WESTCHESTER, Calif. — It’s been a tough year for parents and their students, especially families with young children.
The parents of a home in Westchester transformed the attic into a playroom to try to get their kiddos off the screens, but where are they? Downstairs, hooked on their computer screens.
This is what addiction looks like, according to Marie Elena Rigo and Jonathan Schuster, who say it’s scary for them to watch.
When the parents shut down the WiFi to get their 7 and 10-year-old off the computer screens for lunch, 7-year-old Alexa Schuster starts screaming.
Marie Elena said her son Ryan is composed for now, but just this morning, “He screamed at the top of his lungs, his face was bright red, he was like right in my face, he was like 'Noooo!"
She said it’s a typical reaction for both of them and when Ryan is trying to figure out distance learning he gets just as upset.
“He got so frustrated that he just kind of banged his head on a keyboard and said I just can’t learn like this I cannot learn on a screen," Marie Elena explained.
Even more concerning, both Ryan and Alexa have started to say things weekly that they never once said before March.
“When they’re frustrated, they will often say 'I hate my life, my life sucks, I don’t want to live anymore I don’t want to be here,'" Marie Elena said.
They’re feelings Ryan Schuster doesn’t know how to process. Before he and his sister started going to a learning pod, Ryan said it was even worse when his mom and dad were also his teachers.
“I didn’t know what to do and I was physically abusing my parents and I don’t know why — I think I was just … I was going crazy," Ryan explained.
Mom said he’s a kinetic learner with a ton of energy who has a hard time staying still. Prior to this year, Ryan excelled at school. He was studying at a 5th grade level as a 3rd grader. But now, his teacher said as a 4th grader, he’s back studying at a 3rd grade level.
“I mean this is so difficult because number one, I think Google Classroom is more challenging than running for president, because I can’t find any of my assignments," Ryan explained.
He’s not alone. Speak Up is a parent advocacy group within the Los Angeles Unified School District that's calling for a safe reopening option for next semester.
In a video call, the organization released the findings from a survey they took of parents and their students. It found nearly 60% of students are suffering from depression and other social emotional issues and 70% are facing learning loss.
This is just one of many reasons why Marie Elena voted in the survey to send the kids back to brick and mortar. Dad said their family unit as a whole is disintegrating and the kids need some sort of interaction that's not on a screen.
“This generation, they’re the guinea pigs, this is something that has never been done before and I worry all the time about the long-term ramifications that this is having," Jonathan said.
Mom said she’s concerned with the ramifications of right now, watching Ryan struggle through the subjects he used to love.
Marie Elena was so worried about her children's mental health, she reached out to a specialist who told her not to be too alarmed, since the comments they make about not wanting to live stem from fits of frustration instead of long term depression.
“The reality is we, as humans, need to be with other humans and the kids need to be back in school with their friends," she said.
The parents are hoping this change in behavior isn’t a glimpse of the long term impacts of 2020.