The Screenagers Blog

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Screenagers Blog Tech Talk Tuesdays

“Having calm, consistent conversations has greatly improved screen balance in my home and I have written hundreds of articles to help others through my weekly Tech Talk Tuesdays newsletter and blog.”— Delaney Ruston, MD Physician/Filmmaker"

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tech talk tuesdays
February 20, 2024
Social and Interpersonal Development

45% Of Girls Stop Playing Sport By Age 14 Due To Low Body Confidence - What Can We Do?

Did you know that 45% of girls stop playing sports by age 14 due to low body confidence? That is a shocking and devastating statistic. Dove's Super Bowl ad, in partnership with Nike highlighted this, presenting a critical conversation starter about the intersection of self-esteem, body image, and performance in societal contexts. This 30-second spot was shown to an audience of 123.4 million, as part of Dove’s “The Self-Esteem Project” In a world where what girls see on social media, influencers on YouTube on their favorite shows, and in advertising powerfully shape perceptions and behaviors, this was an important moment. Read more and see the ad in today’s blog.

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February 13, 2024
Social and Interpersonal Development

Emojis: The Universal Language of Texting! What's Yours?

For me, Valentine’s Day (which is, by the way, one of my top holidays) is about communicating our love and appreciation for people we care about — not just those we may be romantically involved with. Emojis are all about communicating and we all have different emoji-use styles — from complete nonuse to the most curated and abundant use. What are you? What is your child? And why is it even worth asking?

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tech talk tuesdays
February 6, 2024
Parenting Resources

How to Address The Hardest Screen Time Parenting Dilemmas

I just released a new Screenagers’ Podcast episode featuring a lively and productive interview with Charlie Appelstein, a social worker and the author of “No Such Thing As A Bad Kid,” who has worked with youth and parents for over four decades. He is full of wisdom about helping youth with behavior management. Having seen his parenting workshops, I can personally attest to the remarkable insights and impactful strategies he shares. In the podcast, we address challenging scenarios, including how to determine appropriate consequences for lying and managing rude behavior from our children and teenagers, among many other topics. Read today’s blog for a sampling of some screen time dilemmas and strategies for addressing them that we tackle on the podcast

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tech talk tuesdays
January 30, 2024
Social Media

Meta's New Messaging Rules To Keep Our Kids Safer Online

While creating the Screenagers movies, I've been alarmed by the number of teens receiving inappropriate messages from strangers on social media. Thankfully, Meta has finally acted, barring 15-year-olds and younger from getting messages from unconnected individuals on Instagram. This long-awaited move is crucial for online safety. In today's blog, I discuss this change and offer essential parenting advice to help keep our youth safe on these apps.

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January 23, 2024
Social and Interpersonal Development

Decoding Adolescent Decision-Making On-Screens and Off

As a physician and the creator of the "Screenagers" movies, I've always been fascinated by the intricacies of adolescent decision-making. Through the Screenagers podcast, I've had the opportunity to delve deep into this topic, and in a podcast episode I just released yesterday, I share some of those insights with you. I invite you to listen to the Podcast, but if you prefer to read, click here for a summary of the podcast.

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tech talk tuesdays
January 16, 2024
Screenagers Under The Influence

A Great Tool for Talking About Substance Use with Teens

In today’s blog, I am sharing data about drug use and teens. The intersection of screen time and teens' attitudes and decisions around substance use is profound and given the bombarded of substance-promoting messages on the Web, we need to discuss these things with our youth.

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tech talk tuesdays
January 9, 2024
Away For The Day

Cell Phones in School: A Conversation Starter

Last week, USA Today ran an outstanding article titled: “Schools don’t want kids on cellphones. Is banning them the solution?” Our team launched Away For The Day in December 2017 to provide science and tools to help more schools create policies in which phones are not with students during the school day, and we are pleased the USA Today article mentions the campaign. The moment of change is truly here. Unlike anything we have seen in the past, the rate at which schools and full districts are adopting away-for-the-day policies is outstanding! Read today’s blog for some highlights from the USA Today article.

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tech talk tuesdays
January 2, 2024
Screen Time Reduction Skills

Unlock Healthier Screen Habits: My One Simple Rule for 2024

I have one goal with this week’s blog: Inspire you to make one and only one New Year’s Resolution about screen time rules. Maybe that has to do with your own behavior with screen time, maybe with your kids, family, or even work. And I’ll share with you my one-screen time rule for 2024.

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tech talk tuesdays
December 26, 2023
Reading

The Best of Screenagers in 2023!

I'm thrilled to share with you a special compilation of our most popular content from this year. Today, I want to take you on a curated journey through our top selections from the Tech Talk Tuesday blogs, YouTube Bites, and The Screenagers Podcast.

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December 19, 2023
Social and Interpersonal Development

Love is the Greatest Gift – Love-Gift Ideas

Recent conversations with several people about the complexities of gift-giving and relationships during the holidays have inspired today’s blog. Guided by my mantra, 'My main job is to learn to love the best I can and be loved the best I can,' I believe in the profound impact of heartfelt actions. Simple gestures like writing cherished memories or crafting personal notes can become profoundly touching gifts. Today, I dive into creative and meaningful ways to gift through expressions of love in a quest to deepen our connections with those we cherish.

