Report: 50% of Young People Feel Addicted to Their Devices

A new documentary titled Screenagers is garnering national attention for its investigation of how technology is impacting the parenting and development of children.

The film is now showing throughout the country as more and more research is being conducted on the effects of screen time. A Common Sense Media report recently found that half of all young people feel they are addicted to their device, while almost 60 percent of adults think their kids are addicted.

“This is all about teaching kids self-control,” said filmmaker Delaney Ruston in an interview with PBS, “and what we’ve learned through the research is that it’s absolutely teachable. So I would really discourage a family from giving a child a device when they don’t feel like they’re going to be able to control themselves from when they use it.”

Through her research, Ruston learned that there were organic chemicals in the body that were notably activated in kids and teenagers when they look at screens. She said that made her realize she needed to be more hands-on in her parenting

“I mean, it’s amazing that there’s many studies that look at MRI scans of the brain of kids who play a lot of video games, 20 hours or more of video games a week,” she said. “And when they compare them to people who are addicted to, say, drugs or alcohol, their brain scans are similar. So, something is really happening on a physiological level. It’s not just psychological.”

Because a third of parents and teens say they argue daily about screen time, Ruston emphasized that the main goal of the film is to encourage a discussion between parents and children at home.

“Once we [as parents] say we want to hear from [our kids], then they care,” Ruston said. “As opposed to what I see so often is this message of zero tolerance. Let’s just take everything away and get mad at you. That’s not going to get kids to open up and feel comfortable.”

To ensure that the movie is viewed with people kids know and trust, Screenagers is only available when a person, group, church, or community hosts a screening.

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