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The Screenagers Podcast

Author: Delaney Ruston, MD

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Join Delaney Ruston, MD, a leading authority on parenting in the digital age and the filmmaker of the award-winning Screenagers movies, as she explores strategies for raising screen-wise and tech-balanced youth. Through interviews with researchers, thought leaders, and young people themselves, The Screenagers Podcast delivers the latest in science along with practical tips and important insights that parents will want to share with their kids and teens.
38 Episodes
How do we get our kids to make healthier choices when it comes to resisting junk food, smoking, or social media? In today’s podcast episode, Dr. Ruston talks with David Yeager, a leading researcher in the science of youth behavior change, motivation, and the power of mindsets, which are essentially our beliefs. Yeager studies show what happens when youth — who don’t like to be manipulated —  are taught about companies’ manipulative tactics. This episode also features segments from our movie, Screenagers Under the Influence, which address the impacts of deceptive marketing by e-cigarette companies like Juul. This episode is intended for adult and youth audiences.  Featured Expert David Yeager, PhD   Research References Harnessing adolescent values to reduce unhealthy Snacking (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) Values-Alignment Messaging Boosts Adolescents' Motivation to Control Social Media Use (Child Development)   Additional links Book: "10 to 25, The Science of Motivating Young People," by David S. Yaeger ‍Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising  Robert Jackler, MD Movie: Screenagers Under The Influence The Influence of the National truth® Campaign on Smoking Initiation   Time code 00:00 Introduction to Screenagers Podcast 00:36 The Art and Science of Communicating with Teens 01:22 Interview with Researcher David Yeager 02:26 Screenagers Under the Influence: Vaping and Juul 06:44 The Junk Food Industry's Manipulative Tactics 19:04 Impact of Anti-Smoking Campaigns 21:56 Conclusion and Call to Action  
How can the big and little “t” traumas parents have experienced in their lives negatively impact their parenting around screen time? In this episode, Dr Ruston engages in a profound conversation with therapist Dr. David Johnson, who was the CEO of one of Seattle’s leading mental health providers, Navos, and has 48 years of experience in individual and family therapy. Dr. Johnson provides a unique perspective on common ways past traumas show up in parent-child struggles, whether over video gaming, social media, or other areas.  Dr. Ruston courageously opens up about how some of her past traumas impacted her parenting. Throughout the episode, Delaney and David offer listeners many strategies to help prevent their past adversities from sabotaging their current parenting efforts. This episode is intended for adult audiences.   Featured Expert David Johnson Ed.D LMHC   Show Notes: 00:00 Introduction: The Impact of Parental Trauma on Parenting 01:16 Meet Dr. David Johnson: Insights on Trauma and Parenting 02:10 Understanding Trauma: Definitions and Effects 04:57 Trauma Responses and Their Impact on Behavior 08:15 Screen Time Conflicts: Analyzing Parental Reactions 10:41 The Power of Insight and Intention in Overcoming Trauma 27:58 Family Dynamics and Counseling: Strategies for Healing 30:32 Conclusion and Invitation to Engage
Is social media, smartphones, and the sheer amount of time that young people are on screens really the main reason for the rise in mental health problems of today’s youth? On today’s episode, we delve into this pressing issue with Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist, and author of the current New York Times bestselling book, "The Anxious Generation". His insights provide a clear and compelling explanation of why this indeed is likely the case. Beyond just correlational studies, what do actual experiments show us about the link between teen mental health and screen time? Why is the time of puberty particularly concerning when it comes to handing over smartphones and social media? Why does social media seem to impact girls more negatively than boys? These are just some of the questions that today’s episode addresses. In addition, Haidt offers two solutions for improving teen mental health. This episode is not just for adults but also for teens who are directly affected by these issues. Of note, suicidal ideation is mentioned briefly in the episode.  Featured Expert Jonathan Haidt, PhD Research References Links to research discussed in the episode Additional Links  The Anxious Generation by Jonathan Haidt Time Code 00:00 Introduction to The Screenagers Podcast 00:23 Meet Jonathan Haidt, Author and Social Psychologist 01:29 The Anxious Generation: Key Insights 02:06 Impact of Social Media on Mental Health 03:52 Gender Differences in Mental Health Trends 05:57 Correlational and Experimental Studies on Screen Time 09:04 The Natural Experiment of Facebook's Rollout 12:31 The Hidden Dangers of Social Media 16:59 Aggression and Social Cruelty Online 19:25 Proposed Solutions and Parental Involvement 21:21 Conclusion and Resources
