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Parenting Tips for Teenagers

THE EDGE OF ADULTHOOD: EIGHT SUMMER TIPS FOR PARENTING TEENAGE CHILDREN THIS SUMMER

Summer is often a time when teenagers take major strides towards independence. They may start their first job, land an internship, volunteer with a charity, or visit college campuses to plan for the future. However, with the current COVID-19 pandemic reshaping the entire world right now, many teens have had to put their traditional summer plans on hold. Parents, too, will need to rethink their approach to technology when it comes to guiding and supporting their adolescents through these difficult and uncertain times.

As part of our ongoing series, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development has teamed up with some of the top experts in the fields of parenting, education, and child psychology to bring you a new collection of helpful hints for making the most of this pivotal moment in your teenager’s development. Read on for details, and be sure to tune in to the next “Ask The Experts” interactive webinar series at noon EDT today, June 8, when an esteemed panel of experts will talk about how to navigate this unique summer with your teen and answer your questions via Zoom. You can RSVP here. The workshop will be moderated by Robert M. Bilder, PhD, Director of the Tannenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity at UCLA, the Michael E. Tannenbaum Family Distinguished Professor and Chief, Division of Psychology; Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

Hit reset

Neuroscientists have found that roughly 60-90 minutes of heavy technology use creates a major overload in the brain, and an overloaded brain simply doesn’t work as well as a calm one. Luckily, the cure is easy. TAKE BREAKS. A short break, even as few as 10 minutes, is like hitting “reset” for your body. Brain scans shows us that exercising, taking a walk outside in nature, talking to a friend in person, working on a crossword puzzle, listening to music, and, in fact, any activity that takes your mind away from your devices can be beneficial. Stepping away for 10-15 minutes every hour or so will help “reset” your overloaded brain so you can function more smoothly and effectively. – Larry Rosen, PhD, Professor Emeritus and Past Chair of the Psychology Department at California State University, Dominguez Hills

Connect and cope

Remember when you were a teenager, on the edge between childhood and adulthood? Your mind and body felt ready for more grown up things, but part of you longed for the safety and security of childhood. As teens, we feel so much, and it can be difficult for many to put these feelings into words or to know when and how to share them. Imagine being a teen today when there is so much to feel. Take advantage of the time when you and your teen(s) are in the house together. Think of a movie that explores some of the feelings your teen might be feeling. Watch together and ask them questions about what the characters in the stories were going through, how the characters felt, and what they think the character did right or could have done differently. Be open to all their explorations and listen. The movie you choose might be about a crisis, about a cultural revolution, or just about being a human being dealing with big things. Also, try some fantasy and comedy to visit times and places that bring feelings of calm and spark the imagination. Let them choose some shows or films to show you, as well, and ask why they like them. Stories help us focus on problems and solutions in a space where the consequences aren’t ours. They help us move through difficult feelings and consider how we want to be in the world. I hope that some of these experiences with your kids can end up creating silver linings in your family’s shared memories of this moment in history. – Karen Shackleford, faculty member in the Media Psychology doctoral program at Fielding Graduate University, and Incoming Editor of Psychology of Popular Media.

Independence day

Teens need opportunities to exercise their emerging sense of independence, which can be difficult to do when most of their time is spent at home. This summer, help them find (safe) ways to get out of the house and do something without you. It could be as simple as hanging out with friends, or it could be more involved, like participating in a social cause they care about. Whatever the activity, the key thing is that it’s theirs. – Katie Davis, Associate Professor, University of Washington Information School

Use the news

Between COVID, climate change concerns, and protests over police brutality and civil liberties, teens on social media are likely seeing a lot of contradictory information with high emotional stakes, so it’s important to use this opportunity to teach them about media literacy and healthy habits when it comes to news consumption. Teenagers are capable of understanding a lot, and often want to talk about these issues as part of their emerging political identity, but they need a way to sort through and make sense of it all. Talk to your teens about different sources and biases, using reverse image search to verify pictures, and the pros and cons of expressing one’s views on social media. As teens may be exposed to images of racial violence and trauma circulated online, talk to them about how they manage their media intake, how it makes them feel, and what they can do with this information. For teens who want to express their views, talk to them about how they can manage the risk of online political expression by thinking about which platforms they use, who they follow, and how they comment on others’ posts. Not sure how to proceed? Check out Common Sense Media Resources such as Parenting, Media and Everything in Between and Resources about Race and Racism. – Ellen Middaugh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Lurie College of Education, San Jose State University, @emiddaugh on Twitter

Stay connected

Cut your teens (and yourself) some slack, and let your kids connect with their friends online. An important part of being an adolescent is learning about friendships, and in a COVID world this is happening increasingly online. If your teen is a gamer, let them play extra Fortnite with their friends, or if they love social media, encourage them to reach out, create, and connect on TikTok and Snapchat. Luckily, the research shows that most kids are not negatively harmed by this kind of social connection, but of course be sensitive if your teen seems to be exhibiting any extra anxiety from the additional screen time. Make sure they balance screen time with family time and physical activity (which these days can also involve screens), but don’t worry too much, especially if they are using these platforms to socialize. As one teen said pre-COVID, “I’m not addicted to technology, I’m addicted to my friends.” And that’s a good thing! — Yalda T. Uhls, Ph.D, Author of Media Moms & Digital Dads: A Fact not Fear Approach to Parenting in the Digital Age, Founder of UCLAs Center for Scholars & Storytellers