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December 12, 2023
Media Recommendations

7 Documentaries to Enjoy With Your Family Over the Holiday Break

We put together a list of 7 compelling documentaries perfect for family viewing over the Holidays. The films will help spark meaningful conversations. Check trailers and ratings for appropriateness when selecting documentaries to enjoy with your kids.

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December 5, 2023
Media Recommendations

8 Podcast Recommendations for Winter Break

Whether you are headed off on vacation journeys or just spending time at home during the holidays, I have some mind-opening podcast suggestions to listen to with the whole family. It can be fun to listen to only parts of any of these suggestions to allow more time for talking and then finish them at the next drive or sitting.

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November 28, 2023
Creativity

2023 Screenagers Tech-Free Gift Guide

Our unique Tech-Free Gift Guide offers a refreshing escape from digital overload, presenting a handpicked selection of imaginative gifts. From culinary adventures and creative arts to educational magazines and physical activities, we emphasize experiences that foster family bonding, creativity, and healthy habits. The guide includes community-building ideas like mural painting and beekeeping, encouraging children and teens to engage in enriching, screen-free activities while creating lasting memories and developing new skills.

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November 21, 2023
Challenging Conversations

Navigating Thanksgiving: How Can Families Stay Connected Amid Differences?

With Thanksgiving week upon us, today’s blog is about the nuanced world of family gatherings, where warmth and tension often intermingle. Moving beyond the picture-perfect imagery of Hallmark cards, I have some strategies to cope with family dynamics that can escalate holiday stress. I also share 4 joy-enhancing activity ideas.

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November 14, 2023
Parenting Resources

Introducing Screenagers Bites on YouTube!

We recently launched the Screenagers YouTube Channel where we will be uploading a range of new content and resources each week, such as movie clips, podcasts and other original content. I wanted this week to introduce you to the first regular feature on the channel - Screenagers Bites!

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November 7, 2023
Drugs and Alcohol

3 Must Know Myths About Alcohol and Parenting

Today, I share a clip from Screenagers Under The Influence, in which three myths concerning parenting and alcohol are exposed. Often after screenings of the movie, parents come up to me and say how stunned they are to learn about the research.

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tech talk tuesdays
October 31, 2023
Media Literacy

The Mega Lawsuit Against Meta Explained for You and Kids

Last week, over three dozen states filed a lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. The lawsuit alleges that Meta deliberately designed features on Instagram and Facebook to have addictive qualities, particularly for young users, despite knowing the potentially harmful effects of their technology. We are at a critical point where the deceptive tactics Meta uses to keep users, especially youths, constantly engaged are getting exposed, and states are demanding accountability. Read the lowdown that is absolutely worth a chat with your children.

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October 24, 2023
Creativity

We Would LOVE One Or Two Ideas From You

My team and I have been bustling behind the scenes, thinking up new episodes for the Screenagers Podcast and new posts for my weekly Tech Talk Tuesday Blog. Your input at this time would be FANTASTIC! What topics do you want covered? Do your kids have ideas for topics?

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October 17, 2023
Challenging Conversations

Helping Your Kids Manage Media Consumption During War Time

Today, I am concentrating on 3 steps to help protect our kids from the downsides of social media and overall screen time, especially given the prevalence of violence, misinformation, and distressing content right now.

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tech talk tuesdays
October 10, 2023
Away For The Day

What High Schoolers Really Think About Phones in the Classroom: Survey Results Are In!

Did your kids participate in our anonymous online survey about cellphones in schools? I am thrilled to unveil some fascinating results of our study today. This study is truly unique — we know of no other study in which students have been asked their opinions about cellphone access in schools.

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October 3, 2023
Mental Health

"Why Am I Feeling This Way?” Teen Mental Health Misconceptions

A common misconception persists in teenage mental health: Mental health problems primarily come from something happening to a person, i.e., external experiences. But the reality is far more complex, and as a result, many teens find themselves grappling with an unnecessary burden. The truth is that mental health problems often come from inside, without any obvious triggers from external factors. It’s genetics at work causing different biological changes, leading to emotions and thoughts creating havoc in their young selves. In my blog post today, I shed light on an often-overlooked aspect of mental health among adolescents.

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September 26, 2023
Anxiety

Navigate Notification Overload: Ways parents can help kids

In the New York Times this last week, there was an article about social media and teens. The article's brilliant graphic captured our young people's digital and emotional reality. The image is all the notifications on their phones, laptops, tablets, etc. like texts from “mom” reminding them to be safe, a new grade posted, a Snapchat arrival, a missed Facetime, a troubling news headline, etc. Stress flies at them in so many ways. Today, I suggest a way to have a notification intervention.

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tech talk tuesdays
September 18, 2023
Artificial Intelligence

What Do AI, Substance Use, and Video Gaming Have in Common?