In today’s episode, Dr. Delaney Ruston talks with author Peggy Orenstein about a media-fueled risky sexual practice that is happening among some teens today — choking, also called sexual strangulation. Orenstein, who has spent many years researching sexuality among youth for her books “Girls and Sex” and “Boys and Sex,” investigated the topic of sexual choking for a New York Times article that was published last month. Today, Orenstein shares some of her findings from that investigation, including the influence of pornography and other media on this new trend.  What are the psychological and physical risks of this practice? And what are ways to have productive conversations with young people on this and related topics? This episode also includes a 19-year-old discussing her concerns about sexual choking. This episode is intended for adult audiences.  Featured Expert Peggy Orenstein Research References The Troubling Trend in Teen Sex -New York Times Article by Peggy Orenstein What is rough sex, who does it, and who likes it? Findings from a probability sample of US undergraduate students (Archives of Sexual Behavior) Additional Links  Yes Your Kid: What Parents Need to Know about Today’s Teens and Sex, by Debby Herbenick Sex, Teens, and Everything in Between,  by Shafia Zaloum Want Me by Tracy, by Clark Flory Girls and Sex, by Peggy Orenstein  Boys and Sex, by Peggy Orenstein Time Code 00:00 Introduction to the Screenagers Podcast 00:17 The Shocking Reality of Choking in Sexual Encounters Among Youth 01:18 Mainstream Media's Role in Normalizing BDSM and Choking 02:02 Insightful Conversation with Peggy Ornstein on Sexual Strangulation 05:42 The Alarming Data on Choking Among College Students 07:42 The Influence of Media and Social Media on Sexual Behavior 13:24 Addressing the Risks and How to Talk About Them 20:56 Empowering Youth to Speak Out and Advocate for Safety 24:12 Concluding Thoughts and Resources for Challenging Conversations
In today’s episode, Dr. Delaney Ruston talks with Casey O’Roarty, Med., who is a well-recognized expert in Positive Discipline, particularly when it comes to tweens and teens. She is the author of Joyful Courage and the host of the Joyful Courage podcast and has spent over 15 years working with families. In this episode, Casey provides real-life anecdotes about when kids sneak screen time when they have meltdowns and other behaviors, and she explores fostering curiosity, addressing meltdowns, and finding the delicate balance between having firmness while fostering a strong parent-child relationship.  In addition, another guest, a mother of three kids,  shares her experience with ditching her old parenting ways to adopt the Positive Discipline approach. Show Notes Casey O’Roarty’s website  
Sometimes, gaming is not all fun and games. Foul words and degrading comments are all too common when kids and teens play video games together. From first-person shooter games like Call of Duty to building games like Minecraft and Roblox, competitive banter can be ugly. In this episode, Dr Ruston talks with Dr. Kishonna Gray, assistant professor of digital studies at the University of Kentucky, who researches various human dynamics that occur during video gaming. Dr. Gray works with parents and youth on how to manage the hard parts of gaming culture and shares many insights and solutions on today’s show. A teen gamer adds thoughts as well. The episode is intended for adult and youth audiences.   EPISODE NOTES Featured Expert Kishona Gray
We're bringing back this episode today to help with the common arguments in the home about screen time and what to do. What is a parenting strategy that can promote healthy screen use, and other positive behaviors, while at the same time decrease fighting? In this episode of The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Delaney Ruston talks with one of her favorite parenting experts, Dr. Tammy Fisher Huson, about a strategy that has made a real difference in Dr. Ruston's own home. 
