Matt Gehrett sees the issue of families and personal technology as an educator and a parent—how the same mobile devices that open us to a universe of knowledge isolate us from the people and the world around us.

Having been there himself, Gehrett, Ed.D., director of the M.A. in educational technology program at Fresno Pacific University, is inspired to help others. One way is Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age, a documentary film that will be shown at FPU campuses in Merced, Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield January-April. Each free screening will include a discussion between audience members and Gehrett and Melanie Lewis, director of the FPU M.A. in teacher librarian services program. Space is limited, so please register at FPU.edu/screenagers.

“As a father of a 20-year-old, 18-year-old and a 16-year-old, I have faced the challenges of the cell phone and the distractions that it has added to 21st-century family life,” Gehrett said.

Setting family guidelines is helpful and has led to conversations on proper use and life balance. “Yet, even with consequences and conversations, the cell phone continues to be a 21st-century parenting challenge that is not for the faint at heart,” Gehrett said.

Sometimes parents have their own struggles. “When a cell phone is introduced into any of our lives, not just our teens, it can become a distraction and keep us from life-giving relationships,” Gehrett said.  

But these technologies are not going away. “My best advice is to keep up the good fight of modeling balance, proper use and encouraging our teenagers to develop positive habits,” Gehrett said. “And we need to start the conversation early, even before the teen years.”

Check out the Screenagers trailer at youtube.com/watch?v=LQx2X0BXgZg

See the film at:

  • 9:00 a.m. Saturday, January 20, FPU Bakersfield Campus, 11000 River Run Blvd., Suite 200, Bakersfield

  • 9:00 a.m. Saturday, February 24, FPU Visalia Campus, 245 N. Plaza Dr., Visalia

  • 9:00 a.m. Saturday, March 24, FPU Merced Campus, 105 W. El Portal Dr., Merced

  • 9:00 a.m. Saturday, April 14, FPU Main Campus, 1717 S. Chestnut Ave., Fresno