Commissioner hosts presentation about families growing up in digital world


Pembroke Pines Commissioner Iris Siple hosted a free showing of the award-winning documentary “Screenagers.” as part of an initiative to inform parents and students about the dangers of growing up in a world filled with technology.

The second in a series of presentations, the city held “Raising Positive Children: Growing Up In A Digital Age” May 17 at the Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines.

“We are not here to say that technology is bad,” Siple said. “Technology is very good and useful but we do need to learn how to use in a positive way to make it work for our families not against our families.”

Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School West Campus Principal Michael Castellano co-hosted the screening. He lectured students and parents on the topic of technology alongside Siple.

“The strategy here is to help students to use technology in a responsible way, and teaching them how to use it productively because they’ll be using in the workforce,” Castellano said.

“Screenagers” is an award-winning documentary that exhibited different families struggling with issues caused by technology. It also offers tips from psychologists on how to overcome these problems and find balance in a technological era.

After the documentary, local experts voiced their thoughts on how technology can affect a child’s social, medical and educational life. Among them was David Rubi, a psychiatrist and the medical director at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

“Human beings tend to repeat behavior that feels good to them. Technology such as gaming and smartphones has become an addiction amongst young people,” Rubi said to the audience.

Issac Andrade, a Pines Charter High School senior, spoke against some of the issues social media causes and how it can affect his future.

“Schools want to look at the type of person you portray on social media,” Andrade said to the crowd. “They are going to go through all your pictures and see who you are following because who you are following shows who you are influenced by.”

Parents in attendance were satisfied with the outcome of the presentation because it addressed the development of children in the modern age.

“In the first series, we received a lot of parent input and requests,” Siple said. “Parents stated that they learned so much and they wanted us to continue on doing this—bringing in experts to help them understand what our children are going through today.”

Laurie Ortiz, a mother of four children, attended the presentation because she wants her children to make better choices based on the facts presented.

“I came because I wanted them to learn of the impact this can have on their life,” Ortiz said. “It’s their life, their choice, but their choices will be their consequences.”

Siple confirmed she will be working on a third series to follow up in these upcoming months, though the date is yet to be determined. For more information, visit