June 16, 2024
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Jewish Federation and Englewood Health Present Social Media Documentary ‘Like’

On Wednesday, November 18, Englewood Health, in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, will present a virtual screening of the acclaimed documentary “Like.” An IndieFlix original, “Like” explores the impact that social media and technology have on our lives and aims to inspire us to self-regulate so that we can navigate the digital world more successfully. The film will be followed by an expert panel discussion moderated by Executive Producer Scilla Andreen.

Following the presentation, participants will have an opportunity to submit questions to panelists including Danielle Lambert, LCSW and behavioral health manager at Englewood Health; Max Stossel, head of education and content at Center for Humane Technology and featured in the film; Dr. Jerry Bubrick, senior psychologist at Child Mind Institute; and Mikelle Schifter, a speech language pathologist working with preschool and school-aged children.

Research shows that social media is a complex platform that feeds into our social lives, our emotions, our actions and even how we think. The documentary features interviews with media critics and psychology experts who examine the effects that social media has on its users. The film also lends a voice to teens who explain what social media means to their lives.

According to Jennifer Yanowitz, a social worker and strategic program manager at Englewood Health, kids today are using social media more than ever, partially due to the impact of COVID-19, which has forced us to rely on technology for learning and interacting. On some levels technology has been extremely helpful, she said, yet at other times it becomes excessive, forcing us to consider how to create a healthy balance.

Lambert, a licensed clinical social worker and behavioral health manager at Englewood Health, believes the concern lies with the marketing behind these popular online platforms. “It’s not only an issue with your own self-control,” she said. “The phone is designed to consume the user and there are algorithms to prove it.”

As users, we think we are in control and making choices, but experts warn that is not the case. “Like” does a remarkable job demonstrating how deliberate the tech companies are at influencing the user, making it almost impossible to “shut down.” These moments of manipulation lead viewers to question who is controlling whom. The film helps us recognize that it’s a two-part process. “Once we understand and acknowledge the extremism of the situation, then we can discuss what can be done about it,” said Yanowitz.

Casey Halper, a Federation board member who pre-screened the film with her daughter, believes it can foster a better relationship with social media. “I found that watching this documentary with my daughter opened the door for dialogue about social media,” she said. “It increased our understanding of how different apps work to control us. This increased awareness helped both of us have a better balance of the use of technology.”

With the current state of our country and most people being socially distanced from one another, we find ourselves using technology more than ever as a way to stay connected and informed, said Lambert. She added that while a lot of it is for good reason, it can become a vortex of isolation in a sense because you aren’t connecting with the world around you.

Connecting families is a fundamental value that is essential to both organizations presenting the film. Especially now, when many people are feeling isolated, Jewish Federation works to connect people to one another and hopes that together with Englewood Health they can have an even greater impact on the community.

Federation CEO Jason M. Shames said, “Mental health issues are a growing concern in our society, especially during this pandemic. It is a priority for Federation to help provide important and much-needed support and resources for our community. There is no better partner in doing this than Englewood Health.”

Englewood Health and Federation hope that the documentary will empower families to reflect on their relationship with technology and make changes to improve how they use social media in their daily lives. “Each family has to determine where their moral compass lies and it’s not one-size-fits-all,” said Yanowitz. Finding balance is very difficult for most families and where to draw the line between extreme behavior and normal behavior can be different for everybody. At the very least, the film opens up an opportunity for discussion about an issue that can be overwhelming.

The screening and discussion of “Like” will take place on Wednesday, November 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. To register please visit http://bit.ly/englewoodregister. The program is being presented by The Gregory P. Shadek Behavioral Care Center at Englewood Health through the generous gift from Andrea and Neil Strahl.

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