Screenagers is a documentary film by Delaney Ruston that is currently making the rounds across North America. “Growing Up in the Digital Age” is the subtitle and the film covers a range of topics that include but aren’t limited to, gaming, social media and the pressures associated with it, addiction, digital citizenship and the role of screens in the lives of families. It clocks in at an hour and six minutes which was a bit long in the opinion of my teenager, but does a decent job of presenting some of the challenges facing teens and their parents when it comes to understanding the relationship we have with devices. I’d encourage you to see it should it be screening in your area. Please check out the following link for more details: Screenagers: The Movie
I brought my kids with me (kids 18 and under are free) and while they were reluctant at first (“Geez dad, will there even be any other kids there?” – there were), in the end they both felt it was worth while. The biggest take aways for us actually came from a panel discussion that happened after the screening. In it, we learned about the concept of “Goldilocks” – the notion that there can be too much screen time, too little and some that is just right. This amount will of course vary from family to family depending on their values but my kids liked this idea that there could be a happy medium. I fully support this notion. I work in an industry that creates content for screens, and my business was boosted when the iPad and like models came out opening up a whole new avenue for storytelling, so while I have a vested interest in content development I also don’t want screens to take over my kid’s lives. I’d prefer to have discussions with them about developing strategies to help them gain control of their usage and how to be good digital citizens rather than characterize screens as dangerous and addictive. Probably the best part of the whole experience was the talk we had on the drive home. Here are the ideas that stuck with us the most:
There can be a happy medium of screen usage and it’s up to kids and their parents to discuss this together
Self control takes practice and we as parents are there to help
One of the film’s experts, Laura Kastner, talked about the idea of high school students being “under programmed”. She quoted a stat that 40% of teens don’t have after school programs and are turning to screens to fill their time
Fake Likes. I had no idea what this was but my teenage daughter explained it to me. She pointed out that this can be better managed by making one’s online profiles private thereby restricting comments to people you know.
Parents need to take a look in the mirror and examine their screen time usage. Do you take your phone into the bathroom with you? Do you look at it as soon as you wake up? Right before you go to bed? Guilty…
The irony that we were watching a film about screen usage on a screen and that we were being asked and encouraged to post our thoughts online and to respond to questions and ideas, through our screens
If nothing else, this film provided another opportunity to discuss this subject together. I don’t know what is right or wrong, I’m not sure anyone does, but based on our family’s values we will continue to make decisions that support what we believe in. Perhaps the most important thing we can offer our kids when it comes to screen time is an open, non-judgemental door to talk.
Yes, we’ve reached that glorious time of life where our daughter luxuriates in long, drawn out hot showers. Somehow, her brother is always in desperate need to brush his teeth when she is showering, but to be fair to him, it can be a bit of a wait. While I’m not so sure he actually cares about the water bill, I do believe it was a crafty move on his part to steer the conversation in a financial direction in an effort to jolt me into action in support of his dental hygiene needs.
If your kids are anything like mine, they come home from school famished. Ravenous. The default is to go for the easy stuff – packaged crap that is high in sugar and tastes delicious. Well, with the help of the Canadian Sport Institute and our Canmore Nordic Ski Club, (we had a nutritionist speak to us about healthy food choices for student athletes), I’ve whittled down an excellent list into some options I believe are easy for my kids to help themselves to, are better for them and also taste delicious. My hope is that this eliminates the question that invariably follows the dumping of their knapsack and plodding over to wherever I happen to be when they come home which is, “What should I have to eat?”
“Feast your eyes on the fridge door!” I shall reply in a jolly tone. “And choose whatever tickles your taste buds!” The rest, is up to them.
Print off a copy, slap it on your fridge and let me know if your day becomes “What should I have to eat” free!
At first blush, this might seem super depressing. The reality was that this was a great starting point for a dinner discussion. My guess is that the notion of pointlessness came from an 11 year olds acknowledgement that Sunday evening feeds into Monday morning and with that the beginnings again of the weekly routine. More specifically, this means: get-up, go to school, eat a dinner that probably doesn’t make my top 5, go to bed. Repeat.
Of course each day is far more varied than that, a fact he granted after some further probing. I think this speaks more to the reality that as we grow it’s natural to question our place in life. What does it all mean? What is it’s purpose? What is my role in it all? Big questions that many adults probably can’t answer. We talked about family values, experiences, the importance of enjoying the moment and not just the end goal – all good stuff but did it resonate with the immediate feelings of a sixth grader? I’m not sure but it was a good chat never-the-less.
Making time to eat dinner together has oft been discussed as critical for all members of your family. Need a refresher? Try this story from Today’s Parent. Or this one from the Washington Post. Or how about visiting this site devoted to family dinner: The Family Dinner Project.
Enjoy tonight’s dinner and maybe even an engrossing chat about existentialism!
Raise your hand if you’re exhausted from shuttling your kids to and from school, playdates, after school activities, sports events…. the list never ends. I recently created a spreadsheet to share with a couple of other families in an effort to share the load in an attempt to alleviate that last minute anxious texting and calling. It’s sorta working…
Well, our friends in the auto industry are bringing us the future and it’s looking good. At the Consumer Electrics Show in Las Vegas Chrysler unveiled an electric, self-driving minivan that could completely eliminate the taxi dad and mom roles. Just imagine yourself grabbing another hot drink and picking up your book while the “Portal” whisks your kids to dance/ski/soccer/music/daycare/school… Ok, maybe it’s not quite like that but we taxi parents can dream, can’t we?