Unplugging for 1 day... why it can be a good

Tech Talk Tuesday #54: Will you join The National Day of Unplugging?

The 24 hours from  sundown March 3rd until sundown March 4th, 2017 is The National Day of Unplugging. This day is designed to help people of all ages to embrace the ancient ritual of a day of rest and we are so excited that Screenagers is a co-sponsor! 

The goal of this important 24 hours is to open our eyes to how tech is so immersed in our lives. For some of us our device is like a third hand.  Starting with just this one day, we encourage you to step back get a new perspective on your tech time, by not having tech time. 

Recently, a mom emailed me after she and her daughter watched Screenagers. She wrote "My 17-year-old daughter says she was interested in how technology causes one's brain to behave in ways that we can't control.” Getting more kids to ponder these question is key. Do this day with your whole family—invite grandparents, aunts and uncles, whole classrooms, entire schools and your religious organization to join. 

I had my 15-year old daughter Tessa write a bit of this TTT and this is what she wrote: 

"Who knows who you might meet if you look up during a train ride or the conversation you might have in the car with your kids while you drive them around. Read the book on your bedside table that you have been meaning to finish, try to fall asleep early and catch up on sleep. Look in a cookbook that you used to love and get inspired to cook a meal."

For Tech Talk Tuesday this week let's talk about unplugging together on March 3rd. To 4th.  Here are some questions to get the conversation started:

  • Will you commit to unplug for 1 day? Sign up for to be part of NDU 2017.
  • What do you think you will miss in that one day?
  • Let's try to calculate how much time we spend in a day on our screens so we know how much time we will have saved on that one day of unplugging.

4 Key rules for reducing screen time

4 Key rules for reducing screen time

My obsession with helping families parent around screen time is emotion-laden (this is about our kids so of course, it’s emotional) but also data-driven. Before I went to medical school, I was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health. After my medical training I did more research in communications and ethics. I love good data. We need good data. That said, we recently conducted a small survey of people from our Screenagers email list and I will be the first to say this is a biased sample. Respondents were not chosen at random but were found through their interest in Screenagers. But, the good thing is we can still glean insights from this data about family rules.  

Read More

Have you or your teen ever been "ghosted?"

Have you or your teen ever been "ghosted?"
"The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. ... Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject's maturity and communication skills. .."

This happens with both teens and adults, I first heard of this practice when an adult friend told me about another friend who had simply stopped responding to emails, texts and phone calls. According to a Huffington post poll about 10 percent of Americans have "ghosted" someone to break up with them. Using avoidance as a coping skill is not new, but online communication has made that an easier way to deal with uncomfortable situations.

Read More

Mental health issues on social media, who is talking?

Mental health issues on social media, who is talking?

The other day I was on a plane sitting next to a YouTube employee and we discussed that we both noticed that teens and young adults are posting more often about mental health issues. The woman told me that many famous YouTubers are talking about their own mental health challenges. For instance, YouTuber Lacie Green, talked about her own depression in this courageous video. The site The Mighty is also great resource.

Read More

What is the right age to give your kids their own device?

What is the right age to give your kids their own device?

Yesterday I was talking to a mom in San Francisco who saw Screenagers this fall and she told me that she was dissapointed that I gave Tessa a phone in the end. She had seen my struggle with the issue through the movie but was really hoping I wouldn't cave. This mom has a 14-year old and has been very resolute about not giving her daughter a phone. Her daughter takes the public bus around the city and walks all over town by herself but she doesn't have a phone. She asked me, "Why not just say 'no'?" 

Read More

Why is Tech Talk Tuesday important?

Why is Tech Talk Tuesday important?

Screenagers came to life for two main reasons. The first: experience and science have shown us that excessive screen time can affect kids negatively. The second: the fact that there is now such an extreme pull of screens on kids, parents need support to thoughtfully help their children to have time off screens. 

Given this is the biggest parenting issue of our time, we knew that a movie is a great start but that a real movement is needed and thus we created Tech Talk Tuesday (TTT).  WE WOULD LOVE YOUR HELP TO HAVE IT SPREAD AND HELP MORE FAMILIES. You can post it on Facebook, Twitter or email it to someone.

