The impact of technology - from smartphones to social media - was the subject of discussion this week as The Country School welcomed the public to a screening of the award-winning film SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age. The next day, students in Grades 5-8 were invited to watch the film, breaking into discussion groups afterwards to discuss some of the issues raised.
Presented as part of The Country School's ongoing Partnering With Parents series, the film explores the impact of technology on today's families, and particularly on today's children. For Thursday night's screening, some 40 parents, with a few students, joined us for the screening, followed by a panel discussion with technology experts and a licensed social worker.
The next afternoon, Country School Middle Schoolers watched the film. Later, breaking up into small groups, they considered such questions as:
- At what age should a person get a smartphone?
- Should parents establish rules around technology?
- What are the pros and cons of technology in your experience?
Conversation around this topic will be ongoing, but here are a few comments shared by students after watching the film:
- Regarding whether tweens and teens should have access to smartphones and social media, one student said, "You need to be prepared for the challenges in life, but not be sucked into it."
- Asked what was the proper age to have a smartphone, one student suggested the end of high school; another responded, "No, that's way too late."
- Speaking to the pros of technology, students suggested that technology can enhance cooperation and collaboration and provide freedom. On the con side, a student remarked, "Too much freedom and you might do crazy things." "It can make your personality change," another added.
Thank you to our panelists who joined us at Thursday night's screening. They included Bill Leidt, Technology Director and technology teacher at The Country School; Jerry Zigmont, owner of MacWorks, LLC, and a technology consultant with over 30 years experience in the technology industry; and Peggy Chappell, LCSW, a consultant who has worked with children, parents, and teachers for more than 30 years.