April 12, 2024
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Kushner Shows Acclaimed Film ‘Screenagers’

Film Sheds Light on Impact of Screens and Technology on Children and Teens

Parents and students at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and Rae Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, along with members of the community, were invited to watch a limited engagement of the acclaimed film SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age. SCREENAGERS is the first in-depth feature documentary to explore the impact of screen technology on kids and to offer parents proven solutions that work.

Physician and filmmaker, Dr. Delaney Ruston decided to make SCREENAGERS when she found herself constantly struggling with her two kids about screen time. Ruston felt guilty and confused, not sure what limits were best, especially around mobile phones, social media, gaming and how to monitor online homework. Hearing repeatedly how other parents were equally overwhelmed, she realized this is one of the biggest, unexplored parenting issues of our time.

Director Ruston turned the camera on her own family and others, revealing stories that depict messy struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction (recent studies have shown that screen time increases dopamine production and causes behavior that mimics addiction).

Interwoven into these stories, are cutting edge science and insights from thought leaders such as Peggy Orenstein, Sherry Turkle, Simon Sinek, as well as leading brain scientists who present evidence on real changes happening in the brain. SCREENAGERS goes far beyond exposing the risks of screen time, but reveals multiple approaches on how parents and educators can work with kids to help them achieve a healthy amount of screen time.

The average child in America spends 6.5 hours a day on screens, not including classroom or homework screen time. With the downsides and pitfalls of screen usage prevalent at every step, the importance of intervention is more relevant than ever. That intervention includes ensuring children are smart digital citizens and equipping parents with the tools they need to manage their children’s screen time.

This is a topic that is focused on throughout the year at JKHA and RKYHS. Over the course of the year members of the school’s guidance department meet with students focusing on appropriate behaviors and protocols, how to handle the social aspect of digital media and the potential pitfalls that can occur. Expert speakers are also brought in along with the guidance team to work with and offer counsel to parents on these widespread and prevalent topics and issues.

“Technology’s influence on teen socializing, self-image and learning is changing the developmental trajectory of adolescents,” commented Rabbi Eliezer E. Rubin, Head of School, JKHA/RKYHS and Klatt Family Rosh HaYeshiva. “As parents and educators, we must acknowledge the technology’s transformative effect and the implications for their future growth.”

Following the screening of the movie, Mr. Gary Berger, Assistant Principal, Guidance and Student Services at JKHA/RKYHS, gave a presentation on digital citizenship opening up a useful and practical dialogue. “We were thrilled to be able to present the important film SCREENAGERS to our school community,” commented Mr. Berger. “It is our responsibility to help parents and students navigate through this uncharted territory, and it is crucial for all of us to educate ourselves about the power of screens and electronics on developing brains.”

SCREENAGERS and its filmaker have been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and on NPR, Good Morning America, PBS and Dr. Oz. SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in The Digital Age is selling out audiences around the country.

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