What do AI, substance use, and video gaming have in common? They all can tempt people, including youth, to engage in sneaky behaviors, including youth. Kids can feel tempted to do shortcuts, workarounds, or cheat for various reasons. Perhaps they hate a subject in school and want to get the homework done but don’t actually want to do it. Maybe reading is painfully difficult for them due to something like dyslexia, so they want to find a way to avoid having to do it. Perhaps a teen knows that their family has a rule that does not allow them to play a specific video game because of its intense violent graphics and misogyny. Yet that is the game many friends are playing and want to join in. Maybe an 8th-grade boy is with a group of friends at lunch, and someone pulls out a vape pen and starts passing it around. Do they partake in this sneaky and illegal behavior? Today, I explore the temptations and three things to say to kids and teens that can help strengthen their wise-minded brains and add a little more weight to the healthier decision-making side of the scale.

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September 12, 2023
Parenting Resources

3 Reasons to Apologize to Your Child or Teen Today

When was the last time you can recall apologizing to your child or teen? Apologizing to kids can have multiple positive effects. And, if you are not in the habit of doing this much, today is a great day to consider offering one out of the blue. Today, I review a few reasons why apologies are such a powerful part of parenting, a key part of nurturing a stronger relationship and teaching communication skills. I also share an apology I gave my daughter not that long ago.

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September 5, 2023
Vaping

Youth Under Siege: The Social Media Push of Vaping and the Fight to Resist

A few weeks back, a teen told me to listen to Emma Chamberlain’s (a mega young influencer) podcast episode, Nicotine Addiction. In the episode, Chamberlain reveals that she has been vaping for several years and has finally decided to try to quit. I appreciated that Emma spoke about how she purposely never revealed her vaping habit to her audience until then because she never wanted to influence anyone to start vaping. I applaud her for that. Sadly, many other influencers did not make similar choices when they decided to be paid by Juul Labs, Inc. to influence millions of young people to start vaping. Today, I share some of the dirty tactics used by the nicotine industry and then, most importantly, discuss things we, and our youth, can do to make a difference.

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tech talk tuesdays
August 29, 2023
Screen Time Rules

Finally, Screen Time rules That Actually Work For Your Family

Today I share my top 3 main screen time categories and offer many options of rules that can be tailored to your specific family. Let’s be real that policies for a 10-year-old will be different for a 17-year-old. Then there are factors such as kid’s maturity levels, outside activities, sibling dynamics, bandwidth of parents/guardians, and the list goes on. For this reason, having many ideas can be helpful. Let’s get started.

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tech talk tuesdays
August 22, 2023
Screen Time Rules

My 3 steps for successfully creating healthier tech policies at home

It’s back-to-school time and an ideal time to readdress screen time at home. Ahhhhh, so not easy! When we approach emotionally triggering topics with our kids, having a road map, including specific things to say, can be extremely helpful. I know all too well that without those things, my reactive brain can take over, and everything can go sideways. Eleven years now into studying the intersection of biology, psychology, communication science, and parenting screen time, I offer my top 3 steps for creating new or cementing existing tech time policies as back-to-school kicks off.

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tech talk tuesdays
August 15, 2023
Away For The Day

The top 2 questions to ask your child about back to school

One thing that is key in our work together is ensuring we include the voices of young people — something that, of course, is present in the Screenagers film trilogy. Their input is crucial, and that is why I have 2 important questions for us to ask them as they transition back to school. As you know, I am particularly focused on improving our kids' mental health, especially in the aftermath of COVID. One major lever is decreasing personal devices in schools. Below are the two top questions

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August 8, 2023
Social and Interpersonal Development

A Crash Course On Jealousy In Cyberland

There are more opportunities than ever before — via screens — that can cause micro and macro moments of jealousy in our lives. (I will use the words “jealousy” and "envy" interchangeably even though I have meaty discussions about the nuanced differences). For example, these days, a teen may learn that the loner 9th-grade boy down the block is actually a TikTok star getting loads of attention and brand deals. Gone are the days when one had to be a Scott Baio to get all that attention. Today a teen might see, via Snap Maps, that the “it” girl from last year at school is spending loads of time with the boy she likes. Gone are the days when seeing such a thing meant you were in the same location. Or, a teen might see via a Snapchat story that the “cool crowd” were out at the park drinking alcohol. The teen might not be into drinking, but just seeing all the photos of the night can forge jealous feelings. Jealousy is a big, broad, and bullish topic worthy of discussing today.

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tech talk tuesdays
August 1, 2023
Away For The Day

Moms, Dads, And School Leaders Create Phone-Free Policies In Schools

Educators and parents unite worldwide to create new policies keeping cellphones away for the entire school day. Research consistently shows the benefits of phone-free classrooms, as students admit their devices hinder concentration and studying. The empowering "Away For The Day" campaign, launched in 2017, has enabled parents and educators to effectively bring these policies to schools. Discover how countries like the Netherlands, Finland, and France are embracing the initiative, along with similar efforts in Australia and England.

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tech talk tuesdays
July 25, 2023
Screenagers Under The Influence

'Shrooms' In The Media and A Must-Have Conversation

In the news, podcasts, social media, and shows, there is a lot of talk about magic mushrooms, aka “shrooms,” and their potential benefits through their psychoactive component called psilocybin. For example, people talk about how consuming mushrooms can create life-changing experiences in full or microdoses. In addition, there is a lot of buzz about the important research being done to uncover potential medical applications. However, what concerns me is that all these media outlets often fail to address the risks of psychedelics and ways to prevent such risks. I’ve written this blog to offer an effective way to talk to teens about these risks, knowing that such conversations can be tricky.

