Increased Screen Time May Be Damaging to Teens’ Health

Young people have turned to digital devices to fill holes left by the COVID-19 pandemic—a practice that elevates depression, anxiety, and hopelessness, suggests a California study. “Our kids weren’t built to live their lives chained to supercomputers,” says Jennifer Siebel Newsom, founder of the California Partners Project, who co-wrote the study with the Child Mind Institute. “COVID has really shown us how damaging this new normal is to our kids’ mental health.”

Last March, when schools closed, students were forced to stay home. “What many teens initially embraced as a short, unexpected school break has become an extended trip to new territory,” the study says. Teens’ new existence is “plagued by loss,” says Harold Koplewicz of the Child Mind Institute, “the loss of school, the loss of social experience, the loss of academic accomplishment, the loss of extracurricular activities, [and] the loss of freedom.” They try to make up for that loss by accessing their devices.

Supporting Systemically Marginalized Students in a Pandemic

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has released a new report and guide for school district leaders: “Exploring Intersectionality: Understanding Student Identity to Promote Equitable Social, Emotional, Cognitive, and Academic Development During and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic.” NCLD reports that the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately impacting students from systemically marginalized communities, including students with disabilities, students of color, and students from low-income families. The economic, social, and learning challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic reinforce knowledge—including from the science of learning and development—about how important it is to ensure that all students experience belonging, safety, and support in order to learn. The resource explores how to affirm students’ identities to promote equitable social, emotional, cognitive, and academic development during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as provides actions that families and district leaders can take. Launches New AI-Powered e-Reader Site announced the launch of its flagship e-reader site, an online book application that harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) and technology to help learners read better. The site allows users to access a dictionary search; highlighting, bookmarking, and annotating features; in addition to shareable quotes and one-click pronunciations. also offers new tech-driven capabilities—like an AI bot that allows readers to ask questions about any site-supported book in English and view answers in real time. The site also features a capability that allows users to read out loud into a microphone while a translation appears on their screens. The site currently supports these features across seven different languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Polish, and French.

NYICFF Announces New Online Film Education Program

The New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) is expanding its signature film education program—FilmEd—to launch as a free online program serving K–8 classrooms nationwide. NYICFF has crafted three FilmEd Classroom experiences of short live-action, documentary, and animated films from a diverse group of U.S. and international filmmakers. The programs amplify stories from people of color, highlighting the individual filmmakers and voices behind the stories. Film-specific lesson plans and discussion guides support teachers in leading meaningful activities and conversations that expand their students’ understanding as they share observations, ideas, and experiences with one another.
For more information on FilmEd, visit

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