Screens Are Damaging Our Kids – Childhood 2.0 Shows Us How

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There’s been a flurry of films in the past few years about kids and the screen-based life they now live.

There was Screenagers in 2016, Like in 2018, The Social Dilemma in 2020, and now Childhood 2.0. This likely isn’t an exhaustive list, either, and my guess is that there will be others to emerge in the months and years to come. Each is a documentary or docudrama in which parents, experts, and youth discuss the real-life challenges that have accrued in their lives since screens took center stage.

Last week I viewed Childhood 2.0, free on YouTubeFacebook, and Amazon Prime, and found it to be a worthwhile watch. The commentary from educators, child psychologists, parents, and children is well-presented and relevant. Until the past twenty years childhood has signified one thing, but in the modern era it means something else entirely. As the film’s title suggests, screens can be understood as ushering in a “new childhood.” One of the film’s main points is that the world within screens is far more dangerous today than the world “out there” on the streets or in communities, a well-documented fact that most parents nevertheless disbelieve. Childhood 2.0 provides evidence for this, and makes the case well.

The ninety-minute documentary covers the lure of devices and the enormous amount of time spent on them, the role of social media, screen-driven bullying and resulting self-harm (and suicide), sexting, and pornography. Each of these topics is worthy of attention and reflection by screen-users of all ages. The fact that there are so many topics, and that all delve deeply into the core identity and soul of every screen-user, is exactly why the issue of screens and kids is so important.

To me, the words of the children themselves, who range in age from about seven to seventeen, are the film’s most powerful element. Kids speak to the enchantment and lure of their devices, the pressures devices exert on their lives, and how hard it is to moderate their use. Their insights are profound and sometimes existential. One teen-age boy, for example, reflects on the subtle impact social media has across a person’s growing-up years, saying:

“[The impact]’s not outright and it’s not something you can just see when you go online. It’s something that’s behind the scenes and it’s something that affects someone over years and years and slowly changes the way they think.”

This is true. And while it’s heartening to see that young people are capable of receiving that these forces are acting upon themselves and their peers … it’s equally dismaying to realize that they feel helpless to stop it. They’re cognizant of the harm and dislike it (at least some of of them), but they’re stuck with it. They, along with all their peers, are subjects of a screen-rooted sociological experiment. About this, one commentator in the film says, “Right now we’re effectively living in an experiment. How is this going to affect us? We’ll find out in a generation.”

Reflecting on Childhood 2.0 (and the other films offered in a similar vein), three key truths stand out to me.

We must pay attention to the far-reaching, soul-altering ways that screen use is affecting kids’ lives (as well as our own). We cannot remain in ignorance, downplay it, or look away. A film like Childhood 2.0 is valuable and worthwhile because it forces us to confront the realities that occur in and through screen use — for our children, and also for us, too. To look away is to allow consuming and often damaging forces to run rampant through our kids’ development and emotional health. It’s not an exaggeration to say that their souls are at stake.

We cannot go “doomsday,” and we cannot lose heart. Because this issue is so difficult and so comprehensive, many throw their hands up in despair. What can they do? So little. Parents in Childhood 2.0 echo this same sentiment, saying things like “It’s already too late,” “The train has already left the station, way before I realized,” and “It’s very difficult to opt out.” People avoid this issue and keep their head in the sand exactly because it all feels overwhelming. However, avoiding these matters isn’t an option; we must step up to the challenges, educate ourselves, and then act.

Which leads me to:

There are things that you can DO. It’s not too late. Despairing and hand-wringing are unhelpful, but taking action is not. In fact, taking action is what we must do! Education is the first step.  After that, we get engaged, take up tools, and employ best practices to mitigate the damage that accrue from “Childhood 2.0” life.

What kinds of things can you do? Some options are:


—   Take a family-focused tech course, like “Creating a Teach Healthy Family”; or work with a screen coach, like Nicole Rawson of Screen Time Clinic.

—   Organize a group viewing of Screenagers or Like with your teens and other families (as these films are only offered in private viewing settings, optimal for small group, facilitated discussion)

—   Research parental controls for your kids’ devices and install them. (This guide can get you started.)

—   Do a simple “reset course” with your kids, like Reset 2021 — a 21-day guide that will allow you to go through a digital detox together and also to discuss the process and implications in a guided, strategic way.


The time is now to act. The advantages of today’s screen-based “Childhood 2.0” do not outweigh the disadvantages unless we are engaged, proactive, and motivated to limit the many destructive elements.

We can do this. And we have to.


Susan Arico is a Connecticut-based screen coach and writer who focuses on how phone use affects our souls. She has written the guide Reset: 21 Days to a New Relationship with Your Phone. You can follow her on Instagram at @susanbarico and find her work at


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