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Monroe Middle School screens 'Celling Your Soul' documentary

The documentary looks to answer questions about early cell phone usage, and what current teens think about living in the digital age.

Posted: Nov 5, 2018 10:36 PM
Updated: Nov 5, 2018 11:09 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A psychologist and Monroe Middle School parent held a community meeting on Monday night to screen a documentary that she hoped would be eye-opening.

Dr. Laurie Burke said the high school graduating class of 2016 is considered to be the first fully socially digitized high school graduating class.

That means they were the first class to have direct access to things like social media and texting all at the tips of their fingers.

To see the impact that has had on kids, parents and students at Monroe Middle School watched a documentary to show what would happen if those students put their phones away for a week.

That documentary, called "Celling Your Soul," takes a look at a digital cleanse that one class did and the impacts it had on their lives.

In the documentary, students and their teacher talked about the assignment that was given and made a daily video diary to track what was happening.

"Our teenagers are spending an average of 11 hours a day on screens, so that's more time than they do anything else other than sleep," Burke said. "My hope is to really pull parents together with our children and to really start having a discussion about what this means for our lives, for our families, and for the emotional health and well-being of our kids."

People in the documentary noticed obvious changes in their well-being, including one kid's insomnia going away by being away from his phone for only two to three days.

Kids that we talked to at the meeting said it was eye-opening.

"I think it would be interesting to see how I felt without the technology right there," said Jill Potter. "You know, I think I would definitely feel anxious not being able to be connected to, especially like my parents in a situation or something. I think that would be -- but, I'd like to try it. Yeah, for sure."

"They get this assignment, they're like, 'ugh, do I have to?' But, then they go for like a week and they just -- it completely changed their lives," said Braden Pape. "It's amazing."

Burke suggested using built-in technology, such as the screen-time feature on Apple products, to monitor your kids' digital intake.

She also suggested the following sites for parents to use to begin or further the discussion about using technology in your home, as well as your child's well-being:

American Academy of Pediatrics

Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use

At the meeting, Dr. Burke also handed out a list of questions for parents and kids to go through together*, as well as a summary of a small sample of research on media and cell phone usage in students.

*Note: some of the questions listed may only be answerable if you attended Monday night's meeting.

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