Earnest docu takes a critical look at screen time.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Screened Out is a documentary that explores screen time overuse, whether it's an addiction, and what effects it has on individuals and society. There are lots of strong messages about the damage that too much screen time can do to individuals and to society -- and about how the time parents spend in front of screens sends a powerful signal to kids. Cyberbullying, self-harm, and suicide are explored without direct depictions or gory details. An animation shows a cartoon rat getting an electric shock in an experiment. Brief footage of a video game shows animated shooting and blood splatter. Note: The film uses data from Common Sense Media studies about age-appropriate screen use, as well as an on-camera interview with Common Sense Media founder Jim Steyer.
Even better than expected
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Excellent film for the whole family!
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What's the Story?
SCREENED OUT takes a hard look at people's use -- and overuse -- of smartphone technology. Many of us use social media and games that clamor for our attention and take up more and more of our time. Is spending so much time looking at screens a true addiction? Even if it's not, the film argues that it's worth taking a close look at the effects that so much screen time has on us as individuals and as a society. Interviews with experts and ordinary users alike show the impact that technology has on adults, teens, and even the littlest kids. The film's hope is that if we understand the problems and drawbacks of too much screen time, we can learn how to make the best use of the technology while still participating fully in the real world.
Is It Any Good?
This earnest documentary takes an unflinching look at people's use of smartphones and tablets, coming to the conclusion that too much screen time is bad for society, families, and individuals. Through interviews with experts, conversations with ordinary people, and scientific and academic research, Screened Out shows exactly how apps -- especially social media and gaming apps -- draw users into their screens and keep them there. Viewers also make personal connections to people who've struggled with screen addiction, people who are just trying to cut back a little bit, and people who've been damaged by their obsessions.
Director Jon Hyatt has a definite point of view, and he doesn't attempt to debate the question of whether too much screen time is good or bad. Instead, he makes sure to drive his point -- it's bad -- home with an engaging mix of data, statistics, and people's real experiences. Some points he makes come pretty close to scare tactics, like when tech company motivations and growth strategies are discussed. Think of watching Screened Out as a great opportunity for adults especially, to carefully examine their own screen use and the example they're setting. It's also an excellent starting point for families to talk about priorities, relationships with others, and strategies for bringing balance and mindfulness to their technology use.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Screened Out examines the effects of screen time. Do you agree that it's harmful? Why or why not? Did you learn anything that surprised you?
If you have a smartphone, do you feel addicted to it? Would you be willing to try to limit your screen time, or change the way you use it, in the interests of digital well-being? What are some strategies you can try?
If you have a smartphone or tablet, does it have an app for tracking screen time? Do you use it? If you don't use it, estimate how much time you think you spent looking at your screen today, and compare your guess with the data from the app. Were you close?
- On DVD or streaming: May 26, 2020
- Director: Jon Hyatt
- Studio: Dark Star Pictures
- Genre: Documentary
- Run time: 71 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 7, 2022
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