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SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING

Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age A popular documentary was shown at St. Andrew’s this year to continue the dialogue about digital screen time in the lives of kids and adults. Scott Zimmerman, SEL Director, and Brearley Khan, LS/MS Counselor, arranged to show “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age” to Middle School students, and Middle and Upper School parents in separate sessions. While many students had a negative reaction to the movie, “because they felt it was biased and gave such extreme examples,” the parent reaction was “overwhelmingly positive in the sense that parents felt validated about their concerns,” according to Scott. Over 100 parents attended the screening at the Upper School Dell Fine Arts Center. After the screening, parents attended discussion sessions with Scott and Brearley to further investigate problems and solutions. Parents were given an example of a digital contract similar to the one the documentary director had her own daughter sign. Scott notes, “This movie changed my and my wife’s perspective on our standards for our kids too. I think it’s ok as a parent to say to your kids ‘We need to change some things and talk about how you navigate the online world.’ We need to set healthy boundaries, and a digital contract can help with that.” But a digital contract is only part of the solution. Scott says, “I can’t encourage enough parents to watch this film. It helps them understand the wide array of issues, and thus helps them better understand the position their kids are in.” As a parent, Scott adds, “We don’t talk about this enough, we rely too much on our kids to tell us what’s going on. This area is changing so rapidly it’s hard to stay in the loop, but parents can help each other.” Ultimately, in Scott’s view, “moderation is key. Screens can be a part of students’ education, but we need to encourage free play and social engagement with others. From a social-emotional perspective, smartphones can be used as an avoidance mechanism for kids. They need to learn how to handle social situations.” Scott adds, “I think a big takeaway for parents was that it’s ok to set boundaries, and that this is an ongoing discussion that we as a community need to talk about more. If we can afford to purchase the screening rights again, I would love to offer this to parents again.” If you would like more information on “Screenagers” or a related topic, contact Scott Zimmerman or Brearley Khan. SAS

25 •  St. Andrew’s Episcopal School •  www.sasaustin.org

Crusader Magazine - Winter 2017  
Crusader Magazine - Winter 2017  
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