On Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, Harrisburg Academy showed the 2016 documentary film, “SCREENAGERS,” to more than 150 parents, faculty, staff, and community members. Following the film screening, the group engaged in round-table discussions about family contracts, school policies, addiction, and more. There has been a lot of positive feedback about the experience, and we plan to do similar events in future years!
That said, merely showing a film and discussing it does not, on its own, cause much change or perpetuate communication. Two days after the initial screening, on Jan. 26, we showed the film to our community of Middle and Upper School students, as well. Their reactions were immediate and at times, of a high magnitude in opposite directions. Not often are young people confronted with their relationship with technology in such a pointed way, and through follow-up conversations in CPR (Circle of Power & Respect) and advisory periods, students were able to debrief their reactions to the film and discuss some next steps. We have gathered a few things from these conversations:
- Our students reported that their parents are generally not good models of healthy screen time and device usage, particularly with work email and “Googling” at the dinner table.
- Our students, particularly boys, reported that they have favorite games in mobile, console, PC, and even handheld capacities, and that they play these games in some capacity nearly every day — except for console games, which tend to be on the weekend.
- Several students offered that they wish to spend less time on social media, and one student went so far as to delete all social media applications from her phone.
There are three important next steps in this ongoing conversation, separated by constituency group:
- For students, in order to keep them reflecting on their relationships with devices and how it impacts relationships with others, we will, on occasion, devote CPR and advisory time to the issues of screen time, digital media addiction, and cyberbullying. We will also encourage their participation in reduced screen time initiatives, such as today’s National Day of Unplugging, which runs from sundown-to-sundown on March 3-4.
- For parents, we encourage the consideration of a family contract, and also some sort of ongoing discussion with children about relationships with digital media and devices. The producers of “SCREENAGERS” have a weekly blog called Tech Talk Tuesday, which provides relevant, new information and ideas for conversation each Tuesday.
- For faculty and staff at the Academy, we are immersed in ongoing conversations about teaching digital citizenship, content filtering, and policies on device usage.
Overall, we believe this was an important community event that will have positive effect on all participants. We are excited to perpetuate this important conversation in the future!
Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.