Read More

SMART Tips for Real Life Change

SMART Tips for Real Life Change

With 2017 on the horizon, the last few days of 2016 are resolution season. Are you considering making some positive life changes? Great, me too. But how can we make the changes stick…for real this time?In my twenty years as a physician I have witnessed and experienced how hard it is to actually make a behavior change, no matter how compelling the reason. Even in the face of chronic obstructive lung disease, patients with years of tobacco use try to to quit and don’t always succeed. A person with diabetes can find it so hard to control eating habits, even though it’s a life and death matter.

Read More

Family gatherings: Face-to-face or face-to-screen?

Family gatherings: Face-to-face or face-to-screen?

How comfortable are your kids talking to extended family and adult friends? One concern I often hear from parents is that they think screen time decreases face-to-face communication skills. I have not found any exceptional data around this issue. Families and friends will be together for the holidays and in these settings many kids and adults will gravitate towards their personal devices. When situations are uncomfortable or activity is slowed down this is accepted behavior these days. It upsets me when I see kids disappear into their screens when those special multigenerational opportunities for conversation are right in front of them.

Read More

Do you know how much time parents spend playing video games?

Do you know how much time parents spend playing video games?

How much time do you, the adult, spend on screens?  This week Common Sense Media (CSM) released the results of a survey of 1800 parents that found that parents spend 7.5 hours a day of non-work time on screens, and 1.5 hours a day of work related screen time.  (Of note, if a respondent reported doing two screen things at once, such as watching TV while texting, the study counted that as two hours). Seven and a half hours is a lot, but if you include all the time parents are watching TV shows, *playing video games, doing social media, or on their phones while eating breakfast, while walking down the street, sitting on subways ... you can see how this adds up. 

Read More

Who knows the family screen time rules?

Who knows the family screen time rules?

When my daughter Tessa, who is in Screenagers, saw the completed film, I was shocked by one of her first reactions. She said, ”I didn't realize so many other kids are dealing with all this rule stuff like we are." Of course, she had been with me over the years as I was making the film, and yet somehow, she did not know how common it is for families to struggle with setting limits. She went on to tell me how rarely any of her friends talked about their rules around screen time. 

Read More

Is there a time and a place you unplug each day? Each week?

Is there a time and a place you unplug each day? Each week?

With Thanksgiving this week, it is a good time to think about the various practices of “unplugging." 

To help find times to unplug, a good starting point is to think more about when our kids are not on screens during each day, rather than when they are on screens. From there it's easier to set guidelines around unplugging. I’ve heard about many creative approaches to unplugging:

 

    Read More

    How can you use this election as a way to talk to your kids about bullying?

    How can you use this election as a way to talk to your kids about bullying?

    Candidates have used screens for good and for evil this election. They've used it to bully as well as to inspire.  Talking to your kids about this issue is a great way to open up the conversation about how they define bullying. Talk your teens today about how they, and you, used social media, polling data and other ways to get engaged and informed about the election this year.
     

    Read More

    Sleep: Is this one time you can separate from your phone?

    Sleep: Is this one time you can separate from your phone?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #39
    Does your teen sleep next to his/her phone?

    A new meta analysis published in Jama Pediatrics confirmed how portable devices like cellphones and tablets are seriously affecting our children's sleep.  Sleep is one of the biggest pediatric public health issues of our time. I hear this firsthand when I ask groups in the post screening discussions "who sleeps with their cellphones their room?" Most hands in the room go up.

    Read More

    Pediatricians have new screen time guidelines... what are yours?

    Pediatricians have new screen time guidelines... what are yours?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #38
    What are your rules when it comes to your kid's screen use?

    This week the American Academy of Pediatrics released new recommendations on screen time.  

    They now recommend that children younger than 18 months “avoid digital media use (except video-chatting),” but kids 18 months and older can use digital media. They also say that children 2 to 5 years should limit their time to one hour a day and for youth 5 years and older they now don't really have a recommended cap on screen time.

     

    Read More

    How many "Snapstreaks" does your teen have going?

    How many "Snapstreaks" does your teen have going?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #35
    Does your teen have any "Snapstreaks" currently?

    Do you know what Streaks are?  Snapchat has something they call Snapstreaks that count the consecutive days you send a Snap to the same person. My daughter has some Snapstreaks that are more than 200 days long. To keep a "streak" going both people must send a Snap back-and-forth within 24 hours.

    Read More