Rest is best

For good mental and physical health, it’s vital that adolescents receive 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. A lack of quality rest puts teens at far greater risk for anxiety, depression, impaired learning, poor diet and obesity. Teens have an extended circadian rhythm, which means they’re susceptible to staying up and sleeping in later, especially if they engage in screen media at night and don’t have structured activities to get them out of bed in the morning. Unchecked, adolescent sleep patterns during the summer can quickly become completely deregulated and dysfunctional. Many teens need parental intervention to maintain healthy sleep habits. Often the best thing that parents can do for the health of their adolescents is ensure that they get out of bed by 8AM and stay out of bed during the day. Parents should also consider completely eliminating screen media from their teen’s bedroom, which will keep help keep the teen out of their bed during the day and help ensure that their devices don’t keep them up or wake them up late at night. Getting adolescents out of bed in the morning can be a challenge, but it can be helpful to gradually open window shades in the morning and let natural light into the room, which helps teens wake up and resets their circadian rhythm correctly. Teens typically don’t appreciate this type of structure being put into their day, but it can do wonders for their health and well being. – Paul Weigle, MD, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry’s Media Committee Chair

Engage in anti-racist action

Take time this summer to engage in a collective effort to confront racism online and offline through co-watching, co-reading and discussing works that illustrate the impact of systemic racism on Black people in the United States. Several documentaries, docu-series, and films are available to watch, as well as historic speeches and debates such as James Baldwin’s debate with William F. Buckley in 1965. There are now several online resources, such as this one, which presents several ways in which you and your adolescent can schedule time each day to increase awareness around racism, and how to combat racism, in the United States. Remember that contribution is one of the key developmental tasks of adolescence, and engaging in dialogues around important societal issues is one significant way to validate your adolescent’s perspective and growth. – Kate Mills, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon

Let teens lead

When my teen daughter Tessa was not long ago experiencing lots of stressful emotions all I wanted to do was help her. Yet, each time I stepped into to try to suggest solutions, I just made things worse. As a physician, I looked for science to explain what was happening and this led me to Dr. Jessica Borrelli’s research on just this issue. Borrelli wanted to understand what happens when parents step in and try to problem-solving for their teens. Borrelli ran experiments where they created a computing puzzle where teenagers were asked to do a puzzle which was basically unsolvable. The parents were told not to help. Monitors that measure stress levels were placed on the skin the teens and the parents. Once the teens started failing at the puzzle most parents stepped in to help. The researchers found that when the parents stepped in and tried to help they had decreases in their stress and the teens had increases in theirs.This scientific explanation helps me with problem-solving now and now I often employ these simple phrases which have made a huge difference with my daughter, “I am curious, what solutions have you been thinking about to address that problem? And, “I am here to brainstorm solutions whenever you want me to — just let me know.” These phrases let her know I have faith in her problem-solving skills and also they put the sense of control in her hands—if she wants my input she has control to ask me for it. – Delaney Ruston, MD, director of Screenagers and Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER about uncovering skills for stress resilience, and author of the parenting blog, Tech Talk Tuesdays.

This summer is already shaping up to be a challenging one for parents and teens on a number of fronts, but such challenges can yield important physical, mental, and social growth if approached with a healthy mindset. Encourage your teens to engage with the world in safe and thoughtful ways while at the same time giving them the space to develop their own identity and values. For more tips, and to have your questions answered by experts, don’t forget to register for today’s virtual workshop here.

About Children and Screens

Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development is a 501C(3) national non-profit organization founded by Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra. Children and Screens advances and supports interdisciplinary scientific research, enhances human capital in the field, informs and educates the public, and advocates for sound public policy for child health and wellness.

Becoming AFI × 50 Years

 “This book puts you directly behind the scenes for a story that began with a dream, overcame constant challenges, and evolved into the institution it is today.”Steven Spielberg

“Documented here by the people who lived it, this is a remarkable tale of how a major institution, created out of whole cloth, wove itself into the American fabric.”

Cokie Roberts, author and political commentator for ABC and NPR 

Becoming AFI Celebrates 50 Years of the American Film Institute


For over fifty years, the American Film Institute has flourished as one of America’s great cultural entities. Its graduates, faculty, supporters, and trustees have included such acclaimed individuals as Steven Spielberg, Maya Angelou, Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier, Meryl Streep, Les Moonves, Patty Jenkins, David Lynch, Jane Fonda, Edward James Olmos, Shonda Rhimes, James L. Brooks, and many other respected leaders in the worlds of film, television, digital media, and philanthropy.

