Forbes | Keith Wagstaff

In the new documentary  Screenagers, kids can’t stop playing with their phones. It’s a problem many parents face —including director Delaney Ruston, a physician serving as Stony Brook Medicine’s filmmaker in residence.

“My son wanted to play more video games and my daughter was always on social media,” Ruston told me in an interview. “I was at a loss. I found myself getting mad at them and then feeling guilty.”

Her kids aren’t the only ones glued to their devices. According to Common Sense Media, teens spend nearly nine hours a day in front of a screen. That includes the TV, which kids watch while doing their homework or messaging each other on social media, and their phones and tablets.

Adults can get addicted to social media too, of course. I checked both my Instagram and Facebook FB +0.92% feeds while watching the film. (Sorry, Delaney!) But teenage brains release dopamine with abandon. It’s not a coincidence that your 16-year-old seems so dramatic. When their device buzzes and they see a “Like,” they get a rush from it that most adults don’t, making it harder for them to put their phones away.

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