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Responses to Q&A for It’s a Balancing Act: Technology and Today’s Youth (Screenagers Documentary Panel Discussion)

By Adebisi Adebowale, MS posted 08-08-2020 16:01

During our session for NASN2020 Screenagers: It's a Blaancing Act panel, we weren't able to get to all the questions during the live Q&A. So here are a few more responses to the questions that was asked by the live audience.  

Question: Can you address how we can help support the mental health struggles of school-aged students that challenged by digital technology over usage?

Answer: Have open and honest dialogue with your students. Not just once, but as often as needed and at every opportunity. School-aged students like open, honest, and transparent conversation where you're raw and genuine with them - even to the point of sharing your own success and failures so they can see themselves in you / your similarities. When working with children (young developing minds), we have to keep in mind the person who spends the most time - dare I say - wins! When an adult of influence, as I like to call us (be it a school nurse, parent, principal, etc) spends time to nurture or invest into a child whether it's a good or bad influence, that'll have lasting effects on the child and who they remember. Unfortunately, there are times when technology wins the "battle of attention" of a child because s/he doesn't have a positive role model to reach out to him/her and to interject when they're going the wrong way. In summary, have an open door policy with your students. Let them know you're there to speak with them, but don't simply wait for them to come running to you. Engage in small talk / rapport building with them so that they see you're available to support them. 

Question: How can we reach out to students, young adults and parents that seem to be resistant to changing their behaviors and views on screen time and mental health?

Answer: In the marketing world, we're taught that it takes a potential customer seven impressions of a product or service before they are comfortable to purchase such an item. In as much, in order to convince someone of anything, there needs to be repetition of the same thing so they understand its importance, just as a student learning in school and going home to study. It will not be a one off encounter of hearing this message for most people. There must be repetition to master the subject. Students, young adults and parents of all ages need to continuously hear this message in order for them to understand the severity of too much screen time.

Question: You mentioned self-care, but how can a school nurse focus on self-care with all that is going on in light of COVID, preparing for re-entry to schools, and/or continuing online learning? It just seems overwhelming and not enough time for me to think about myself. Please advise on how I could find some balance?

Answer: When there's too much pressure continuously built up time over time, things explode. This is applicable to people. When people have too much going on and not letting off "steam," that same pressure, they explode and sometimes it comes off to people who are innocent bystanders of their built up frustrations. In order to prevent a breakdown, anger, animosity, or any other negative emotion, school nurses, just like everyone else, need a personal haven they can run and escape to. Whether it's building a community of school nurses who you can vent and share ideas among, going to conferences like NASN throughout the year, or literally taking a weekend to not answer any calls or texts but simply just be, you must do what bests you to keep moving forward, breathing, eating well. Please do not look at self-care as you being selfish, but rather as you taking care of yourself so that you can take care of others. 

Question: How can I build rapport with the teenagers in my school to help facilitate honest dialogue in order to give them the assistance they might need?

Answer: Be honest with them every single time you speak. Teenagers can miraculously see through fakeness / phonies. They have a tendency to give off that they're not listening or care what you speak about, but believe me when I say they hold onto every word. Because of the advancement of technology and the way it causes teenagers to seem more grown up than they are, people tend to forget that teenagers are in fact still children - who are simply like sponges. They take in all you say. So be honest and genuine, all while giving them a listening ear when they are ready to vent and open up to you. 

Question: How can you address situations where children who have to spend time with a different parent on the weekend due to custody issues, etc. also have different rules in each house that sends a different message, regarding social media, screen-time, etc.?

Answer: A discussion needs to happen between the shared parents - not one parent to the child, so they can tell the other parent. It won't work that way. The adults need to be the adults and decide upon solid ground rules with each other so that they set the tone and not the child you're parenting. If it's a matter of custody issues that may need to be agreed upon in the court of law, then you may need to have it addressed within your custody terms.