When Mary Wheatley saw a piece on the film, “Screenagers: Growing up in the digital world,” it stayed with her.
Then, she heard about it later on Dr. Oz, and its message struck her again.
But it was a few months ago, when she saw a family of visitors sitting down for dinner at a restaurant, it hit home.
The parents, the children, even the nanny looking after a small boy, were all plugged into their phones. There was no conversation. No talk of their day. Just staring at the screens of their cell phones. The boy, maybe 7, was the only one without a phone and looked around at the others. No one noticed him.
“I was very taken by that. I was really hurt for the family because I thought they were missing an opportunity,” Wheatley said. “That’s when I said, ‘I need to bring this film to Kauai.’”
She was true to her word.
Wheatley, an “Inspired Parent Coach” who helps moms and dads resolve parenting issues, is sponsoring the film that is scheduled 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center.
Screenagers, she said, offers a universal message about the digital age that everyone needs to hear.
“We’re all living it right now,” Wheatley said.
Its impact on children, and adults, too, is more than many might believe.
“Anyone who has a cell phone may not even know how absent they are to the effects of that device and how it’s affecting their neighbor,” she said.
Kids spend an average of six and a half hours a day looking at screens, and that doesn’t include classroom and homework time, Wheatley said. The 68-minute film offers guidance on minimizing the social and physical effects of all that screen time and finding balance.
“The digital world we live in affects all aspects of our family lives,” she wrote.
While young people must be plugged into this digital world for work, for school and socially, it should not consume their daily lives. The loss of face-to-face conversation should be considered.
“Are we interacting effectively with our neighbor?” Wheatley asked. “Are we sitting at the dinner table and there’s no interaction with mom or dad?”
If we’re not talking with neighbors or at the dinner table, we should be, Wheatley said.
She said educators and other community leaders reviewed the film and support her efforts.
The Kalaheo resident is spending $2,500 of her own money to bring the film here, rent space to show it, and cover other costs. It is worth it, she said.
“After seeing the film, many parents and students alike feel more confident and better equipped to establish balance around screen time,” Wheatley wrote.
Tickets online are $8 for adults and $5 for students, and $10 and $7 at the door.
They can be purchased at inspiredparentcoach.com