. Bring your kids to a screening – it gets them talking and caring more. Kids finally get key insights from the film, not just us moms and parents. They need to see it.