The forum is called This is Your Brain on Phones.

WESTFIELD, NJ – Cell phones have become increasingly more powerful devices, with more features than some adults know how to handle. 

So what happens when children get their hands on smartphones?

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Such will be the topic of 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.”

Marc Herzog, the owner of Papa Bear Digital Protection, will be among the experts to speak. 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 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 they can demonstrate their proper use, smartphones should not be allowed in children's bedrooms, he said. Instead, he recommends parents have their children use the devices in common spaces.

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-Fanwood, Westfield area,” Givelber said.

If you go

The free presentation at the Westfield Public Library, 550 East Broad St., Westfield, will be held at 7:00 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, 908-301-9622, ext. 240, or Tracy Crane at Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA at, 908-889-8880, ext. 116.