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July 18, 2023
Screenagers Under The Influence

Brain Changes Among Teen Weed Users

The moment we talk about drugs and the brain, it is common for teens to say to themselves, “There goes those adults saying we are frying our brains by just smoking some weed.” For my latest film, I was thrilled to find neuroscientist Dr. Yasmin Hurd and her cutting-edge research to explain in a calm, direct, convincing way without resorting to scare tactics. Watch with your kids a captivating 3-minute clip from the film where Dr. Hurd explains the most current research on brain development and the effects of exposure to the chemical THC, the psychoactive component of weed.

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tech talk tuesdays
July 11, 2023
Screen Time Rules

When Screen Time Rules Are Broken (blogcast)

Today, I'm writing (and podcasting) about skillful ways to respond when tech rules get broken by our kids, which is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting. It's important to acknowledge that when I mention rules related to screen time, I’m referring to rules developed through family efforts and input from kids whenever possible. I will give some specific examples of what a parent might say in an effort to validate when kids are indeed following a rule.

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tech talk tuesdays
July 5, 2023
Media Recommendations

Summer Catch-Up: 10 Top Blog Posts From This Year

With summer in full swing, it's the perfect opportunity to catch up on any of my Screenagers’ Tech Talk Tuesdays you may have missed (I know today is Wednesday, not Tuesday, but I wanted to respect the holiday). During the school year, there are scores of obligations to attend to. Hopefully, things have slowed a bit, and you can grab a glass of iced tea and read from this curated list of my most-read blog posts from the last 12 months.

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June 27, 2023
Mental Health

Love Ambush: How to be a mental health warrior

Discover the powerful strategy of a "love ambush" in the quest to become a mental health warrior. Delaney unveils the transformative impact of showing up unannounced to support those facing mental health challenges. Through personal stories and practical advice, she shows listeners (and readers) an approach to combatting isolation and building a caring team for teens who are struggling.

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June 20, 2023
Healthy Romantic Partnerships

Teen Love, Hookups, And How To Talk About It All

Summer is heating up, and today I'm exploring how we can help teens have a better understanding of what makes up positive romantic relationships, including physical intimacy. In a past survey, teens between the ages of 14 and 17 were asked what sources help them understand sex. They responded that helpful information was most likely to come from parents, 31%, and 22 % from friends. We're a great resource if we want to take on this challenge and get better at it.

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June 13, 2023
Media Recommendations

7 Podcasts I Recommend for The Whole Family This Summer

In today’s blogcast, I share recommendations for podcasts that you can listen to with your family this summer. So why these recommendations? Well, one of the objectives of the screenagers movement is finding ways to connect youth and adults for meaningful conversations, not just about tech in our lives, but ways to help build in our kids' critical thinking, empathy, communication skills, and I’m just a strong believer that listening to podcasts together and then discussing them can be a really terrific way to do that. It's also a way to celebrate one of the pearls of our tech revolution: the ability of people to become podcasters and to share science, stories, advice, and more. Read today’s blog for a list of podcasts I recommend.

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tech talk tuesdays
June 6, 2023
Screen Time Rules

Summer Reset — Online and Offline

This summer I'm recording podcasts based on my Screenagers' Tech Talk Tuesday blogs. I'm calling these BLOGCASTS.‍ Today I'm talking about a summer reset, both in terms of screen time policies in our homes and ideas for things to do off screens.

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tech talk tuesdays
May 30, 2023
Mental Health

Teen Transgressions: Shame Vs. Guilt

Shame and guilt are two challenging emotions. Over the years, I have found a beneficial way to talk about these emotions for certain young patients who are struggling. Today I share a story from my clinic.

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tech talk tuesdays
May 23, 2023
Mental Health

Surgeon General Issues New Advisory About Effects Social Media Use Has on Youth Mental Health

Today, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a new Advisory on social media and youth mental health. Read today's blog for why we must act NOW.

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tech talk tuesdays
May 16, 2023
Mental Health

When you were a teen, what job made you feel good?

I have been thinking about ways jobs can help us feel better about ourselves. When my family and I hang out with other families, I often ask the adults what jobs they had when they were teens. I also ask the kids if they have had jobs. As our kids consider working this summer, now is the time to talk about the upsides of these experiences, including the mental health upsides! Read today’s blog for ideas on how to start the conversation. AND see a clip from our new movie.

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May 9, 2023
Mental Health

How To Prevent Loneliness In Our Homes

The U.S. Surgeon General announces a national framework to rebuild social connection and community in America. In his announcement, he said, “ …we have to renegotiate our relationship with technology, creating space in our lives without our devices so we can be more present with one another.” Today I share how I helped one dad navigate loneliness and isolation happening in his home with his teen.

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May 2, 2023
Mental Health

Optimizing Our Pain, Why This Is The Answer

Since I was a teen, I have been uncommonly drawn to wanting to understand the emotional pain points of being human. In all sorts of casual situations, I gently direct conversations away from chit-chat into discussions about the hard things happening in our lives. In most of my conversations with my friends, I share at least one struggle happening in my life. I do this in hopes that I and others will find ways to maneuver through the pain and find paths to get through it in positive ways. I call this “Optimizing Pain.” Learn more in today’s Tech Talk Tuesday.

