Biased, and full of flaws:
Here I am going to be listing all of the flaws of this film, because there are so many. I will be touching on each topic discussed on here, and I will mention things that I discussed with my fellow classmates.
The intent of this documentary was to show the potential dangers of technology and social media on a child (teenager). They featured multiple teen, teacher, doctor, and parent interviews touching on the topic.
Fault #1 - Bias:
This documentary holds a very strong bias that “tech is bad for teens” and fails to acknowledge ANY sort of positive factor that technology plays in modern life. They present teens to be these mindless beings who have no control over themselves whatsoever, and that technology controls them. The theme of this bias will follow into all other categories.
Fault #2 - Interviews:
There were a lot of interviews conducted in the making of this film. The problem with these interviews is that they all lean towards the bias, or paint the picture of teenagers being helpless and brainwashed by their iPhones. All of these interviews could easily warp a parent’s or child’s perception on the modern world, because it makes them believe “Man, all teens must act like this when they get an iPhone.”
The parent interviews only added fuel to the fire. They only interviewed parents who’s kids have had problems with technology, and not any parents who’s kids are perfectly fine with their iPhone. It makes the parent viewer automatically assume “I will have these problems too if I give my kid a phone.”
Fault #3 - Statistics and Experiments:
There are many statistics and facts littered around this film... but where did they come from?
Sometimes this documentary throws around random percentages or facts that are unsourced. We don’t know where the statistics came from, what test was conducted in order to get it, who was tested (age demographic), and where this test took place. Of course they show those sources for some of the experiments, but not for all of them.
There were all sorts of faults in the experiments that were conducted and shown too, and can easily be picked out. For example take the swimsuit/sweater experiment. They were testing the effect of social media and body positivity. The girls in the swimsuit performed poorly on the math test they were given than the girls in the sweaters. But what factors they didn’t acknowledge were parental influence on body positivity, previous academic success, whether the teens learned the information or not, the difficulty of the test, the teens just feeling uncomfortable in the sense of being cold or hot, or the teens feeling physically comfortable with the material they’re wearing (itchy/too tight/hurts), whether math is their best subject or not, etc.
Fault #4 - Mental Health Concerns:
The documentary tries to show that technology/SM causes and worsens mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and body dysphoria.
As someone with diagnosed anxiety, depression and body dysphoria, I can say that technology did not cause those mental illnesses, or even make them worse. Not only are my illnesses genetic, but they were caused by parental pressure and neglect (mental abuse). If anything, technology became a source that I could turn to when I needed help, whether it was a text to a friend or a depression hotline, it helped.
And if anything, SM and technology encouraged me to take better care of myself, and gave me advice on how to do so.
The documentary completely ignores these factors and just brushes it off to be the iPhone’s fault.
Fault #5 - “The Contract” and restrictions:
For kids who are in junior high and younger I agree that some guidelines should be put into place when it comes to technology, but not too many. An iPhone is a responsibility that the kid needs to learn to manage. Demanding that you monitor everything your child does, and looking through everything they send is a violation of privacy, but also teaches your kid that they have no safe space to vent, and that they have no privacy whatsoever.
My parents used to go through my iPad and delete everything, and it gave me the idea that I cannot have any sort of privacy or personal collection of my interests. If anything their restrictions of demanding to look through everything makes me not want to show them anything, or tell them anything.
Yes you can be aware of what your kid does, but don’t control what they do. I think that an iPhone is a step towards young adulthood and responsibility that the kid needs to learn how to manage.
The contract that they sign in that film was forced upon the kid without any agreement on her side, and if I were her it would give me the sense that I’m not allowed any sort of freedom.
Fault #6 - Scripting and filmography:
Some scenarios and interviews in the documentary are so obviously scripted and staged to follow the director’s agenda. If you were to take a look at an average modern high school, you’d notice that this documentary’s representations paint a false picture of teen life. Sure we use phones for a lot, but most of the time they’re used for study tools, contact with parents, making plans with friends, and keeping up with school events and news.
In the classroom you’d notice that barely anybody has their phones out because they’re more focused on their grades and getting through the year so they can succeed.
Not only that, but no one says anything like the teens say in the documentary. I’ve never heard anyone say such stereotypical phrases in average discussions of technology.
Fault #7 - Positive things this film failed to recognize:
I will present a list of things that technology is good for in a teen’s life.
•Studying: there are many study sources online that can help further a teen’s academic ability
•Current events: teens can stay updated with news and events and start discussions based off of what they find
•Help: If teens feel suicidal, depressed, anxious, etc. they can turn to a hotline for help, or quickly call up a friend if they need help
•Creativity: artistic and musical kids can create wonders on technology, and practice their skills anytime they want to
•Safety: letting a kid carry their phone means that they have a tool for emergency services if they ever need it
•Curiosity: there are sites out there that let kids indulge in their curious minds, and maybe even encourage them to try something new
•School: students use technology for almost all of their papers and projects, and it’s a tool that can help them work easier and learn from mistakes that they may make
•Happiness: teens can find new shows or musical artists/YouTubers/blogs that encourage them to be who they are, and make them laugh and smile when they desperately need it
•Reading: Instead of spending a lot of money on hard copies of book, you can buy them for way cheaper on a kindle/kindle app and teens can still enjoy books during their down time
•Escape: If kids are having a bad day or need to drown out the bad things that are happening at home/in public, teens can use their devices as a way to calm themselves down (especially in abusive households)
•A general tool for aid: if you’re a musician you can download tuners and metronomes. If you’re hoping to lose weight you can follow along with exercise videos online. If you’re an artist you can look up references and tips on how to draw. If you’re a baker, you can look up recipes and tips.
I hope my review helped you learn something, and encouraged you to not fall into the trap obviously set by the director of this documentary.