Screened Out is a provocative look at screen and smartphone addiction and how the tech industry hooked global consumers, and continues to groom future generations of screen addicts. In this timely documentary, filmmaker Jon Hyatt explores all the ways in which we are addicted to our screens, how the tech industry hooked global consumers, and its greater impact on our lives. From smartphones, portable tablets and social media, the tech industry has designed these fun immersive technologies, but are they good for us? Are we too dependent on our devices? What keeps us hooked? How is it impacting our children?
Over time, children have become less interested in the world around them and more interested in the screen in front of them. The more time adults spend on their phones, they become less engaged in the lives of their peers and children, miss out on major milestones, and even teach their children that screen obsession is normal. The entire purpose of Screened Out is to demonstrate the adverse effects that social media, gaming, and cell phone usage have had on social and mental development over the years.
Viewers are told how social media and gaming work in the same way that gambling does—with random moments of gratification that induce dopamine in the mind. Sean Parker, former Facebook president, refers to Facebook’s methodology as a “social validation feedback loop.” Social media is later referred to as “interaction without risk.” The film carries this theme through its conclusion while offering solutions with success stories as well as examples of the negative and serious impact that too much screen time can have on a person.
While all of its content is informative, Screened Out does contain a few references that may be troublesome. A young girl specifically discusses her own depression as a result of social media and how it led to an attempted suicide. Tech withdrawal is compared to tobacco and alcohol withdrawal—begging the question, if you wouldn’t let your child do cocaine or gamble, then why would you allow them to become addicted to the variety of screens prevalent in today’s society? The film briefly discusses the ways that technology has hindered “thousands of years of human evolution,” which challenges biblical Creation found in Genesis 1. And, while it’s a less heavy topic, Christian parents should be aware that there is one scene where children are outside playing wizards.
Screened Out is a brilliantly made and informative film. The facts shared throughout are not only relevant, but also well demonstrated and well cited through dozens of interviews. The camerawork is clear and concise, and the audio is crisp. It does a wonderful job of pointing out the negativity associated with screen time and it does an even better job offering a solution to the problem and WHY a solution is necessary. Overall, Screened Out is a must watch film for a generation addicted to our phones, our video games, and social media.
Screened Out is Dove-approved for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
Screened Out seeks to expose the damage created by excessive screen time in both adults and children.