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tech talk tuesdays
April 24, 2023
Screen Time Rules

Annoying Tech Things We Do To Each Other

When I saw this sticker in a bookstore, it made me laugh. I asked myself, “Is this what it has all come to?” Fortunately, I know that it is being tongue-in-cheek. Then I remembered that people can get unexpectedly irritated when texting, and someone chimes in — like my husband. Fact: humans can become highly irritated by what seems like minor things for some inexplicable reason. Our wired world provides many such situations. I would wager a hefty sum of money that everyone reading this experiences levels of annoyance by things people do tech-wise that feel out of proportion to the actual act. Today I offer several personal examples from my family and others and four ways to address these dilemmas.

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April 18, 2023
Screenagers Under The Influence

A “Weed Talk” Made Easy

Today, I’m writing about cannabis — or, as teens mainly refer to it, weed. Weed is by far the most common term. “Pot” is rarely used by younger people. I have worked hard in my clinic to refrain from using that word. I also do not use the term marijuana, although that term often gets used in research papers. In today’s blog, I write about four important topics and questions to discuss with youth in your life.

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April 11, 2023
Drugs and Alcohol

Parenting Around Alcohol: A Funny Story That Happened To Me

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and I propose we use it as a time not to be overly fixated on the topic but to use it as a time to have one or two calm conversations. In today’s blog, I guide you through some topics and ideas to bring up with your kids about what they see in shows, movies, music videos, and social media and how it might influence their decisions.

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April 4, 2023
Screenagers Under The Influence

Screen Time, Fentanyl, And How to Talk With Kids

In Screenagers Under The Influence, we examine the scary reality that people use apps, such as Discord and Snapchat, to reach young people in the hopes of selling them drugs. They might advertise they are selling Oxycodone, Ativan, or some other substance. The buyer has no idea that many of these are not what the sellers claim but instead are fake/counterfeit pills and that part of what they have in them is fentanyl.

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tech talk tuesdays
March 28, 2023
Vaping

3 Things To Know About Social Media And Vaping

We all would love for our kids not to smoke now or in the future. The reality is that some high school students, middle school students, and even some younger kids vape using e-cigarettes. As a physician, I can tell you that many of my teen patients have said they indeed use e-cigarettes, and their parents are unaware of this. Ellie, from the Screenagers Under The Influence film, indeed did not let her parents know she had been vaping for quite a long time. A survey of parents released last week provides some interesting data about parents’ beliefs when it comes to their children and vaping. Read on for a few of the findings.

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March 21, 2023
Parenting Resources

Why Parents’ #1 Discipline Action Is Often Unwise

In our new film, Screenagers Under the Influence: Addressing Vaping, Drugs, and Alcohol in the Digital Age, adolescent psychologist Laura Kastner discusses the importance of natural and logical consequences. Natural consequences directly respond to a person's actions or inactions, while logical consequences have some connection to the behavior being addressed. Read in today’s blog more about how this type of punishment can backfire.

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March 14, 2023
Screenagers Under The Influence

Why Our New Film Has My Heart Jumping

Our new film, Screenagers Under The Influence: Addressing Vaping, Drugs, and Alcohol in the Digital Age, features five inspiring stories that are raw, relatable, and full of hope. We hear from families, youth, experts, and scientists, and the richness of their experiences will spark productive conversations wherever the film is shown.

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March 7, 2023
Screenagers Under The Influence

NEW MOVIE: Screenagers Under The Influence

I’m thrilled to be sharing news with you about our new movie coming out at the end of this month, Screenagers Under The Influence: Vaping, Drugs, and Alcohol in the Digital Age. And, to share a sneak peek of part of the actual film!

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February 28, 2023
Screen Time Reduction Skills

Update: Parents Share Tactics For Reducing Their Screen Time

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog and encouraged people to share with youth in their lives whatever small change they made and to share with me as well so that I could share with you! And that is what I am doing today. I received some great responses. Here are a few examples people shared with me:

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tech talk tuesdays
February 21, 2023
Screen Time Rules

Modeling better family communication around tech

Today’s blog is about improving communication and understanding of what people are doing on their devices, and it is also about modeling having more mindfulness of what one is doing. I offer a model of how to break down screen time and how it can be helpful to model saying to family members which of these three things you are doing on your devices: Tool, Talk, and Treat.

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February 14, 2023
Media Recommendations

Our New Movie Coming Soon

This week I’m pouring all my creative energy into finishing our new film. Much more to come very soon, but this one is called "Screenagers Under The Influence" and is all about vaping, drugs, and alcohol in the digital age. If you are interested in learning more about how to host it this spring or fall, you can fill out a quick form on the blog page, and we’ll reach out shortly. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out "The Screenagers Podcast," where I explore strategies for raising screen-wise and tech-balanced youth.

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February 7, 2023
Creativity

4 Food Moves To Do With Your Kids

Cooking creates self-confidence, self-efficacy and is a great offline activity. Today, I have some food moves to help inspire your child to up their cooking game — whether they are naysayers or Chez Panisse wannabes, I think they’ll like these.

