Screenagers — More Than Just a Film, an Eye-Opener

Jenna Miller, Editor in Chief

When I heard that Wantagh High School would be holding a special presentation of the film Screenagers, I was not sure of what to expect prior to viewing the film. I read some reviews on it, and the majority were mixed. Some praised it for its lasting messages and holistic approach towards managing the screen time of children and teens, while others weren’t fond of the film’s bias. What I saw was more than anything I could have ever expected, and the impression it made upon me struck me incredibly deeply.

Screenagers is a documentary by Delaney Ruston, who is both a filmmaker and a mother of two. Ruston narrates the film from her personal point of view as she evaluates the pros and cons of giving her teenage daughter an iPhone, while diving into how technology affects the minds, academic performance, and social skills of youth of all ages, backgrounds and genders. The film also presented numerous solutions to the problem of technological addiction in children and teenagers that are flexible in nature, highlighting the importance of balancing screen time and work time.

Prior to watching Screenagers, I was allowed to keep my iPhone in the room where I do studying with me. I would always say to myself prior to doing work that I would maintain a healthy balance between using the phone and doing homework, but I found myself consistently breaking the promises I made to myself. Between getting continuous notifications from social media, having a constant urge to complete levels in my favorite game, and the mindset that “it’s okay to take breaks when you study,” I found my breaks becoming prolonged and eventually, my break time becoming longer than my study time. My grades began to reflect the lessened effort I was giving. I knew something needed to be done, but I had no idea how it was going to be done or what would work for me.

Screenagers discussed the importance of time management and staying focused when working — even the smallest, slightest distraction can mess you up, as it had been doing to me. The solution the film presented of creating a schedule of free time and screen time, and sticking to it, seemed like a good idea for me to curb the screen time addiction that I – and many other teenagers — have, but I didn’t know if I could trust myself to stick to it. But once I started to put the schedule into action, I noticed a change in my work ethic. In addition to keeping my phone outside of the room I do my studying in, I made the resolution to myself that I would follow the schedule to a T — and keep breaks down to a minimum, taking them only when absolutely necessary — and, unbelievably, I stuck to it. If I had never watched Screenagers, I would have never gotten a hold on myself — and lost sight of what matters this junior year, the most important year of my high school career.

Screenagers is a must-see for all elementary, middle, and high school-aged children and teenagers who use technology a lot, as well as their parents. It will cause you to get a brand new perspective on the use of technology and its pros and cons, as well as learn how to solve the problem of technology addiction – or stop it before it even starts.