Doc screening Tuesday delves into tech's impact on young brains
Average teenager spends 6.5 hours a day staring at screens
A documentary that looks at the impact of screen time on children and teenagers is being presented in Ottawa to get families talking about the consequences of spending too much time on cellphones, tablets and computers.
Screenagers is an award-winning documentary by filmmaker Delaney Ruston, who's also a physician and a mother of two. It's showing at Fisher Park Public School in the city's west end Wednesday evening at 7PM.
"It's very much a personal endeavour, because as a mom with two young teens, I was finding there was so much stress in our home," New York-based Ruston told Ottawa Morning host Hallie Cotnam Tuesday.
Research shows the average amount of screen time for teenagers is six and a half hours per day, according to Ruston. That can impact a teen's ability to stay on task, and in extreme cases, can lead to internet addiction.
"My real concern is that they're missing out on opportunities for other types of activities. So that's why the film really looks at what are limits we should have for kids, and how do we help them to have it?" said Ruston.
'We're all working in this together'
So she recommends families have conversations about setting limits and prioritizing activities like homework, face-to-face interaction, and sleep.
For parents, that can mean stepping outside their comfort zones while talking frankly and honestly with their kids.
"Rather than be reactive as we are, and frustrated with our kids ... [we should] start weekly short talks on technology in our lives, and for parents to pick perhaps one or two things that they want to gain balance around, and say this to their kids," she said.
"Recognize that we're all working in this together, as opposed to the old-fashioned paradigm of parent knows best."
Screenagers has screened at schools and community events all over North America.