WESTFIELD, NJ – Cell phones have become increasingly more powerful devices, with more features than some brains can handle.

This is among the topics set for discussion at an upcoming talk at the Westfield Public Library. The forum, organized by the Fanwood/Scotch/Plains/Westfield Here 2 Help Mental Health Coalition, is entitled “This is Your Brain on Phones: Smartphone Overuse.”

Presenters will focus on how today’s technological revolution impacts people's psychological behavior and neurological systems, how screen time has changed how we think, act, react, learn and absorb information and the best practices for smartphone use from a health and well-being perspective, organizers said.

Sign Up for E-News

Sean Foley, a social worker at Prevention Links, a Union County nonprofit, which counters the negative impacts of substance abuse, will lead the forum with a discussion of the clinical aspects of cell phones' impact on the brain, the organizers said.

Tips on children's interaction with smartphones will be part of the discussion. Marc Herzog, the owner of Papa Bear Digital Protection, will lead that part of the talk. His company teaches parents how to guard against digital threats.

“Smartphones do provide many benefits to children in regard to organization and communication,” said Herzog, a Westfield resident. “But as with anything in life, moderation is key.”

Among his tips for parents when it comes to children's smartphone use are having parents roll out smartphone use gradually until children learn to use the devices primarily as a communication device.

“Text messaging is an accepted form of communication,” Herzog said. “I do not recommend, however, that a child automatically gets access to games and social media when a child first gets their mobile device.”

Until children can demonstrate their proper use, smartphones should not be allowed in the youths' bedrooms, he said. Instead, he recommends parents have their children use the devices in common spaces, Herzog said.

Roosevelt Intermediate School guidance counselor Kim Schumacher will also speak at the forum, the Here 2 Help Mental Health Coalition, announced.

The talk on cell phone overload is the first in a series of forums seeking to help inform the community of mental health resources available, said Mary Claire Givelber, Director of Community Engagement at the crisis hotline, Caring Contact, and a member of the Here 2 Help Mental Health Coalition.

“Last summer, we started thinking about different ways we could engage the community and bring them types of programming to make them aware of the mental health supports that are available in the Scotch Plains, Westfield area,” Givelber said.

If you go

The free presentation at the Westfield Public Library, 550 East Broad St., Westfield, will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 17. Registration is preferred. To register, visit the Eventbrite Page.

For more information on Here 2 Help, contact Bonnie Cohen at bcohen@westfieldynj.org, 908-301-9622, ext. 240, or Tracy Crane at tcrane@fspymca.org, 908-889-8880, ext. 116.

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh