Screenagers Panel - Fusion Academy

Fusion Academy is a revolutionary approach encompassing one on one instruction for middle school and high school students.

I have had the pleasure to meet and chat ongoing with a number of Fusion Academy very friendly and caring staff.

Elizabeth Edwards, who is the director of outreach  for the Upper West side and Park Avenue location and Coryn, Director of curriculum, asked me to be part of a panel discussion post the screening of the documentary “Screenagers.”

I'm thrilled to share that the documentary parallels my Technology chapter in my book, What Do You Expect? She's A Teenager! The difference is seeing it in Technicolor. It impacts with quite a wallop.

What was interesting was the Kaiser family foundation survey found that girls spend an average of 90 minutes a day on social media while boys spend about 40 minutes per day. Boys spend an average of 90 minutes a day playing video games while girls spend an average of 40 minutes per day on video games. I recall my son now 34 years old spending a great deal of time on his Game Boy and other portable video games, my daughter, 27,as a girl did as well but not with the same intensity as her brother.

This has ramped up since the phenomenon of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat with live video.

Video games have gotten even more engaging and distracting while groups of kids play and compete online.

The other phenomenal is the increased usage of smart phones, iPhones etc.. I can attest to the addictive quality of such an easily accessible portable medium. I have found myself excited at times over the increased followers and likes.

I'm an adult! Can you imagine a tween and teens relationship and need to be liked? This was clearly documented.

A Sunday evening 60 Minutes program described the addictive quality as deliberate “brain hacking” with the increased level of dopamine that gives us a high. It's all about profit, a moneymaking industry, that is not necessarily thinking about our best interests!

The producer and creator, Dr Delaney Ruston finds herself in a bit of a dilemma with her 14-year-old daughter who desperately wants an iPhone and her 16-year-old son.

Tessa intelligently states to her mom, “all the kids have have an iPhone. I won't be on it all the time, she assures her mom. Drlaney is not so easily convinced. Wow, was that relatable!

What I love seeing was Tessa’s Mom and Dad’s machinations to figure out how to help their daughter achieve balance between her connection to media and her face-to-face connection with her family and friends.

The same holds true with your tween and teenagers relationship to their video games. It's all about finding the balance.

During a break I chatted with a family, a mom, her 14-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. When I asked could she relate to what she saw, she said YES and specifically said “I normally ask my son to get off the video and my daughter to not constantly use her phone. I didn't realize that I would have to explain why!

I was so appreciative that she shared that. I think she had, after viewing the documentary, more of a sense of the addictive quality.

Her son and daughter were lovely teenagers that were very open about their usage of social media, daughter,  as well as video games, son.  We spoke about finding the balance and as adults, What is it that our children are seeing us do?  I smiled and said as role models we need to “Walk our Talk” before we can have a potentially positive seed growing impact on our curious kids.

Our kids watch us like hawks!

The panel consisted of me, James and addiction specialist, a 13-year-old male Fusion student and his mom and Elizabeth Edwards.

The sweetest interaction I had that evening was from a tall smart animated 8 year old girl that I was sitting next to who was intently watching the documentary and listening to me with rapt attention. I could see the seed planting and the flower blooming in her brain and mind!

I spoke to the group about focusing on your child's health safety and welfare. If it's interfering with their sleep, if there's an impact on their grades, if you notice that your child is spending more time inside their rooms, their caves, and not connecting in real face to face time with their family and friends, then there is cause for concern!

I brought two of my books and at the end I asked the little girl to pick a number from 1 to 10. She picked 5 and I said that's it, you won the book its yours! She was so excited!

The teenager on the panel also guessed the right number as well.

It was a stimulating night with lots of food for thought at the Fusion Academy.