'Screenagers' Film, Panel Discussion, Next Wednesday

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Health , Education

A screening of "Screenagers" will happen March 22 at Monomoy Regional High School.  DEBORAH READ PHOTO

HARWICH Almost every week, Youth Counselor Sheila House has a conversation with a parent who's concerned that their teenager is spending too much time on their phones or computers. A panel of experts will take up the topic following a screening of the film “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age,” next week.

The event happens on Wednesday, March 22 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at Monomoy High School.

Parents often worry that teens who spend too much time on smartphones and computers suffer unique social difficulties, time management challenges, sleep deprivation and other problems.

“It's something that hasn't really been studied much until recently,” House said. The film provides information about how social media and other digital distractions affect the developing brain. But the documentary isn't preachy, she said.

“Parents and kids tend to leave feeling like they have more information. I really want teenagers to come to this,” House said.

Common problems related to digital media include the immediate, persistent nature of communicating by text, chat or social media. Some teens stay up late at night expecting messages, she said.

“There's a lot of anxiety around if a friend doesn't text them back right away,” House said. Teens sometimes fall into the trap of using social media as a vehicle for gossip or even bullying, “as opposed to it being a fun thing,” she added.

While teenagers' brains have not fully developed with regards to impulse control, the problem of excessive screen time is not limited to teens, House said.

“Adults are just as guilty.”

The film is around an hour in length, and will be followed by a question-and-answer period with House, Dr. Bart Main of Cape Cod Healthcare, parent Joy Jordan and Deborah Martin from the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office. Admission is free.

For more information, visit www.ScreenagersMovie.com.