Mountain Youth to screen Vail Valley premiere of ‘Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER’

Film documents one family’s challenges with technology, providing insight without feeling preachy

By Heather Hower
Special to the Daily

A few years ago, Mountain Youth brought the first showing of “Screenagers” to our community, which brought attention to how technology impacts the lives of young people and families. Dr. Delaney Ruston, filmmaker and physician, provided us screentime and monitoring contracts and discussion points, ways to engage with the young people in our homes, and how to navigate the scroll. More than 500 people came to the screening here in Eagle County in 2017, organized by Eat Chat Parent.

In just a few short years, the world has changed and phones, apps and technology are even more ever-present. In “Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience,” Dr. Ruston once again documents her own family’s challenges with technology, providing insight without feeling preachy, helping us all learn to build each other up, overcome mental health challenges and foster emotional agility, increase communication savvy and build stress resilience.

“Without a doubt, what we’ve learned is that parents and their children struggle with technology — use, overuse, how to monitor their children on it. And, depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand with the explosion in screen time,” said Carol Johnson, community education manager at Mountain Youth. “Excessive screentime exacerbates anxiety and depression that is already present … conversely all screentime isn’t bad, because sometimes it can be good. We want to work together to find the balance and rely on community supports when needed.”

Dr. Ruston witnesses her children struggle with anxiety that affects their well-being. The struggle, of course, brings the inevitable feelings of failure as a parent. She, through the dialog with her children and sharing other families’ struggles, provides effective strategies that build skills, and decrease stress, anxiety and depression — much of which is attributed to the ever-present screen.

“The impact of social media and other screen time is incorporated in all the topics raised in ‘Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER,’ how it may be impacting our teen’s mental health, and what we can do to help foster youth in the face of struggles,” the promo shares. Ruston does this through interviews, conversations and learns how parents and schools can empower teens to overcome mental health challenges and build emotional agility, communication savvy, and stress resilience even as they encounter the lure of the screen every hour.

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Mountain Youth will host a screening of “Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER” on May 6 at 5 p.m. After the screening, there will be a panel discussion with three Vail Valley youth and a child psychiatrist. Eagle Valley Behavioral Health is the presenting sponsor of the film screening and Eat Chat Parent.

While the first “Screenagers’ film inspired during its screening in 2017 in Eagle County, it was the post-film discussion that really riveted families and helped children and parents see both sides of the proverbial screen — and work together to create a dynamic plan and open conversation.

Please join us (virtually). While we are confined to our homes thanks to COVID-19, screen time usage has increased by up to 800 percent by some estimates. Together, we are stronger and are able to create guidelines and open conversation.

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