Screenagers: next chapter - Press release

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Press Contact: Lisa Tabb, Co-Producer Screenagers, 415-450-9585

Filmmaker and physician Dr. Delaney Ruston takes the conversation around screens and teens to the next level with Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Addressing Youth Mental Health in the Digital Age —a film that examines the science behind teen’s emotional challenges, the interplay of social media, and most importantly, what can be done in our schools and homes to help them build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression in our digital age.

SCREENAGERS: Growing up in the Digital Age—Delany Ruston’s award-winning 2016 film—was the first feature documentary to explore the impact of screen technology on kids and offer parents and families proven solutions. Screened more than 8,000 times (and counting) to 4 million people in more than 70 countries, it has been featured on PBS NewsHour, the Today Show, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and more. What started as a personal story grew into a national movement, helping millions of youth and their families find their way in a world with instant access to screen time.

In Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER, we follow Delaney as she finds herself at a loss on how to help her own teens as they struggle with their emotional wellbeing. She sets out to understand these challenges in our current screen-filled society, and how we, as parents and educators, can empower teens to overcome mental health challenges and build emotional agility, communication savvy, and stress resilience.

We witness Delaney as she finds her way from ineffective parenting to much-improved strategies. We follow other personal stories of families from an array of backgrounds with a spectrum of emotional challenges. We also observe approaches in schools that provide strategies relevant beyond the classroom setting. Interwoven into the stories are surprising insights from brain researchers, psychologists, and thought leaders that reveal evidence-based ways to support mental wellness among our youth. The impact of social media and other screen time is incorporated in all the topics raised in Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER, how it may be impacting our teens’ mental health, and what we can do to help foster youth in the face of struggles.

Facts from Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER include:

  • Since 2011, there has been a 59% increase in teens reporting depressive symptoms
  • Scientific data shows that 2+ hours a day on social media correlates with a higher chance of having unhappy feelings
  • Teens say their main way of coping with stress is to turn to a screen—this is concerning for many reasons and we need to ensure they have other coping skills
  • Some schools are implementing innovative programs, such as wellness clubs, where teens teach their peers essential communication skills, like conflict resolution and relationship building
  • State of the art therapies, including mindfulness, exposure therapy, and behavior activation, are being used to successfully treat anxiety and depression and yet many teens and adults don’t know that these proven interventions exist
  • When teens suppress emotions, research shows it negatively impacts their school work and other cognitive tasks
  • Just like toddlers’ brains are primed to learn languages, teenage brains are primed for learning skills to navigate complicated emotions
  • A recent study shows that when parents jump in, their stress goes down but their kid’s stress goes up
  • Why it’s important to help teens get comfortable feeling uncomfortable
  • Forward-thinking, concrete solutions for parents, counselors, and educators

Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER shows many ways parents, counselors, and educators can help teens build crucial skills for navigating stress, anxiety, and depression. Some of the featured experts in the film include:

  • Daniel Pine, MD, Chief Psychiatrist, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • Dan Siegel, MD, Director, Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA
  • Drs. John and Julie Gottman, Founders, The Gottman Institute
  • Ronald E. Dahl, MD, Chief Science Officer, Center on the Developing Adolescent at UC Berkeley
  • Laura Kastner, Ph.D., Psychologist and author, Wise-Minded Parenting
  • Ned Johnson, Co-author of The Self-Driven Child
  • Adriana Galvan, Ph.D., Chair, Behavioral Neuroscience UCLA
  • Lynn Lyons, MSW, Author, Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents

Centers, Programs, and Schools featured in Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER Include:

The Center for the Developing Adolescent, Child Mind Institute, Forefront in the Schools at the University of Washington, The Gottman Institute, Hinsdale Township High School District 86, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, Men on the Move, Meridian Middle School, Mindful Awareness Research Center, Roosevelt High School, RULER supported by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Second Step Through Committee for Children, and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

About the Filmmaker

Delaney Ruston is a filmmaker, Stanford-trained physician, and mother of two. Before directing Screenagers and Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER, she made several award-winning films through her company, MyDoc Productions, including a documentary about her father, Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia, and Hidden Pictures: A Personal Journey into Global Mental Health. Both films aired on PBS and were the focus of national campaigns to raise awareness about mental health, including with the World Health Organization.  Delaney has been invited to screen her films and be a guest presenter to hundreds of audiences worldwide, from school age children to The United Nations, Google, Facebook, Harvard, and TEDX.

Delaney began studying filmmaking as an agent for social change throughout her education at Cornell, Stanford (for medical school), and the University of California, San Francisco (for residency). As a UCSF Research Fellow in Ethics and Communication she dove deeper into filmmaking. While on the faculty at the University of Washington, she participated in a National Endowment for The Arts funded filmmaking program. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to make films in India. Former faculty and Filmmaker in Residence at Stony Brook Medical Center, she created films that explore the intersection of health and society. Delaney has been providing care in underserved clinics for 15 years in Seattle, WA.


Screenagers uses a model of distribution where the film is seen only in community settings. Screenagers’ reach over 3.5 years is considered in the industry to be the most successful community distribution effort for a documentary film ever. This distribution model brings parents, kids, teens, and educators together to start a conversation about how screen time impacts their lives and what they can do about it. It is primarily shown in schools, churches, synagogues, community centers, and the like. Now Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER is using this model to continue the conversation. Parents, students, educators, PTAs, religious organizations, medical practices, and workplace groups can book their own screenings of Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER at  Parents are encouraged to bring their kids to the movie.

If you are interested in covering a Screenagers: Next Chapter screening, please contact Lisa Tabb at or by phone at 415-450-9585.