Kirk Cameron On ‘Connect,’ Social Media & His Children [VIDEO EXCLUSIVE]
Kirk Cameron has produced a new documentary about parenting children in the technology age, with a focus on social media. Cameron and his wife Chelsea Noble share six children, five in their teenage years, and the 47-year-old hopes to get them connected with other people in a more human way.
“I was inspired by the concern I have for my kids. My wife and I… share the universal concern that parents have about the effect that social media and too much technology is having on our kids,” Cameron explained on his inspiration for the film. “I think that the founding Facebook president said it well, when he said, ‘God only knows what this thing we’ve created is doing to our children’s brains.'”
Cameron did a lot of research with scientists who specifically study the effect on technology on children for the movie. “What I learned is that when kids are on social media, or when [we adults are] on social media for that matter, when you’re posting things and you’re getting likes, and there’s that positive feedback loop, a chemical is released in our brain called dopamine and it has a similar addictive effect as do alcohol and drugs,” he shared. “So if you take a phone away from a 14-year-old, they’re gonna go ballistic. And it’s literal withdrawal symptoms because of what’s going on chemically inside of their brain. It’s fascinating stuff, and it’s stuff that we as parents need to be aware of so that we can help our kids make healthy choices.”
In doing his research, Cameron began to think about his own children and the pressure that social media puts on kids. “I was struck by the weight of pressure on teenagers today to put forward this image of themselves as, their life is amazing, they’re doing so great, they have all these friends, they’re popular, they’re beautiful, and you see these kids working so hard to please other people and to be liked and be popular, that they were crumbling inside,” Cameron explains. “What they were lacking was real social interaction. Experts are saying that even though kids are more connected than ever, in reality they’re the most lonely generation ever, because they’re being robbed of the social experiences that are needs to be healthy in terms of their identity, their worth and their value as human beings.”
Cameron also believes that social media and isolation have played a part in many of the mass shootings and school shootings in this country. “I think technology is always something we need to be careful about, and even with the shootings, there were things that were telegraphed on social media about the mental illness that was going on here, and that’s why I think as parents, we need to do everything we can to be aware of what our kids are thinking, how they’re feeling,” he said strongly. “Oftentimes we have our head in the sand, or we just don’t have time to keep up with everything our kids are doing online, but we need to. That’s why I made this movie: so that parents can connect with their kids, they can protect their kids and be aware of dangers that are found on social media and the internet.”
As for the future, Cameron is mostly thinking about his family and his role as a father figure. “I think the greatest role that I will have ever played in my life is the role of the dad. My wife and I want to get it right cuz we only have one shot at raising our kids,” he explained. “So for me, Connect is what it’s all about, and I want to continue on this subject, not only with this documentary, but also with an actual educational course that goes even deeper into the subject, because I think technology is here to stay.”
Connect is in theaters for just two nights nationwide – Feb. 27 and March 1. See the trailer below.