Kids and teens today can’t get enough of the Internet and mobile devices. If you’re worried seeing your children scroll down life with their fingers tapping away at the speed of light, you’re not alone: children spend more time looking at their screen than they spend sleeping or at school or with family and friends. And to be honest, we parents aren’t setting a good example either. And that’s what this latest documentary, Screenagers bring our attention to.
Screen Time Addiction – How’s it Rewiring Children’s Minds
According to the research done in the film, an average kid spends more than 6.5 hours looking on the phone screen a day. The movie starts with a 13-year old girl asking her parents to get a smartphone- a situation faced by most parents and a majority would think that getting your kids a smartphone is not that bad. But what most of us don’t consider is how soon is too soon to get your kids a smartphone. The director and researcher of the film, Dr. Delaney Ruston, says that kids at this age are not wired to self-regulate at this age and the worst thing parents can do is hand-over smartphone and hope for the best. It doesn’t work that way. Dr. Delany suggests that kids can’t responsibly use Internet without their parents’ active involvement.
Another study indicates that teens spend more than 9 hours on their mobile devices a day. While the film says teen boys spend more than 11.3 hours a week playing video games. The study also emphasizes on the negative impact this constant switching between online and offline worlds create on the young brains resulting in decreased attention spans and learning. The film also draws attention to fact that screen time results in releasing of a pleasure-producing chemical in young people’s brains that further makes them addicted to their phones and tabs.
Are Parents Any Less Guilty?
It’s not a one-faceted story: parents are guilty of excessive screen time, too. A British study shows that while 6 in 10 parents are worried that their kids spend too much time on their phones, 7 in 10 children say that their parents are the ones who are plugged in and tuned out. Are we setting a good example for them to follow? Can we expect them to put down their mobile device and reconnect with the reality when we’re also glued to our phones all the time? Are we spending enough family time? There needs to be some soul-searching on our part before we could think of solutions.
What Parents Can Do?
Screenagers film is perhaps best in telling stories of individuals struggling to use technology in a proper way. The film shows a grandmother learning to put limits on her granddaughter’s phone she’s raising. It shows how a girl battles depression after she gave in to her boyfriend’s pressure to send him her nude. Then there is a story of a college freshman who’s so addicted to video games that he stops going to class and there’s a boy who cheerily admits that he fools his parents into thinking that he only uses his mobile devices to do his homework.
All these stories seem so real and so relatable. They are very much like our own stories and yet we think very little about how continuous screen time can rewire our brain and affect our behavior. Like many other parenting experts, the researchers behind this documentary, Screenagers also suggest parent’s active involvement in monitoring and regulating their kids’ digital lifestyle. They suggest using parental controls like FamilyTime to put screen time locks and block distracting and age-inappropriate apps because teens would be teens and the temptation is too big to resist!