More than 700 parents, students, teachers, and members of the Lake Travis community filled the Lakeway Church January 20 for a special showing of ‘Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age,’ a documentary which highlights the effects of digital screen time on children.
“Screenagers reveals how tech time impacts child development and also offers solutions on how adults can empower their kids to best navigate the digital world,” said Elizabeth Wood, president of the Hudson Bend Middle School PTO. “The huge turnout shows that there is tremendous interest in this topic.” The film was directed by Delaney Ruston, a Seattle filmmaker and physician who uses her own experience with her children as the main storyline.
According to a 2015 Common Sense Media report cited in the film, kids spend an average of 6.5 hours a day on screens, not including classroom or homework time. The same report indicates that nearly two-thirds of teens do not think watching television, texting, or using social media while doing homework has an impact on them.
“With the growing body of research around the adolescent’s developing brain, our work as parents, educators, and community members is to help young people grow up within the digital landscape in a way that nurtures their strengths, health and wellbeing,” said Kathleen Hassenfratz, Lake Travis ISD Health and Social Programs Coordinator and principal organizer of the event. “Community events like the ‘Screenagers’ movie are helping create a much-needed dialogue, both in our schools and in our homes, about the social-emotional development of our youth and the critical roles parents and educators play in that process.”
Upon the film’s conclusion, a panel of local education, health and wellness, law enforcement, and tech experts answered questions from attendees regarding children’s use of technology and its impact in Lake Travis schools. Panelists included:
- Dr. Jessica Buss - licensed psychologist in Texas and California
- Dan Brooks - parent of children attending Lake Travis schools; experience in graphics design and marketing, Leader for Life Parent Advisory Committee member
- Sandy Cox (moderator) - Lakeway resident, Leadership Austin graduate, former TexARTS chair, former Lakeway City Council member
- Lisa Lucas - Travis County Sheriff’s Office/School Resource Officer at Lake Travis High School
- Carl McLendon - Learning Technologies Coordinator at Lake Travis ISD
- Dr. Erica O’Brien - licensed therapeutic optometrist; clinical director for the Optometry Center for Vision Therapy
- Amanda Brown - speech language pathologist at Kitestrings Pediatric Therapy in Lakeway
- Chris Woehl - Executive Dir. for Technology & Information Systems Services at Lake Travis ISD