Tuesday night’s showing of the film Screenagers
, hosted by the Clairbourn Families Association, provided some real food for thought. In Screenagers, filmmaker and physician Dr. Delaney Ruston set out to study the impact of digital devices on young people and to explore ways of achieving balance in using these devices.
Two of the biggest questions facing parents today are; how worried should they be about the amount of time their children spend looking at screens, and how much should they police their children's screen time? These questions need good answers.
After the screening, parents and students shared their thoughts, experiences, and family strategies for managing the use of devices. Many parents felt that the addictive quality of digital interaction, especially gaming, requires conscious limits and controls. Parents also expressed concerns over the constant checking of text messages, news flashes, Facebook posts, and a whole host of social media channels used by their children and teens. At the end of the discussion, moderator Dr. Kim Elsesser advised parents to check out the "Resources" tab on the screenagers website
which offers specific strategies for device management.
My own take-away thoughts from the film are that digital media devices offer new and positive capabilities, but they have unintentional consequences that must be considered and mitigated. When devices cause us to be cut off from our families and those closest to us, something must be done. Without conscious limits, we’ll become more and more isolated. We need to harness screen-technology in a positive way instead of being unwittingly under its addictive control.
The film serves as a motivator for all of us to check our daily priorities. Are we making the best use of our time? Do we respond to things carefully and thoughtfully, or are we merely reacting to every update on our screens? Do we find ourselves withdrawing into our devices rather than giving appropriate attention and focus to the here-and-now?
Screen-based devices are tools which we can use productively. Like a new car that we enjoy driving, we know when to get out of it and turn it off so we can do other things. We really wouldn’t want to LIVE in our cars. Nor should we LIVE in our digital devices.