Recently, I had the opportunity to moderate a discussion after the viewing of the movie Screenagers. Delaney Ruston, physician and filmmaker, “takes a deeply personal approach as she probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media video games academics and internet addiction.“

The movie investigates the time and ways teenagers spend on digital devices. Our group mirrored the concerns of the parents in the movie: how much is too much, how to best monitor their children’s usage, how to keep abreast of new facets of digital use? What strikes me as most important to this discussion is the impact of the frontal lobe of the brain and executive functions on successful digital device use. Self-regulation, time management, judging cause and effect, and making use of feedback are challenging skills for most all teenagers. Yet these are the skills most needed for a safe and effective life in the cyber world.

“Actions speak louder than words.” How do the adults in student’s life handle their devices? Do they interrupt conversation and meals to respond to text messages or sit for hours playing video or phone games? Learning how to navigate appropriately in the digital age is as important for adults and students.

There are no hard and fast rules that apply to every student. GOSTRONG begins with GOAL, and each family’s rules must mirror their goals and values. When rules are reflective of a more far-reaching end, explained well, and followed by all, there is a far greater chance of success.