Parenting kids has always had challenges, but now, in the tech revolution, conflicts are at a new level. The good news is that research shows that conflicts done well have all sorts of benefits for youth. But how do we ensure healthier conflicts? On today’s episode, Dr. Ruston talks with Lisa Damour, Ph.D. psychologist and author of three New York Times best-selling books about adolescents, including “The Emotional Lives of Teenagers.” The episode explores teen psychology, common screen time arguments, and several approaches to having healthier conflicts. The episode is intended for adult and youth audiences. Featured Expert Lisa Damour Research References The role of music in adolescents' mood regulation (Sage Journal) Extreme Metal Music and Anger Processing (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience) The appeal of sad music: A brief overview of current directions in research on motivations for listening to sad music (The Arts in Psychotherapy) Additional Links  Lisa Damour’s website  The Ask Lisa Podcast Books by Lisa Damour: Untangled Under Pressure  The Emotional Lives Of Teenagers  
Concerns over Snapchat use by its many young users seem to be discussed much less than concerns over TikTok and Instagram. Yet, issues with Snapchat are plenty — be it social conflicts or the sexually explicit material that can be seen on the app. In today's episode, Dr. Ruston discusses these topics and more with a high school boy and a young woman in college. The guests discuss problems created by the App's Snapscore feature, which is a ranking given to users based on how many snaps they send or receive. In addition, they talk about social conflicts that can happen on the app, issues around sexual content, and suggestions to parents regarding when to allow the app and how to talk about it with kids.   Additional Links The birth of Snapchat How Snapchat defines Snapscore Snapchat’s Discover page and connection to Cosmo About OnlyFans  
In this episode, Dr. Delaney Ruston dives into the pressing issue of social media addiction through the story of one young person, Lars, and insights from the chief of addiction medicine at Stanford, Ana Lembke, MD, and longtime media researcher Douglas Gentile, PhD. Through Lar’s struggle with social media addiction, listeners gain an intimate look at the impact of social media on mental health and identity. The episode sheds light on the various ways compulsive social media use can impact a young person and delves into the science behind digital addiction. Ultimately, Dr. Ruston and her guests offer valuable tips on how to know when social media use is in the zone of a clinical addiction and, most importantly, how to help teens who are in that zone, or wobbling there, to break free.  Featured Experts Anna Lembke, MD Douglas Gentile, Ph.D. Additional Links Anna Lembke’s book, Dopamine Nation Lars May and Half The Story Time code of the episode 00:00 Introduction to Social Media Addiction 00:37 The Lawsuits Against Social Media Giants 01:47 Interview with Experts on Social Media Addiction 02:15 The Power of Social Media and Its Impact 04:19 The Journey of a Social Media Influencer 09:43 The Struggle with Mental Illness and Technology 11:11 The Science Behind Social Media Addiction 13:40 Understanding Addiction on a Spectrum 19:27 The Impact of Overabundance on Mental Health 20:19 Recovering from Social Media Addiction 24:54 Helping Others Overcome Social Media Addiction 25:33 Conclusion and Final Thoughts    
In this episode of The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Delaney Ruston talks to author and psychologist Dr. Kristin Neff, Ph.D.,  about the power of self-compassion. They discuss the prevalent issue of self-criticism among parents, particularly regarding screen time, and how adopting self-compassion can help navigate such challenges. Dr. Neff and Dr. Ruston share personal parenting experiences along the way.  The episode provides practical advice to help listeners, parents, and teens initiate their own self-compassion practice.   Featured Expert Kristin Neff, PhD   Research References Meeting Suffering With Kindness: Effects of a Brief Self-Compassion Intervention for Female College Students (Journal of Clinical Psychology)  Self-compassion and Psychological Resilience Among Adolescents and Young Adults (Self and Identity)  Development and Validation of the Self-Compassion Scale for Youth (Journal of Personality Assessment)  The Development and Assessment of a Scale to Measure Self Assessment  (Self and Identity) Time code of the episode 00:04 Introduction and Personal Reflections 00:26 Understanding Self Compassion 00:48 Interview with Kristin Neff 02:29 Exploring the Concept of Self Compassion 04:59 Applying Self Compassion in Personal Life 05:45 Challenges and Misconceptions about Self Compassion 07:08 Understanding Self Criticism 11:44 Applying Self Compassion in Parenting 12:45 Balancing Fierce and Tender Self Compassion 15:59 Growing Compassion through Personal Struggles 18:08 A Day at the Park: A Parent's Perspective on Autism 19:04 The Struggles of Parenting and the Power of Self-Compassion 20:26 Research Insights: Self-Compassion in Parenting Autistic Children 22:05 The Impact of Self-Compassion on Teens and Motivation 23:10 Practical Steps to Cultivate Self-Compassion 29:32 The Role of Self-Compassion in Authenticity and Relationships 31:58 Resources and Tools for Developing Self-Compassion 32:42 Conclusion: The Power of Self-Compassion in the Screen Age   Additional Links Dr. Kristin Neff’s Website    Two Books by Dr Neff: Self Compassion: The Proven Power Of Being Kind To Yourself Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive    
