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Pitt-Greensburg to host Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg will host a screening of Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience on February 11 at 7 p.m. in the Mary Lou Campana Chapel and Lecture Center. This event, sponsored by the Pitt-Greensburg chapter of Psi Chi, the national psychology honor society, and the Pitt-Greensburg Student Government Association, is free and open to the public.

Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience picks up where SCREENAGERS: Growing up in the Digital Age (2016) left off. This award-winning film was the first feature documentary to explore the impact of screen technology on kids and offer parents and families proven solutions.

Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience follows Delaney Ruston, MD, as she finds herself at a loss on how to help her own teens as they struggle with their emotional wellbeing. She sets out to understand these challenges in a screen-filled society as well as to discover how parents and educators can empower teens to overcome mental health challenges and build emotional agility, communication savvy, and stress resilience.

In the film, Delaney finds her way from ineffective parenting to much-improved strategies. The film follows other personal stories of families from an array of backgrounds with a spectrum of emotional challenges. It also observes approaches in schools that provide strategies relevant beyond the classroom setting. Interwoven into the stories are surprising insights from brain researchers, psychologists, and thought leaders that reveal evidence-based ways to support mental wellness among today’s youth. The impact of social media and other screen time is incorporated in all the topics raised in Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER, how it may be impacting teens’ mental health, and what can be done to help foster youth in the face of struggles.

“Pitt-Greensburg is committed to helping its students develop into well-rounded individuals who are prepared intellectually, socially, and mentally for their careers and future lives after graduation,” said Kristen Asplin, PhD, assistant professor of psychology and advisor to the Psi Chi honor society. “This film, and many other programs and activities on campus, are designed to help students learn how to better maintain and increase their mental and physical health.”

For example, Sheila Confer, EdD, director of the Academic Village, and Gayle Pamerleau, director of the campus counseling center, are team-teaching a wellness and resilience course that is part of a National Institute of Health (NIH) funded study being done by a Pitt researcher at UPMC Children’s Hospital. The course and activities can be adapted for students from kindergarten through college-level and are designed to teach skills everyone can use throughout their lives.

Lori Jakiela, professor of English and creative writing, is offering a series of classes that explore the concept of writing as a healing art. Students will discover the many ways writing nonfiction can shape and make sense of their experiences while offering new pathways to personal growth. The first class in the series focuses on writing and reading about childhood.

"We've added these kinds of courses to give our students new ways to see that creativity can help them live deeper, more engaged lives. Reading and writing about shared human experience nurtures empathy, which is so important,” explained Jakiela. “Creativity, not just through writing but in all its many forms, is one of the greatest and most human gifts. It helps us connect to each other and to our own best selves." 

In addition to these classes and activities, the campus counseling center is open daily and also offers information and programming to help students adjust to campus life, deal with homesickness, develop methods of dealing with stress, and other issues.

Facts from Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER include:

  • Since 2011, there has been a 59% increase in teens reporting depressive symptoms;
  • Scientific data shows that 2+ hours a day on social media correlates with a higher chance of having unhappy feelings;
  • Teens say their main way of coping with stress is to turn to a screen—this is concerning for many reasons and we need to ensure they have other coping skills;
  • Some schools are implementing innovative programs, such as wellness clubs, where teens teach their peers essential communication skills, like conflict resolution and relationship building;
  • State of the art therapies, including mindfulness, exposure therapy, and behavior activation, are being used to successfully treat anxiety and depression and yet many teens and adults don’t know that these proven interventions exist;
  • When teens suppress emotions, research shows it negatively impacts  their school work and other cognitive tasks;
  • Just like toddlers’ brains are primed to learn languages, teenage brains are primed for learning skills to navigate complicated emotions;
  • A recent study shows that when parents jump in, their stress goes down but their kid’s stress goes up;
  • Why it’s important to help teens get comfortable feeling uncomfortable;
  • Forward-thinking, concrete solutions for parents, counselors, and educators.

Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER shows many ways parents, counselors, and educators can help teens build crucial skills for navigating stress, anxiety, and depression. Some of the featured experts in the film include:

  • Daniel Pine, MD, Chief Psychiatrist, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • Dan Siegel, MD, Director, Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA
  • Drs. John and Julie Gottman, Founders, The Gottman Institute
  • Ronald E. Dahl, MD, Chief Science Officer, Center on the Developing Adolescent at UC Berkeley
  • Laura Kastner, Ph.D., Psychologist and author, Wise-Minded Parenting
  • Ned Johnson, Co-author of The Self-Driven Child
  • Adriana Galvan, Ph.D., Chair, Behavioral Neuroscience UCLA
  • Lynn Lyons, MSW, Author, Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents

About the Filmmaker

Delaney Ruston is a filmmaker, Stanford-trained physician, and mother of two. Before directing Screenagers and Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER, she made several award-winning films through her company, MyDoc Productions, including a documentary about her father, Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia, and Hidden Pictures: A Personal Journey into Global Mental Health. Both films aired on PBS and were the focus of national campaigns to raise awareness about mental health, including with the World Health Organization.  Delaney has been invited to screen her films and be a guest presenter to hundreds of audiences worldwide, from school-age children to The United Nations, Google, Facebook, Harvard, and TEDX.

Delaney began studying filmmaking as an agent for social change throughout her education at Cornell, Stanford (for medical school), and the University of California, San Francisco (for residency). As a UCSF Research Fellow in Ethics and Communication, she dove deeper into filmmaking. While on the faculty at the University of Washington, she participated in a National Endowment for The Arts funded filmmaking program. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to make films in India. Former faculty and Filmmaker in Residence at Stony Brook Medical Center, she created films that explore the intersection of health and society. Delaney has been providing care in underserved clinics for 15 years in Seattle, WA.


Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER was funded in part by FAST (Funders for Adolescent Science Translation), which is comprised of The Annie E Casey Foundation. The Bezos Family Foundation. The Raikes Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, The Ford Foundation, The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, and The National Public Education Support Fund.


Publication Date

Friday, February 7, 2020 - 14:30