Screenagers - Talking About Digital Citizenship and Emotions

  • Parent Education
  • Sage Ridge Spotlight
Michelle Gallivan-Wallace


The Sage Ridge Parents Association sponsored the screening of the film Screenagers Next Chapter for parents on 12 January and Middle and Upper School students on 13 January to support our school pillars: scholarship, integrity, respect, courage and community.  Each pillar supports students as they develop into responsible citizens and positive members of various communities.  One of these communities is the digital world.  Integrity is needed as teens and young adults attempt to navigate the intricacies of social media, digital content, and online communication.  We feel it is important to foster responsible digital citizenship in our students.  This was the message given to students prior to screening the film.

As a follow up to the film, we wish to encourage you to discuss digital citizenship at home.  It is also important to know that digital citizenship applies not only to social media platforms, but also to group texts, group platforms like Discord, and gaming chats.  Students are connecting through their devices more than ever and on more than just the major apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.   We encourage you to talk to your children about the ways they communicate online and your expectations for digital citizenship.

The film, Screenagers Next Chapter, highlights the connections between screen time, sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression.  My takeaways from the film were 1) it is healthy to feel and talk about emotions, and 2) finding balance between screen time and off screen time is important to our mental health.  We need to encourage students to articulate their emotions and talk openly about these.  Having emotions is a natural consequence of interacting with others and experiencing life.  Talking about feelings is not a sign of weakness and by discussing emotions we can help curtail feelings of anxiety and depression.  

The second message was about balance.  How can we find balance with screen time?  We will be discussing this and more in future advisory lessons.  We encourage you to facilitate conversations at home about digital use.

After the film, we reminded students that they have support on and off campus if needed - advisors, teachers, Deans, parents, and Dr. Hardister.

To help facilitate the conversations at home, we wanted to share the source of our lesson materials: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/.  Preceding and following the film, students took part in digital citizenship lessons in advisory by discussing questions like the following (questions varied by grade level):

What are the benefits of being connected 24/7?

What are some of the problems and drawbacks of social media?

How does or how can social media affect your friendships?

Do you think their media habits add value and meaning to the lives of the kids in the videos? Explain.

What are some of the benefits of doing things offline (that don't involve digital media)?

How can we present ourselves online in a responsible way?  What should we keep in mind if we find ourselves comparing one person to another or ourselves to another using only online information?

What features of social media platforms are designed to hook users?  Can you think of features that weren't mentioned in the video?

Do you think their media habits add value and meaning to their lives? Explain.

What do you think is the best way to balance using digital media and doing things offline?

We hope to continue discussions of digital citizenship and social-emotional learning throughout the remainder of this school year.  If you need support with any of these topics, then please feel free to reach out to either Dean of Students (Michelle Gallivan-Wallace and Emily Dolan) or our School Counselor (Dr. Tracy Hardister).  More information and resources about the film can be found at https://www.screenagersmovie.com/resources

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