THE BLOG
09/10/2013 07:18 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Child Screen Addiction

Just recently I have been hanging out with my teenage godchildren, my friends' teenagers, and talking to the young people who have come along to screenings of PROJECT WILD THING.

I've shown them the film - and I've been worried by their reaction.

I was in Belfast last weekend, showing the film at the Cinemagic Film Festival. Two teenagers spoke up in the debate after the screening. They told me that the film makes them feel anxious. Watching it, they think about the huge amount of time they spend on screens. They know it is wrong, but they can't see any way out. They feel guilty.

I was moved by their comments. I have not made this film to worry children and young people. I want to get them outdoors, not make them anxious and guilty.

The film makes these teens feel trapped: afraid of not spending enough time outdoors on the one hand, and, on the other, anxious about missing out on socialising through technology. They had asked me for help - and I wasn't sure what to say. I'm not a trained counsellor.

The teens I spoke to in Belfast talked about being trapped in language I've heard alcoholics and drug addicts use. They are addicted to screens.

But they'd taken the first step: admission. They had admitted to themselves and to a cinema full of people that something needs to change.

I was moved that these teenagers spoke of their anxieties. A positive review is good to get. But discovering that the film may change how some people behave is a hundred times more satisfying.

I have been asked quite often about my ambitions for the film. What is it I want Project Wild Thing to do?

I want people to take the message on - to talk about the film and to look at their own lives and see if they can spend more time outdoors. Spending time in nature really is the silver bullet. Every extra minute in the outdoors has positive and cumulative benefits.

I hope that I've got to my two children in time - they are only 4 and 6. They were discussing the finer points of getting sap out of a tree the other day. But their old screen habits die hard. Have I really reconnected them to nature, I wonder?

I just hope they grow up to examine their lives like these older children. Some worry and anxiety is good. It means you are engaged and ready to change.

Find out how to see PROJECT WILD THING.