Community members from around Irvine gathered in Northwood’s Performing Arts Theater for a showing of the documentary “Screenagers” on Feb. 20.
As the name implies, “Screenagers” discusses the impact of digital screens on the lives of teenagers, portraying the challenges that families face navigating the digital world.
“The PTSA parents heard about the movie and were interested in showing it,” Principal Leslie Roach said. “We all agree that the age of many types of screens is new territory and I think parents and educators alike want to ensure that we are doing the best possible for our kids.”
The documentary included several family stories about the strain that technology has caused in their lives. The average child spends 6.5 hours a day looking at screens, not including schoolwork time. The concern is what are they looking at and how is it impacting their brains.
Many girls interviewed in the documentary said that they were constantly posting pictures because they wanted to get likes. Boys said they primarily used their screen time to play video games, often filled with violent content.
“When we grew up, we didn’t have all of this social media,” Irvine parent Emma Steinmetz said. “Unfortunately our kids are guinea pigs right now and we don’t know what the long term effects are.”
Students who watched the film still plan on using their phones regularly, but many said it opened their eyes to the impact screens have on their brain development.
“I am glad I went,” senior Simran Bajaj said. “I gained a more balanced view of technology.”
After the screening, a panel discussion was hosted where Irvine police officers and school counselors discussed the topics addressed in the documentary. The discussion was then opened up to parents and audience members to ask questions.
“Students are more powerful than they think,” Irvine School Resource Officer Rick Gramer said. “Teenagers today are at a point where they recognize [the challenge], so now it’s going to be up to them to make the change.”