North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Film looks at dangers of screen time


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Arlington parents concerned about screen time and how it affects children can attend a free screening of "ScreenAgers: Growing up in the Digital Age" on May 21.

Arlington area PTAs are hosting the showing of the movie, as well as screening it at Post Middle School, Haller Middle School and Arlington High School.

The free screening for parents will be held May 21, at 6 p.m., at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center at Arlington High School at 18821 Crown Ridge Blvd., Arlington.

The film by documentarian and Washington state doctor Delaney Ruston looks at the current research about screen time and potential behavior effects of that current technology.

"There has been some concern about how cell phones have impacted our kids," said Robin Foster, a PTA member and a local middle school teacher (although the school district is not involved in this event).

"Is there a difference in behavior because of the screens? There are some people who are concerned it might be an addiction," said Foster.

Foster said that many PTA members from Arlington schools got together and decided to do something about those worries.

"The PTA was concerned and we decided we wanted to do something about it," he said, "and we started at looking at various things we could show the community."

The 'ScreenAgers' film was a good option because it talked about the research and experiments that are currently going on about the subject.

"The scientific research was definitely the most eye-opening," said Foster.

"It was very shocking how they showed the ways that cell phones can mess with a child's brain," he said.

There are some physical effects that have been observed in experiments involving mice.

There are also discussions about "the addiction to video games and how that kind of thing manifests," said Foster.

PTA members hope to talk about what parents can do as well.

"Part of what we're trying to do is not just talk about how screens can affect us, but also what we can do about that," said Foster.

The filmmaker and doctor behind 'ScreenAgers,' Delaney Ruston, will also be at the event to speak after the showing.

Following Ruston's talk there will also be a panel of locals to take questions, including a high school teacher, an Arlington police officer and a Smokey Point therapist.

Foster said that local PTAs received a lot of support to help put on the showings of the film.

"We were worried about being able to fund it, but fortunately the local businesses stepped up and have supported us," he said.

They hope that the event will help people talk more about the appropriate use of technology and screen time for youths.

"It's pretty important for us to come and take a look at this I think, and hopefully it will start the conversation," said Foster.


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