The last day of school before February break for students in grades 6 through 12 in the Tri-Towns found them all converging at ORRHS to view Screenagers, a documentary that explores growing up in the new digital age.
Screenagers follows the journey of mom Delaney Ruston as she is faced with the decision of whether to give her 12-year-old daughter a smartphone and the possible risks that are associated with a large amount of exposure to video games, social media, and personal digital devices.
The documentary touches upon studies around screen time hurting cognitive performance and how too much time on the Internet can reduce one’s capacity for empathy.
When Screenagers was shown at the high school earlier in the school year for members of the community to see, a common piece of feedback they received was that parents wished their children could also see the film, said Principal Mike Devoll to the gathered student audience.
The juniors and seniors viewed the movie first thing in the morning, followed by the entire junior high. The sixth graders from Old Hammondtown, Rochester Memorial, and Sippican School were all bused to the high school in the afternoon to watch the film in the auditorium, while the freshmen and sophomores saw it during their last class block.
The ORR Ambassadors were on hand for the entire day, specifically during the presence of the sixth grade classes. A group of the leaders led the OHS and Sippican students in a widely enjoyed game of “Simon Says” as they waited for RMS’s arrival. The Ambassadors watched the documentary with the younger students, as well. Afterwards, they served the students pizza and water in the gymnasium.
Following each screening, the assembled students then broke into groups, each with two to three high school Ambassadors, to have discussions about the content of the movie.
The sixth graders spoke of their and their parents’ electronics usage at home, as well as different aspects of the documentary that stood out to them.
One group of Mattapoisett and Marion elementary students discussed specifically about the topics of video game addiction, social media, and screen use and time. Many actively participated without the urging of their high school discussion leaders.
Conversation continued outside of the breakout groups. Whispers could be heard during the film as students immediately reacted to the information presented to them, and this lasted as they were released back to classes.
Whether they agreed or disagreed with the film’s stance, the fact that there was discussion about the topic as a whole means that it was a successful endeavor.
By Jo Caynon