Screenagers

Chloe Swinney, Reporter

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In filmmaker Dr. Delaney Ruston’s 2016 documentary, “Screenagers,” Ruston attempts to raise awareness of the danger posed by the increasing role of technology and media in daily life as well as effective ways to combat it.

The film follows Ruston’s journey as she determines how best to moderate her own children’s use of social media, video games, and more.

As both a trained primary care physician and a mother, Ruston explores the dilemma and possible solutions to teenagers’ growing dependence on and obsession with their devices through a scientific lens as well as from the perspective of a parent battling resistant teens to use media in healthy and positive ways.

The film calls upon researchers and endless studies to display the negative effects which improper or excessive use of technology can present.

Some viewers were shocked to learn that violent video games originated as a military simulation aimed toward desensitizing soldiers to the trauma of the battlefield. Others were alarmed by the story of a young man whose addiction to media and technology led him to drop out of college and necessitated an extended detox from all technology to regain health, motivation, and well-being.

Extreme cases aside, the documentary warned of the more subtle, and more common, effects brought on by this age of information and connectivity.

Social media has proven to be a major proponent of insecurity and self-consciousness in individuals and especially in young women. In such applications, a huge emphasis is placed on physical appearance. Positive feedback on these sites is most commonly geared toward admiring outward beauty and physique.

This pressure to appear attractive often leads to users feeling the need to edit their photos with filters, cover parts of their face or body, and even Photoshop their image. Too often, this breeding-ground for comparison and self-doubt leaves individuals feeling less attractive and their lives less fulfilling than the picture perfect stories they see online.

For some users, constant communication via text, email, and instant messaging has made it a challenge to effectively communicate face to face. Rather, many use their phones as a crutch to avoid uncomfortable situations or discussions, preferring to face them from behind a screen.

Yet the instant gratification that goes along with these games, sites, and other forms of communication keeps people coming back for more, even when recognized as detrimental to their productivity, self-image, and even health.

Ruston proposes that parents have an essential role in setting positive examples for their children, setting guidelines for appropriate technology use, and explaining the importance of learning to manage time spent online or gaming.

For many, the film was an eyeopener to the effect which the constant use of screens has in daily life and has inspired individuals to reflect on their own habits of usage as well as ways to improve.

As the role of technology increases, the contents of the film are applicable to and should be viewed by all to help make the continual advancements of the age of technology truly beneficial rather than detrimental.

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Screenagers