about screenagerS Under The Influence

Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston as she picks up her camera once more to examine the impact of our digital age on teens' decision-making in relation to substances such as vaping, drugs, and alcohol.

Exploring the latest research and learning more about the personal experiences of teens and families, the film highlights the changing landscape of the substances themselves, offering solutions for how we can best empower teens as they face decisions about what they will and will not be influenced by.

Runtimes: Original Version: 70 Minutes, Classroom Version: 50 Minutes.


Screenagers Under The Influence: Addressing Vaping, Drugs, and Alcohol in the Digital Age, the third feature documentary in the Screenagers trilogy, delves into how the tech revolution has reshaped adolescence and its effects on substance use. The film debunks myths and depicts strategies parents and schools can use to encourage healthy decision-making, support teen mental health, set limits, and create healthy home environments. The film also includes many ways young people are using their wisdom and strength to help each other and themselves through this complicated terrain around substance use.

While most documentaries about substance use focus on severe addiction, Screenagers Under The Influence fills a pressing need for a film that explores more common scenarios. The film is grounded in teens’ current reality of being flooded by images on social media, movies, and TV shows about vaping, drugs, and alcohol.

Like the first two Screenagers films, Screenagers Under The Influence interweaves cutting-edge science with personal stories to create an informative and entertaining film experience for young people and adults alike. Screenagers Under The Influence focuses on practical solutions for keeping our teens safe in a changing world.

film team

Co-Director / Co-Producer

Delaney Ruston chose her two career paths of primary care physician and documentary filmmaker for one reason: to help create positive change in people’s lives. Her experiences receiving medical care in free clinics while growing up motivated her to pursue health care. During her medicine residency, she began studying filmmaking for social impact and made her first award-winning film.

For twenty years Delaney has split her time between providing primary care and creating short and feature-length documentaries, such as "Screenagers", "Screenagers Next Chapter", and "Screenagers Under The Influence". Examples of her other films include "Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia" about her father and "Hidden Pictures" about global mental health. These films have been screened widely, aired on PBS, and were at the forefront of advocacy campaigns, including with the World Health Organization. For her work in using films to building movements, Delaney has won several awards including Harvard’s McLean National Council Recognition Award and New York’s Fountain House Advocacy Award.

Delaney trained at Stanford Medical School, followed by a medicine residency at UC San Francisco. She has practiced and taught medicine in diverse settings including faculty positions at The University of Washington School of Medicine and at The Center for Medical Humanities, Bioethics and Compassionate Care at Stony Brook School of Medicine, NY.

Ruston has conducted investigative research in diverse fields—including biophysics at NIH, bioethics, and communication at UCSF and behavioral health as a Fulbright Scholar. She has spent the past six years intensely researching the impact of screen time on youth and solutions for screen time balance.

Lisa Tabb

Co-Director / Co-Producer

Lisa Tabb is a distinguished producer with a rich background in digital media and parenting. She co-produced the "Screenagers Movie Trilogy" and co-directed "Screenagers Under The Influence: Addressing Vaping, Drugs, and Alcohol." She also co-produces "The Screenagers Podcast" and edits the “Screenagers’ Tech Talk Tuesday" weekly blog since 2016. Tabb has made significant contributions to the global discourse on youth screen time, with the Screenagers films reaching over 10 million individuals across 90 countries. Her publishing achievements include "Parenting in the Digital Age: A Guide to Calm Conversation." Before her foray into film, she spent 15 years at ABC 7 News in San Francisco, focusing on parenting trends and emerging technologies, and began her career in magazine publishing, notably creating "EcoTraveler." She also co-authored "Beyond Vegas," chronicling her unique experience of marrying her husband in 10 different countries.


Jennifer Steinman Sternin helped edit Screenagers Under The Influence. Her editing work includes the TribecaX Award-winning "Dear Santa" and Disney+'s "Pick of the Litter: The Series." As a director and producer, she's recognized for the Award-winning "Motherland" and the Emmy Award®-winning "Time for Ilhan." Jennifer's directorial expertise is further highlighted in "Hi, I'm Nancy Rubin," exemplifying her talent for crafting engaging and meaningful narratives in the film industry.

Sound Design

Dan Olmsted studied Cinema production at SF State University, and served for 15 years on the staff at the Saul Zaentz Film Center as a recordist and sound mixer.  He now works on a variety of locally-produced short films and features at his studio, IMRSV Sound in Berkeley.  He also plays guitar in a local alt/country band, Loretta Lynch, and teaches cinema classes at several local schools including City College of San Francisco. and California College of the Arts.

experts in the film


Chief of Stanford Addiction Medicine. Author, Dopamine Nation


Prof. of Neuroscience, Chief of Hurd Lab, Mount Sinai


Psychologist. Author, Under Pressure


Pediatrician, University of Washington


Adolescent and family Psychologist. Author, Getting To Calm


Dir. UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research


Adolescent Psychologist, University of Washington


Dir. National Institute on Drug Abuse


Dir. Adolescent Substance Use & Addiction Program. Prof. of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School


Prof. of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School


Boys Varsity Soccer Coach, Archie Williams High School


Sewall Professor & Principal Investigator, Stanford Research Into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising (SRITA)


Prof. of Psychology, Loyola Marymount University


Author, Queen Bees and Wannabes.


Prof. of Psychology, George Mason University


Psychology Researcher, University of Texas at Austin


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“The timing of this movie could not be better or more urgent as we are facing a national youth mental health crisis"

Kelsey Fernandez, Prevention Coalition

Screenagers Under The Influence provides a concise but comprehensive and engaging film about the impact of alcohol, marijuana, vaping, and substances on adolescent health, (with) up-to-date information that is accurate and from authoritative sources.

Ellen Moorhouse - Executive Director, Student Assistance Services Corporation

The film really shakes up long-held beliefs about what is normal, acceptable, and safe.

Lili Schliesser, Clayton Schools

Wow! I just finished watching Under the Influence. The final line had me in tears - "we are here for them, not to shame them but to help them figure out their best and safest road forward.

Jill Smith, Resource Coordinator, Academy of World Languages, Ohio

"I loved the movie. I thought it was great! The topics covered were appropriate to what we are seeing."

Anthony Ferrandino, Social Worker - Northport School District

Very powerful. Amazing work and amazing messaging.

Elizabeth McGlynn, Executive Director - Girls on the Run of Montgomery County