Last month, the Monaro Family Support Service held four screenings of the acclaimed film, Project Wild Thing. According to The Wild Network website, the film was created to “explore a film approach to an emerging issue, coined ‘nature deficit disorder’, in kids.” The screening of the film in Jindabyne, Cooma and Bombala was followed by a discussion panel which focused on questions such as: ‘What are the benefits of encouraging children to spend time outdoors?’, ‘How do you foster a connection to the natural world and encourage free play in your children?’, ‘What are the risks of too much screen time?’ and ‘How do you develop healthy screen habits in families?’

Two Year 11 SMGS students were part of the panel discussion, Rebecca Matthes and Rebekah Batson.

Of her involvement on the discussion panel, Rebecca Matthes said, “The whole experience was extremely insightful. The video was great, and it was very interesting being on the panel and also rewarding that we could offer our input, especially owing to ‘screen time’ being such a controversial topic. Listening to others’ views and information, it was great to see that the most important topic being discussed was around achieving a healthy balance, and I hope that we were able to shed some light on how technology affects us as school students”.

Rebekah Batson echoed her classmate’s sentiment, saying, “I personally found the experience both educational and engaging. Technology use in children today is such a new and confusing issue. There were other great and knowledgeable speakers present, and they provided a unique insight into the world of technology from a parent’s/caregiver’s point of view. It was nice to be able to provide my own insight, from a student’s point of view, when technology today is such a large part of our schooling lives. Overall it was an honour to attend.”

Pauline Cook, Manager of the Monaro Family Support Service Inc., was appreciative of our students’ contribution to the discussion panel during the Project Wild Thing event, saying, “The discussion was stimulating and enjoyable, and touched on topics that are certainly a challenge for most families. It was extremely valuable (particularly for parents) to be able to include the perspective of two teenagers about how they navigate the challenges of screen time themselves and with their families. Rebecca and Rebekah both provided considered and insightful comments during the evening. They were enthusiastic and confident speakers and were a credit to the school.

Pauline went on to explain the importance of continuing to explore ways and tools to better manage our screen time as individuals and families. She said, “We have certainly had lots of interest in the topic of how to implement healthy screen habits in families since we held these events, so we will continue to work with schools, families and kids on the issue.”

If you have any questions regarding screen time and developing healthy screen habits, please contact the Monaro Family Support Service Inc.: cooma@monarofss.ngo.org.au or call 6452 3450.