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January 24, 2023
Screen Time Reduction Skills

Have Your Phone When You Open This

I bet there is one thing (at least) about your phone that you have been meaning to do, and yet you have not taken the time to do it. Yes? I just got another alert from the social media app, BeReal. I downloaded it with my kids a while back to learn about it. I don’t use it. Instead, I have been repeatedly irked whenever it pings me (it does that even with notifications turned off). I keep saying to myself, "Oh, yes, I have to delete that.” And then I never do. SO RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT, I am inviting you to do one tiny thing (yep, right now) …

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tech talk tuesdays
January 17, 2023
Screen Time Rules

5 ways to respond when tech rules get broken

One of THE most challenging things as a parent is knowing how to respond when our kids break rules around screen time. Today I write about what to do when transgressions happen, consulting about the WISE before taking action and why consequences should be short..

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January 10, 2023
Screen Time Rules

New Year, New Tech Habits: 11 Tips for Setting Screen Time Rules with Your Kids

Having policies/ rules around tech is valuable and worth the work. But I am the last to claim that this is easy. You may know my personal story from Screenagers, where you saw me learning the hard way how critical it is that we find ways to involve our kids in defining screen-tome rules with us — vs. my initial, more top-down techniques. In today’s blog, I give 11 rules/policies to consider for the New Year. And I also include a couple of recent studies you may want to share with your kids.

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January 3, 2023
Screen Time Rules

How Can Unspoken Screen Rules Help in the New Year?

As the New Year begins, it's natural to think about resolutions and ways to improve our habits and routines. But instead of focusing on revamping screen time rules, I've been thinking about the moments when my family and I turned off, or turned over, our devices and were more present with each other. One of my resolutions was to share these memories with my family. My hope is that it will foster not only a feeling of gratitude but also create a "family piggy bank" of positive experiences to draw upon when tech troubles inevitably arise.

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December 26, 2022
Media Recommendations

My Family Podcast Recommendations

On a recent 3-day trip to Vancouver, BC, with my family, I compiled a list of podcasts that I wanted my kids to listen to and asked for their input as well. On a recent 3-day trip to Vancouver, BC, with my family, I compiled a list of podcasts that I wanted my kids to listen to and asked for their input as well. In today’s blog I give you several podcast episode recommendations from me and my family.

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December 20, 2022
Creativity

Do This One Thing For Immediate Closeness Over The Holidays

Plain and simple, there is one thing I recommend doing during the holidays for love and laughter. Bring out old photo albums and put them in a high-trafficked spot in your home — be it the kitchen table or a table in a living room. I predict we won’t have photo albums in the future, but we do right now.

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December 13, 2022
Homework & Schoolwork

New cheating breakthrough, can kids resist?

Is learning to write obsolete? How impactful will all the bias be? How can we trust who wrote what, including the issue of cheating? Today I’m writing about ChatGPT. This is HUGE. From the program itself, “ChatGPT is a large language model trained by OpenAI. It is designed to generate human-like responses to text input.”

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December 6, 2022
Creativity

My Big List of Screen-Free Holiday Gifts

We all know tech gifts are a big part of the holiday season, but as always, I offer tech-free ideas today. I am not putting down tech — many wonderful tech gifts will get exchanged this year, but I hope you will find this tech-free list to be a bit helpful.

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November 29, 2022
Social and Interpersonal Development

Three steps to nurturing mentally stronger kids

One of the most important resiliency tools we all carry in our tool belts is the act of remembering past times we got through challenges. The problem is doing it during setbacks, and those times don’t readily come to mind. Today’s blog is about 3 ways to nurture this skill in our children.

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November 22, 2022
Screen Time Reduction Skills

Fostering Thanks This Week

This Thanksgiving week, I’m taking time with my family. Due to illnesses in the family, this is the first time since the pandemic began that we finally get to have an extended family gathering, and I’m taking the week to truly enjoy it. Here are four of my past Screenagers’ Tech Talk Tuesday favorite Thanksgiving posts which are chock-full of ideas for fostering togetherness this week.

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November 15, 2022
Screen Time Rules

Find Out What Your Friends Are Doing About Screen Time

Hearing ideas from people in our circles can significantly impact us in many ways. For example, it might get us to try something new, and being able to follow up with the person who shared the idea can get us through challenging times. Parents often believe other parents are much more permissive around tech than they actually are. In today’s blog, I write about ways you can help instigate more sharing of screen-time parenting approaches with your friends.

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November 1, 2022
Away For The Day

When A School Reversed Its Cellphone Policy

Recently I received a wonderful email from Adam Slusher, vice principal at Pennsville Middle School in New Jersey, who did a thoughtful rollout of Away For The Day, using many of the free resources we’ve put together to help people through the process. What I think is great about the letter is that it maps out in great detail the rules they created as well as details on how they implemented Away For The Day.

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October 25, 2022
Media Literacy

How To Protect Kids From Overly Scary Films and Shows

Many young people and adults love horror films and talk about how they love the feeling of being scared. This is so very different from me. I am not at all a fan. This week I have been thinking about ways to talk with kids about when horror in movies, TV shows, and online, in general, go too far.

