Notes from Screenager: The Movie
You can’t always make the student into a professor…..but…you just can’t take the student out of the professor!
I’m sitting in the 600-seat lecture center at the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) waiting for the Screenagers movie to begin. My laptop is on the desktop; my iPhone in hand and I’m viewing the movie on a digital screen. I obviously need to pay attention to this presentation.
From my preliminary research I know that this movie was made by a pediatrician who was struggling with her own children and how they used digital technology. Dr. Valeria Kattouf (Chief of Pediatrics and Binocular Vision) introduced Screenagers to an audience consisting of hundreds of students, staff and faculty at ICO. An after-movie panel discussion with a teacher, teen, mom and other appropriate individuals would follow the movie presentation. Dr. Kattouf noted that this was not about anyone in the room, but it is about the patients we serve and how we can guide our patients and their families when using digital tools.
The movie begins with engaging music along with images of teens using their phones, iPads, tablets and computers.
As I watched the movie I learned that:
Teens spend 6.5 hrs on screens and that this does not include their use of computers for school and homework.
Dopamine (a pleasure enhancing neurotransmitter) is released when using digital media
In 2015 65% of kids had smart phones (probably more than that today)
If you’re in a classroom and someone next to you has a cell phone just sitting on their desk, your performance decreases
Cell phone use in school can be academically useful
Kids with self-control do better in school. Self-control can be taught. You may want to develop an iPhone Contract with your child.
The digital world is good for maintenance of relationships but not for building initial relationships.
Videogames can also be time consuming. (One child during the movie noted 12+ hrs/day).
Boys play an average of 11.3 hrs/wk. 40% of 9 y/o have played Grand Theft Auto a very violent game.
Research supports evidence of the adverse effects upon children when playing these video games.
Many after school programs have been cut (sports, music, art, etc.) so these activities are no longer alternatives to screen time.
Self-image and social media
Selfies on social media affect how girls look at themselves. They seek LIKES especially about their appearance.
How they look is more important than who you are.
How you view yourself affects your cognitive abilities.
Girls can be urged to start sexting.
Digital bullying can deeply affect our children as much as physical bullying.
It is important to discuss how to be a good, caring and compassionate digital citizen
Multitasking is NOT good
Multitasking makes your performance worse and worse
….but you think you are doing better and better.
Overstimulation tires the brain and you do not function as well.
Games are addicting
Social media is addicting.
Television is addicting
These are all real addictions because dopamine pumps up the pleasure centers in your brain … especially when you are a teen. You become addicted.
Rehabilitation for this addiction available.
Restart Internet Rehab Center, Washington State.
Parents can be “hooked too”
Other problems and solutions
The blue light emitted from these screens disrupts sleep
Take the phone and computer out of the bedroom at least an hour before bedtime
How do you convince anyone to do what you would like them to do?
Explain to teens why you want them to do or not to do things. If they have reasons to change their behavior, they are more likely to do what you would like them to do.
After the movie, there was a panel discussion with a Parent, Teacher, Counselor, College Student and High School student. Each briefly talked about their tech/social media experiences.
One of the comments I had as a baby boomer was that my generation was the first to have a television in almost every home. At that time all the predictions about how TV would make us violent, stupid and amoral were very similar to the concerns expressed today for the current generation.
Although you may disagree with this statement, overall the boomers turned out quite well….so is all of this just 21st Century hype?
Probably not. The new media is faster paced, relentless, instantaneous and always available….not like TV in the 1950’s. In the 50’s you had to get up, walk to the television and change the channel or turn it off. Today all you do is pick up your phone (which is always close by) because it literally calls to you every second.
Overall this movie was excellent and a must see for children, teens, adults and even grandparents.
There was one major omission however.
While Screenagers discussed digital media use induced behavioral changes, brain mal-development and addiction, it did not mention the eye and vision problems associated with the use of these digital devices.
I will discuss this in a future blog….as well as how doctors should handle digital technology and patient interaction.