But Chris Knight would like a little more time with Animal Crossing first
If there was ever a bad time to release – on screens! – a documentary about how we all spend too much time on our screens, the pandemic is it. In the absence of live sporting events, concerts, dining out, long-distance travel or – well, much of anything, really – our phones and tablets have become virtual replacements for much of what used to happen in the real world.
But you can’t fault Screened Out director Jon Hyatt, who clearly has a passion for his subject. In a brisk 70 minutes he walks us through the statistics, including the hours spent on screens daily by various age cohorts, and the alarming rise in depression and suicide among young people who have grown up tethered to social media and its carefully cultivated, hard-to-escape, impossible-to-duplicate images of happy consumerism.
It can get a little suspect at times – not sure what to make of the statistic that modern attention spans are now eight seconds, when they used to be 12, and even goldfish can concentrate on something for – wait, what was I talking about?
Steve Jobs never gave his kids iPads
But if there’s a moment that hits home in this well-meaning doc, it’s when someone in the movie points out: “Steve Jobs never gave his kids iPads.” This followed by a quote from Jobs himself on what was then the brand-new Apple product: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
It seemed too spot-on to be true, but a quick Google search turned up a New York Times article from 2014 headlined: “Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent.” It turns out that technology executives and silicon valley boffins – the ones who know best just how apps are designed to grab our eyeballs and not let go – are also the most stringent parents when it comes to limiting screen time for their kids. That alone should raise some red flags.
Even Hyatt isn’t advocating we ditch our phones completely. But the notion to unplug a little more often, a little more mindfully, is hard to argue against. Just let me ride out the pandemic first.
Screened Out is available now on demand.
3 stars out of 5