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October 18, 2022
Screen Time Reduction Skills

When Teens Resist Extracurriculars, What To Do

I firmly believe that kids should have at least two activities that they are doing outside of school time. But what to do if the teen is not motivated to find something to do? In today’s blog, I write about what to do when our teens are resistant to getting involved in extracurriculars.

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October 11, 2022
Media Literacy

Teens Talk About HBO’s Euphoria

The Screenagers’ Tech Talk Tuesday blog from two weeks ago provided four questions for teens to answer regarding the HBO show Euphoria. As intended, the questions sparked conversations among adults and teens, and we got many thoughtful answers from teens in the questionnaire.

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October 4, 2022
Mental Health

How to Help with Intrusive Thoughts

Today’s topic is about human mental health at the widest level: intrusive thoughts (also known as repeated negative thoughts, unhelpful chatter, and so forth). In my early thirties, I began having intrusive thoughts on a more regular basis. Today I share several ways I combat these intrusions.

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September 27, 2022
Media Literacy

Euphoria And My Unusual Request

I find HBO’s Euphoria incredibly disturbing and know that although so many of our kids have watched it, many parents never have. Today, I offer a way into a conversation with youth about the show’s topics and popularity.

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September 20, 2022
Challenging Conversations

Preparing For Sudden Tech Failures

If there was an emergency, what are some things you could do now to shore up your tech to help lessen the impact on your family and work? Read in this Tech Talk Tuesday about four key things I did and made sure my family knew.

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September 13, 2022
Screen Time Reduction Skills

My top 3 back-to-school essentials

The start of this academic year gives us an opportunity to get clarity on our key reasons for wanting to work with our kids to ensure that they have time off screens. What would your three top reasons be? Today, I share mine AND I offer you this 60-second activity to get the conversation going.

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September 6, 2022
Mental Health

My unusual advice to one family with a teen in crisis

Today, I share a strategy (and a story) to help any youth or family who might be struggling emotionally. In this approach you gather a “brigade” of helpers to do what I call “ambushes of love.” Read the blog to see how it worked for one family.

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August 30, 2022
Media Literacy

Schools in Session and A.I. Wants Our Kids' Attention

School has started for some of your children and is right around the corner for others. Schools are, of course, full of tech, which also means they are full of A.I. All those little algorithms are taking their cues, making their moves, and, at times, helping students or hindering them with constructive and destructive capabilities. I’ll start with a personal example of when A.I. can be constructive.

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August 23, 2022
Away For The Day

Good news for cell phones in schools

It has been four years since my team and I launched The Away For The Day (AFTD) campaign to help people get sound cell phone policies into schools. The research remains clear that when phone use is limited at schools, students do better socially, academically, and emotionally. Given the enormous increases in screen time and social isolation over the past two years, as well as the jump in mental health problems, ensuring healthy phone policies is more important than ever. Today, I share some wonderful examples of how the AFTD Campaign has led to real changes in schools across the country.

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August 16, 2022
Challenging Conversations

It’s Everywhere Online, But Nobody is Talking About It

Raising topics around sexuality is, to varying degrees, uncomfortable. Yet, I believe our digital age makes having uncomfortable conversations paramount. It’s a gift to kids of all ages when we calmly and non-judgmentally raise topics related to sexuality and let them know we care and are here for them. Today, I offer four topics to raise with your child or older teen. Some will be appropriate for both age groups, and some will just make sense for those who are a bit older.

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August 9, 2022
Parenting Resources

Addressing Burnout in Parenting

When thinking about burnout, we generally connect it to work, feeling like the demands are too high and nothing we do makes a difference. We can also get burned out from the job of parenting. Today, I provide strategies to help combat parental burnout, drawing from the organizational psychologist Adam Grant’s ways to address burnout in the workplace by using these three components: demand, control, and support.

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August 2, 2022
Social and Interpersonal Development

How to help kids with social pressures

Should I be wearing this brand? Should I try those skateboard tricks I saw on YouTube? Should I try vaping? Throughout my kids’ school careers, I’ve always reminded them, “You are steeped in social pressures, and there is no way you can fully appreciate the weight of them until you get to the other side. Social pressures never completely disappear, but they lessen greatly after your schooling days.”

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July 26, 2022
Media Literacy

X-Rated For Gruesome

The intensity of gore and shockingly disturbing violence in popular shows and our kids are often freaked out by gore, but they become increasingly accustomed to it with age. For many teens, it can be quite appealing. So today, I’m interested in looking at where we are at this moment in time when it comes to violence in shows.

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July 19, 2022
Screen Time Reduction Skills

A Fun Way To Tweak Summer Screen Time

We know free time can easily slip into screen time, particularly in the summer. Today I'm giving you some fun specific tool ideas to address this in a low-charged way with kids.

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July 12, 2022
Media Recommendations

My Summer Reading, Watching, Listening List

I thought I'd share a short list of what I'm reading, watching, listening to, exercising to and talking about with my kids, right now. You'll find most of the things on the list are related to parenting.

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July 5, 2022
Creativity

How I Love To Teach My Kids Appreciation

Today, I’m focusing on this awe-form of appreciation and how we can foster it in our kids. I believe one key way to do this is to get them to try new things. I notice my sense of awe is much greater for something I have tried myself.

