Posts in Media
10 documentaries to watch with your family

Let’s face it—our kids are exposed to lots of media that is pure junk. Media frequently paints a world filled with such intense negativity— people out to impress, people out for themselves, people out to hurt others...the list goes on and on. So how to expose kids to media that has positive messages but is not overly sappy? To find media that is real and meaningful? In my completely unbiased view, I think documentaries make for great media. Okay, I am biased because I am one of many people who make documentaries. 

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Beggin for Sexts

I hear from many pre-teen and teen girls that they or their friends have been asked by boys via social media to send nude pics. In one discussion I had with a 10th-grade girl this week, she told me it “happens all the time” to her. This is so very disturbing. 
 
Now here is the real killer. The guys have been known to make threats if the girls don’t comply. Girls are threatened with social embarrassment on many fronts.

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Would your kids leave their smartphone at home during a family vacation?

I just got back from a 3-week vacation with Meleah, my 13-year-old highly social daughter. We have been doing the Tech Talk Tuesdays together for the last year, so there’s a lot of talk about screen time … but even so, she is a social teen who likes to “talk” to her friends via Snapchat, Facetime, and Instagram frequently.  

A week before we left she said: “Mom, I think I’m going to leave my iPhone at home.”  I played it cool and just asked why. She said she needed a break. So, we went old school and turned it back to 2004. 

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What are teens saying about "13 Reasons Why?"

Last week we talked about the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” and how to talk to your kids about the hard subjects seen in the show. The show has remained a constant headline for its graphic portrayal of cyberbullying, rape and suicide. It has received so much attention, Netflix announced a second set of warnings before episodes.

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"13 Reasons Why" and how to talk to our teens about hard issues

Teens all over the world are streaming the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why.” The series, based on the young adult novel by Jay Asher, explores hard issues like online bullying, rape, and suicide. Because youth today so often watch shows alone on their personal devices, it is imperative that we engage and have conversations with our teens about these intense subjects. 

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Hooked: How do media companies keep us glued?

I just returned from Australia where I was rolling out Screenagers. The film has screened in more than 30 countries so far and we have a new partnership in Australia that is really exciting. Doing screenings and press throughout put me in contact with parents, teachers, and reporters. All over the country, I heard exactly the same questions and concerns I’ve heard in the U.S. and in other countries:  Why are we so glued to our devices and what is excessive screen time? A new book called Irresistible by Adam Alter looks at why everyone seems to be is so entranced by screens.  He makes points such as how Netflix shows are designed specifically for binge watching.

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Kids think they are better multitaskers, but are they?

I am the first to say that I love multitasking. If I am cooking, researching for a film, emailing and stretching all at essentially the same time, I am happy. But then the happiness fades when I burn yet another pan (no joke) or can't recall anything from some research I just read or realize my stretching was half-hearted. 

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Do you have physical effects from screen overuse?

People often ask me about the medical risks that all this screen time is having on our kids—such as the development of eyesight problems or tendonitis. I get emails from ophthalmologists who are convinced that nearsightedness is increasing, but so far there are no long-term studies to say anything definitively. One thing studies do show is that plenty of time outside is needed to prevent nearsightedness.

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To Google or not to Google

How many times have you or your kids pulled out a phone at dinner to quickly get the answer to a question that comes up?  Knowledge-on-demand is the norm now but I am concerned it takes away from interesting, deeper conversations and interrupts dialogue. When you don't have one answer, you are forced to generate your own ideas on the topic. Debate and quandary on a topic spurs imagination.

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How “likes” affect kids’ brains

This recent UCLA study about what happens in a teens’ brain when they get a “like” on their photo is very interesting. The researchers looked at brain scans of teenagers while they were looking at “neutral” photos, such as friends having innocent fun, and “risky” photos, that included photos of teens drinking alcohol and wearing sexy clothes.

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Does device checking cause anxiety?

The American Psychologic Association (APA) just released a report that looks at self-reported rates of anxiety from a survey of 3,511 adults in the United States. They found that almost 90% say that they either often check or constantly check their emails, texts and social media accounts. They call this 90% group “constant checkers (CC).” The CC group report higher anxiety levels than the people who report checking their devices less often. 

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

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! 

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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.  

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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.

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