Attendees watch the video entitled "Screenagers" at Castaic Middle School on Wednesday, October 02, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Screenagers: Castaic parents learn about the dangers of the digital age

Parents had a conversation about everything from their children’s screen-time habits to their own following a free showing of the documentary “Screenagers” at Castaic Middle School on Wednesday.

The screening, open to all Castaic Union School District parents, gave the audience a look into the damage that excessive smartphone, computer and internet use can have a growing child.

Parents learned that more than 75% of teens get inadequate sleep, with the presence of devices disrupting sleep cycles, according to the documentary. And the epidemic of “screen addiction” in today’s youth is evident when national statistics say kids spend an average of 6.5 hours per day looking at screens, not including classroom or homework.

Attendees watch the video entitled “Screenagers” at Castaic Middle School on Wednesday, October 02, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

CUSD Superintendent Steve Doyle said what stood out to him was the awareness that it brought to parents, not only about cellphones, but also about all screens. He recounted a story from the documentary where a student dropped out of school due to his video game addiction, eventually needing to be checked into rehab.

“It’s very comparable to drug addiction and how it affects the brain,” said Doyle. “And there are other consequences when you get into the phone use.

“Those that came and talked to me were very appreciative that we offered this to them and hoped that in the future more people would attend,” Doyle added.

Parents in attendance discussed strategies on how to help their children get away from their screens and interact in face-to-face social conversation. Some parents said they could help their child by being introspective and realizing their own faults when it came to how much they use their own phone and computer.

Principal Bob Brauneisen introduces the video entitled “Screenagers” to attendees at Castaic Middle School on Wednesday, October 02, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Everyone spends too much time buried and not having conversations or doing other things,” said Sherry Winslow, a CUSD parent who helped organize the event. “It’s hard for (my husband) to set the example to put the phone down, let’s eat dinner, go to sleep. He’s just as guilty, and I am, as well.”

The district will be showing the sequel to the documentary, “Screeenagers — Next Chapter, Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience,” Nov. 7 at Northlake Elementary School at 6 p.m..

Next semester, they will be showing the films again, with the first part being shown at 6 p.m. Feb. 26 at Castaic Elementary and the second part at 6 p.m. March 4 at Live Oak Elementary.

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