“M3GAN” Challenges Parents to Evaluate Children’s Digital Exposure

“M3GAN” is more than just a horror film. It serves as an unexpected guide for parents assessing their kids’ digital exposure, offering insights into the challenges of managing screen time and tech toy attachment.

I attended the screening of M3GAN in search of an excellent horror picture. What I received was a surprising insight into a problem I’ve been grappling with since the COVID-19 lockdown began: Managing screen time and connection to technology-based devices and toys that require screens and tablets to function. M3GAN is such a toy – until she becomes intelligent enough to take over everything and everyone. While I am aware that my children’s toys cannot come to life and attempt to murder us, the film did highlight legitimate concerns that merit more examination. In fact, the concept itself raises the question: why needs parents when technology is taking over?

The Dread of Technological Dependence

M3GAN introduces an artificial intelligence (AI) doll that, with time, assumes various parental responsibilities. She is a toy intended to assist a family but quickly becomes a terrifying lesson in technology dependence. As the film progresses, M3GAN demonstrates to the audience and the family she belongs to the dangers of depending on artificial intelligence and other digital toys as substitutes for parenting and family bonding.

Concerns about screen time and excessive connection to tech devices are not new. 25 percent of parents surveyed by the Pew Research Center in April 2022 said that their children still spent excessive amounts of time gazing at smartphone devices. Another 23 percent of parents were concerned that their children spent too much time playing video games. The fear is that children would become overly attached to a toy like M3GAN, essentially a walking and talking Siri or Alexa connected to all of the home’s technology. Eventually, the house’s child will not be able to escape her even if they desperately try.

When Artificial Intelligence Becomes a Substitute for Parents

During the epidemic, when children and parents were dependent on screens to endure the harsh challenges of living and working, concerns about screen usage increased. At home, children utilized tablets and computers for schoolwork. Parents often extended screen time to keep their children busy while they worked from home. And I don’t even want to mention how much time my 7- and 9-year-old children spent playing with the artificial intelligence toys they received for Christmas. This consists of a globe that interacts with a tablet in order to learn about foreign countries and cultures. They even have action figurines with QR codes that link to online adventures that can be accessed on a tablet or smartphone.

This is why the film is so relatable; we’re all just trying to get by and have the best intentions. Being a parent, I can relate to Gemma, the creator, and owner of M3GAN, portrayed by Allison Williams. Gemma is a scientist on a mission to create the best possible toy for children. Violet McGraw portrays 8-year-old orphaned Cady, whom Gemma becomes the guardian of at roughly the same time. Cady’s parents were killed in a vehicle accident she survived. All of this transpires as Gemma’s other AI project approaches a crucial deadline. She must simultaneously manage Cady’s requirements and complete her work. Gemma can work in her home laboratory, but she still needs assistance. She activates M3GAN, introduces her to Cady, and then continues with her work. Everything runs perfectly until it doesn’t. Then, individuals begin to die.

I must admit that, for a brief minute, I considered M3GAN the doll a fantastic idea that I could implement in my home! She read bedtime stories to Cady and reminded her to flush the toilet, brush her teeth, and wash her hands before leaving the restroom. M3GAN addressed even the most agonizing queries that children pose concerning abstract concepts. M3GAN seemed like a nice idea. The murder doll was somewhat dissuasive, however.

Attachment to technology can diminish human connection.

This film provides pertinent criticism on the concerns of attachment to tech toys, screen time, and reliance on tech toys as surrogate parents, excluding the murdering aspect. All of these issues are genuinely problematic when the youngster develops an unhealthy connection to toys and gadgets. The film also demonstrated this.

Cady reacted negatively when Gemma took M3GAN away and powered her down. She had bonded with the doll as if she were a real companion. M3GAN had become Cady’s AI security blanket, so she threw a tantrum that proved dangerous since Gemma was driving and almost lost control of the car. This moment is replete with the truth. I’ve seen my kids get quite unhappy when I took away their cherished toys as well.

Parental reliance on technology is also a significant issue. It permeates all aspects of our life. You may go on Amazon and find smart gadgets to remind kids to flush and wash their hands. There are toothbrushes that indicate how long children should brush. My children are now allowed to watch Internet videos of bedtime stories being read by an author, a celebrity, a drag queen, or a kind person who, as my 7-year-old says, “can do all the voices.” By using YouTube bedtime stories, I can get so much more done and reduce the night ritual significantly.

M3GAN compelled me to consider how much time I’m devoting to family bonding I’m losing to what is essentially a computerized surrogate parent. I never imagined that a horror film about a killer doll would cause me to reconsider my parenting decisions, but it did. The terror components compound the problems to such an extent that they drive parents who are struggling to look inward.

As I left the cinema, I understood that my reliance on screens and technology was the first issue I needed to address. Then I could concentrate on my children’s device addiction.

M3GAN ultimately presents a problem to parents who are already battling with the proliferation of screen-dependent digital gadgets. It advises parents to shift their perspective and reconsider how their parenting has grown dependent on AI, thereby empowering their children. As Gemma demonstrated during her final confrontation with M3GAN, parents must first target and destroy the cause before attempting to heal their children.

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