In this episode, Dr. Ruston tackles some of the thorniest screen time parenting issues with social worker Charlie Appelstein. Appelstein is the author of the popular book No Such Thing As A Bad Child. Using the framework of strength-based parenting, they explore strategies to help when youth break screen time rules and lie. They talk about creating fair consequences and what to do when teens are overly dismissive and mean to their parents.  With over 40 years of working with youth and parents, Appelstein has a wealth of effective interventions at his fingertips.   Featured Expert Charlie Appelstein, MSW   Time code of the episode 00:04 Introduction  01:15 Understanding Strength-Based Parenting 02:14 Applying Strength-Based Parenting in Real-Life Scenarios 02:38 Addressing the Issue of Chores and Screen Time 05:10 The Power of Positive Reinforcement 06:12 Dealing with Adolescent Anger and Separation 09:03 Setting Boundaries and Consequences 21:21 Understanding and Addressing Lying 25:57 Conclusion: The Power of Reframing and Strength-Based Parenting  
In this episode of The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Ruston focuses on the science behind teen risky decision-making, both online and offline. Dr. Ruston speaks with researchers who shed light on the latest brain science, helping us better understand the biology behind adolescents' decision-making processes. With insights from experts such as psychiatrist Dr. Anna Lembke and psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour, parents will glean practical advice on guiding their children toward wiser decisions and setting fair consequences for rule-breaking. EPISODE NOTES ‍Research References Adolescents’ Cognitive Capacity Reaches Adult Levels Prior to Their Psychosocial Maturity: Evidence for a “Maturity Gap” in a Multinational, Cross-Sectional Sample (Law and Human Behavior) Biological substrates of emotional reactivity and regulation in adolescence during an emotional go-nogo task (Biological Psychiatry)   Featured Experts Adriana Galvan, PhD Laurence Steinberg, PhD Lisa Damour, PhD Anna Lambke, MD Time code of the episode 00:04 Introduction and the Complexity of Decision Making 01:23 Understanding the Science Behind Teen Decision Making 02:55 The Role of Emotions in Decision Making 05:05 Real-life Consequences of Rash Decisions 06:17 The Neuroscience of Adolescence 07:38 The Impact of Emotions on Teenagers' Decision Making 10:30 Strategies for Parents to Help Teens Make Wiser Decisions 13:19 The Importance of Setting Limits and Fair Consequences 16:50 Understanding and Empathizing with the Challenges Teens Face 17:50 Conclusion: Encouraging Wise Decision Making
In this episode of The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Delaney Ruston explores the complex issue of weed use among teenagers in today's digital world. The discussion delves into how cannabis is portrayed and often glamorized on social media and the potential risks this poses to young people, including addiction and mental health concerns. The episode also sheds light on the cannabis industry’s lack of stringent regulation and the dangers of high THC products. Importantly, Dr. Ruston offers practical strategies for parents to engage in effective and meaningful conversations with their teens about cannabis use. Research References Potency levels of regulated cannabis products in Michigan 2021–2022  (Journal of Forensic Sciences)  Recent rapid decrease in adolescents’ perception that marijuana is harmful, but no concurrent increase in use  (Drug and Alcohol Dependence) Acute Mental Health Symptoms in Adolescent Marijuana Users (JAMA Pediatrics)   Featured Experts Sharon Levy, MD Pam Ling, MD   Additional Links Recovery support in general  Marajuana anonymous   Time code of the episode 00:04 Introduction to the Podcast 00:38 Teenagers' Perspective on Cannabis and Social Media 01:53 The Intersection of Cannabis Use and Screen Time 02:28 Medical Misconceptions about Cannabis 03:59 Personal Stories of Cannabis Use and Mental Health 04:19 The Risks of Cannabis Use for Mental Health 05:47 The Reality of Cannabis Addiction 09:26 The Impact of High THC Concentration in Cannabis 11:28 The Role of Vaping in Cannabis Use 12:33 The Need for Regulation in the Cannabis Industry 16:11 Strategies for Talking to Teens about Cannabis 18:52 Seeking Help for Cannabis Addiction 21:19 Personal Strategies for Decreasing Cannabis Use 22:27 Conclusion and Acknowledgements
On today's episode of The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Delaney Ruston dives into the world of teens, vaping, and the cunning tactics e-cigarette companies use on social media. We'll uncover the health hazards of vaping, examine how influencers glamorize it, and we will expose deceptive marketing strategies. Joining me are Dr. Pam Ling and Rob Jackler, featured in my latest film,  Screenagers Under The Influence: Addressing Vaping, Drugs, and Alcohol in the Digital Age. They shed light on vaping's dangers and the industry's slick ploys to lure in young people. I also discuss how to empower our youth to see through these manipulations and protect themselves from the vaping industry's grasp. Research References Young adult responses to COVID-19 themed tobacco and nicotine product marketing on social media (British Medical Journal).  #ecig: How Social Media is Changing the Ad Game (Johnson & Wales University) Effects of Social Media on Adolescents’ Willingness and Intention to Use E-Cigarettes: An Experimental Investigation    (Nicotine and Tobacco Research) New Approach to Decrease Smoking Among Young Adult Bar Patrons (Tobacco Induced Diseases) Time Code 00:04 Introduction to the Podcast 00:10 Understanding the Vaping Industry and Its Influence on Teens 00:36 The Role of Social Media in Promoting Vaping 01:55 The Misconceptions about Vaping and E-cigarettes 03:22 The Dangers of Vaping and E-cigarette Chemicals 06:09 The Deceptive Marketing Strategies of Vaping Companies 07:47 The Impact of Influencer Marketing on Vaping 11:50 Activism and Its Role in Combating Vaping 14:57 The Role of FDA and Regulatory Loopholes 19:54 Conclusion and Final Thoughts
In this episode of The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Delaney Ruston interviews journalist Dashka Slater about her new book, Accountable, where she writes about the true story of a social media account run by a small group of teens who posted racist memes. The account spread quickly and got edgier as it went. The book follows the account’s profound effect on the teens, friends, and high school. Dr. Ruston's interview with Slater dives into issues like what compels teens to do things they know are out of bounds, such as acts of racism, the difference between guilt and shame, and transformative justice. Slater discusses methods of communicating with children about preventing doing such acts, and Dr. Ruston provides strategies for them to use when they encounter friends who do, and shares advice for parents and teens on dealing with the repercussions of online racism and the complexities of forgiveness and empathy. Here is a link to Dashka Slater’s website, where you can find a link to her book and much more. Here is Slater’s Substack, where she has lesson plans, too.   00:04 Introduction and Overview 01:04 The Epidemic of Online Racism 01:43 Unveiling the Story of 'Accountable' 02:42 The Impact of Racist Online Activities 03:01 The Discovery and Consequences of the Racist Account 08:34 The Role of Video Games in Promoting Offensive Language 10:10 The Creation and Spread of the Racist Account 11:35 The Bystander Effect and Group Dynamics 18:52 The Impact on the Victims 21:38 Understanding Different Types of Justice 24:56 The Role of Restorative Justice in Schools 44:43 The Power of Forgiveness and Healing 47:11 Conclusion and Final Thoughts  
Today on The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Delaney Ruston discusses skillful ways to respond when your kids break the family tech rules.  One of the most challenging things for parents is knowing how to respond when kids break rules around screen time. Dr. Ruston talks about increasing the chances of kids following rules by getting collaborative input from them. 
Love Ambush

Love Ambush


Discover the powerful strategy of a "love ambush" and becoming a mental health warrior. In this episode of The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Delaney Ruston unveils the transformative impact of showing up unannounced to support those facing mental health challenges. Through personal stories and practical advice, Dr. Ruston unveils an approach to combatting isolation and building a caring team. 
Summer's heating up. In today's episode of The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Delaney Ruston explores how we can help teens have a better understanding of what makes up positive romantic relationships, including physical intimacy. In a past survey, teens between the ages of 14 and 17 were asked what sources help them understand sex. Thirty-one percent responded that helpful information was most likely to come from parents and 22 % said friends. Dr. Ruston says parents are a great resource if they want to take on this challenge and get better at it.  
In today’s episode of The Screenagers Podcast, Dr. Delaney Ruston shares recommendations for podcasts that you can listen to with your family this summer.  So why these recommendations? Well, one of the objectives of the Screenagers movement is finding ways to connect youth and adults for meaningful conversations, not just about tech in our lives, but ways to help build in our kids' critical thinking, empathy, communication skills, and Dr. Ruston is a strong believer that listening to podcasts together and then discussing them can be a really terrific way to do that. It's also a way to celebrate one of the pearls of our tech revolution: the ability of people to become podcasters and to share science, stories, advice, and more.