In their new book, Becoming AFI: 50 Years Inside the American Film Institute (Santa Monica Press/October 2017), Jean Picker Firstenberg and James Hindman provide a candid look at how this remarkable organization brought together aspiring filmmakers, educators, and artists who helped AFI become the foremost national champion for moving images as a vibrant art form.

From its early years operating out of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and the legendary Greystone mansion in Beverly Hills under the leadership of George Stevens Jr., through its incredible growth into an influential cultural institution at its landmark Hollywood campus under the guidance of Jean Picker Firstenberg, to its continued excellence today under the dynamic leadership of Bob Gazzale, the organization and its history are chronicled in Becoming AFI through in-depth essays written by those who have been involved in its adventures, growth, and success.

 “After being asked so many times what our book would be about, we decided to put together AFI’s history as we experienced it personally,” explain Firstenberg and Hindman. “As we structured the book with the stories we wanted to tell from those years, we realized that some of those stories really belonged to other voices. So, we went to several former colleagues and asked them to join our band. Each chapter tells a stand-alone story about an aspect of AFI, but together, they add up to the full picture.”

Becoming AFI provides an insightful, behind-the-scenes look at how AFI, with passionate determination, overcame the hurdles of advancing technology, political shifts, and new audience dynamics to turn its aspirations into a substantial and highly successful organization, becoming a tireless advocate of moving images as one of America’s most popular forms of art, and maturing into one of the world’s most respected educational and cultural institutions. 

“No matter how divisive life in this country may become, the movie theater has always been a place where we can discover what unites us.”

Vernon Jordan Jr., New York Times  “AFI saved our film history. AFI celebrates filmmakers. AFI trains the next generation. Thanks to Becoming AFI for telling us the fascinating story of its fifty-year history. And a big thank you to Jean Picker Firstenberg and James Hindman for documenting all of it! Here’s to the next fifty!”

Edward James Olmos, actor and AFI trustee


About the Authors
Jean Picker Firstenberg served as president and CEO of the American Film Institute from 1980 to 2007, overseeing the development of AFI as one of America’s greatest national, cultural, and educational resources. She received an AFI Life Achievement Award for Service to the Institute and was named president emerita and a lifetime trustee. In 2016, Firstenberg was named to the California State University Board of Trustees by Governor Jerry Brown, overseeing the largest four-year public university system in the United States, with twenty-three campuses educating the most diverse student body in the nation. Prior to serving at AFI, Firstenberg spent four years as a program officer at the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation. She also served as director of Princeton University’s Publications Office. Firstenberg is a summa cum laude graduate of Boston University’s College of Communications. She has served on several boards, including that of Boston University (1984–1996), the George Foster Peabody Awards at Georgia University (1985–1997; board chair 1991–1997), and the United States Postal Service Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (2002–2014; committee chair 2008–2014). She has won numerous awards and honorary degrees. 

James Hindman, PhD, has spent his career in cinema and performing arts, creating and leading professional and public education programs at major institutions. During his twenty-four years at the American Film Institute, where he served as co-director and chief operating officer, he was provost of the AFI Conservatory, which he nurtured through WASC accreditation. He was also the uncredited producer of the award-winning feature documentary Visions of Light and the television series Starring the Actor. He developed the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Springs, Maryland, as well as numerous television projects and international film and television festivals. Subsequent to AFI, he developed and led film schools in the U.S. and internationally, including the Red Sea School of Cinematic Arts in Aqaba, Jordan, and New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute in Las Cruces. He is currently on the board of the New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe, charged with creating a new cinematic and media arts program and facilities for the school. Prior to AFI, he served as head of graduate studies in the Performing Arts Department at American University in Washington, DC, having previously taught at the University of North Carolina. Hindman holds a PhD in drama from the University of Georgia and has served on the boards of the AIDS Service Center and LAMP in Los Angeles. He currently splits his time between Santa Monica, California, and Taos, New Mexico.

Patty Jenkins made history in 2017 when she directed her second film, Wonder Woman, becoming the first woman to direct a studio superhero movie and earning the biggest domestic opening of all time for a woman director. Jenkins wrote and directed her first film, the crime drama Monster, in 2003, launching Charlize Theron’s career with many awards, including an Oscar for Best Actress. Jenkins graduated from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1993 and the AFI Conservatory in 2001.

Dana Gioia was appointed Poet Laureate of the State of California in 2015 by Governor Jerry Brown. An award-winning poet who has published five collections of poetry, Gioia served as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2009, and was named a USC Judge Widney Professor in Poetry and Public Art in 2011.

David Lynch, born in 1946 in Missoula, Montana. Eagle Scout. 


BECOMING AFI: 50 YEARS INSIDE THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE

By Jean Picker Firstenberg and James Hindman

Foreword by Dana Gioia

Preface by Patty Jenkins

Afterword by David Lynch

Santa Monica Press/October 2017

Hardcover/$27.95

ISBN-13: 978-159580-094-7


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Trina Kaye – The Trina Kaye Organization

TrinaKaye@tkopr.com / 310-915-0970