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June 29, 2022
Reading

Super Summer Reading for Youth, by Youth

Today I’ve compiled recommended summer reading for youth, by youth. I had fun reaching out to several thoughtful teens to see what books they would recommend to their peers. They provided many interesting reads: some classics and others that are lesser-known.

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June 14, 2022
Reading

Rethinking Our Kids’ Summer Reading

It is important to examine our expectations, hopes, and dreams for our kids’ summer reading and today I share ideas to help create fewer disappointments and a broader view of what reading “success” looks like.

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June 7, 2022
Creativity

How Has Covid impacted youth screen time Part 2

Findings about Covid's impact on screen time and quiz questions, answers, and discussion questions to share with your kids, students, or you name it.

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May 31, 2022
Mental Health

My Number One Mental Wellness Move

Through exercise, the increase in heart rate gives me sustained relaxing effects and consistently lifts my mood. During difficult times, It helps me deal with my anxiety. My repetitive negative thoughts fade into the background during physical activity. Today I offer five tips that can help launch or increase physical fitness for you and/or your children.

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May 24, 2022
Mental Health

My Family Story of Mental Illness

Mental illness, in its most severe forms, can be devastating. I know because it has caused such hardship for my family. I grew up with two parents who both had severe mental illness. I had no siblings and almost no family nearby. Today I’m sharing a bit of my life story and offer questions you can use when talking with kids and students about the media's portrayal of severe mental illness.

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May 17, 2022
Mental Health

3 Step Road Map for Mental Health Hack When Tragedy Hits

In keeping with this month of Mental Health Awareness, I want to talk about one of the most effective resilience skills we can help impart to our kids: the act of taking pain and turning it into positive action. It is well established that doing actions to address tragedies or injustices can lift our feelings of wellbeing, hope, self-efficacy, and purpose.

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May 10, 2022
Depression

In a World of Happy Posts — Why Expressing True Emotions is So Important

In the spirit of Mental Health Month, it is paramount that all kids know that mental health issues affect us all. Our emotional lives are so complicated. The pressure youth feel to exude certain feelings can be intense. A significant portion of my book Parenting in the Screen Age is devoted to mental health issues and today I want to share one small section of the book.

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May 3, 2022
Mental Health

I Made Sure My Kids Knew These 3 Things About The Brain

Today I share three important brain health messages to get to our kids. Also, to share language you can use with them ongoing — whether it’s about their own mental health, others in the family, or peers and beyond.

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April 26, 2022
Mental Health

Now Is Our Time to Tackle Teen Mental Health Crisis

If there was ever a time to get our communities together, our parents, teachers, coaches, grandparents, and particularly our youth — to talk about ways we can help our young people with their mental health, it is now. There is no denying the measurable fact that since 2011, the rates of mental health problems — depression, suicide, and others, along with loneliness — have been going up.

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April 19, 2022
Anxiety

High Achieving Kids and Clinical Anxiety

So often, we talk about “pushy parents” — those putting too much pressure on their kids to straight As, take all AP classes, etc. The fact is there is an incredibly high percentage of kids who are primarily putting this pressure on themselves. All kids and teens experience anxiety at times. It is our bodies’ reaction to fear and stress — it is a part of being human.And then there is anxiety that has gone astray — clinical anxiety. This kind of anxiety is often missed or ignored in youth who are extremely preoccupied with their academic performance — an obsession with getting straight As and the like.

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April 12, 2022
Social and Interpersonal Development

Regret, Lessons For Our Kids

Regret is a topic I have long felt is under-discussed. The feeling of regret is very uncomfortable. Many people I talk to who have regrets only have a mild form. They may have things they would have done differently, but the thoughts in their head don’t come up several times a day. I, however, join hands in solidarity with us less fortunate folks who have brains that experience more repetitive bouts of regret. It is one of the strongest forms of anxiety I contend with. Today I write about ways to help our kids through regret.

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April 5, 2022
Video Games

Video Gaming, What Works For Some And Not Others

Today I’m sharing two polar opposites stories of people’s choices around video gaming — extremes can be great conversation starters. One is from a kid who decided, on his own, to stop all video gaming essentially, and the other is about teens attending a high school that is 100% focused on video gaming and the video gaming industry.

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March 29, 2022
Screen Time Rules

How has Covid Impacted Youth Screen Time? Part 1

Everyone is trying to grasp where we currently are with screen time and kids and where we will be when the COVID crisis is more fully behind us. Today I highlight some of the key findings in a new report and what we can glean from the data to help in conversations with young people.

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March 22, 2022
Anxiety

Helping Kids Combat Social Unease

I have developed a technique I call “Check My Landing,” where I follow up on a conversation with someone when I wonder if my words got misinterpreted. Learn about how to help our youth use this to improve communication.

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March 15, 2022
Creativity

Must-Know Brain Science of Boredom

When I give workshops to students, they get wide-eyed when I tell them, “Our brains are designed for challenge,” and then go on to explain how this relates to boredom, video games, and social media. Boredom is not a mild ho-hum type feeling — it is a very unpleasant sensation, particularly if you are a young person. It’s the brain’s way of saying that it wants something to ponder.

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