Kids and screens: 'Screenagers' movie showing at F-M schools

(Valley News Live) - Some F-M schools are screening a movie Tuesday and Wednesday night, all about screen time. The documentary, “Screenagers” brings forth a wider discussion about the current culture of screen usage, as well as anecdotes, statistics and the brain science behind it all.

"Who’s there to catch you at home?” one boy asks in the movie’s trailer. “Your mom? You can outsmart her easily. No offense. 'Yeah, mom it's a really hard math thing.'"

It's the ever-present battle parents can't stop grappling with.

"When I try to stop him from playing the games, he turns into another person," a parent from the documentary says.

And now local public schools will put screen time to good use: holding free screenings of the documentary.

"I took a picture of myself in my bra and I sent it to him,” another teen is shown saying in the film. “When I got to school, I knew that everyone else knew."

Moorhead Public Schools will show the movie Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Horizon Middle School.

West Fargo Public Schools will hold a screening Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Liberty Middle School.

Dana Strand, a school counselor at Liberty Middle says the movie will be followed with a panel—it will include two mental health providers from Sanford Health, a parent and a teen as well as two Liberty Middle School staffers—herself included.

"What are the boundaries, how can we create them, how can we work together," Strand said. "…So often kids feel we're just taking away stuff from them, and we're not really talking about why it's important to have boundaries when it comes to screen time."

The schools teamed up with Fargo nonprofit, Imagine Thriving, and Sanford Health to bring the screening to "America's 50th state."

"North Dakota was the only state in the whole country that hadn't had one yet,” Dr. Robyn Maley, Sanford Health child psychologist, said. “So we were excited about bringing that to town."

Imagine Thriving, in an email, tells Valley News Live it “looks forward to bringing similar events to schools and communities across the state and region in the future.”

The movie says teenage boys spend 11.3 hours a week playing video games—and we spend on average six and a half hours a day looking at screens, not including school or work time.

"And then I gamed until 3 in the morning,” one boy says in the trailer, “and then I gamed until 5 in the morning."

“You know, we would never set a huge plate of cupcakes right in front of your five-year-old's face and say, 'don't eat it, don't eat it,'” Maley said. “But we expect them to just be controlling their own electronic usage."

The movie encourages discussion to find solutions.

"No, it's not too late,” a woman in the documentary says. “The research that shows human resiliency gives me hope."

"It's not only what screens are doing wrong or what's bad about them,” Maley said, “it's also just what people are missing out on when they're not."

Moorhead Public Schools will show the movie Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Horizon Middle School.

West Fargo Public Schools will hold a screening Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Liberty Middle School.

The movie is one hour and eight minutes long and will be followed with an hour-long panel discussion. The screenings are free to the public.

We're told Fargo Public Schools is looking to hold a screening this fall.