WE’VE all got a monster in our pocket. Those smartphones of ours are destroying us. They’re making us stupid. They’re making us useless parents, dangerous ill-informed voters, cultural philistines. The screen has turned us into a society of petty little narcissists in less than a generation.

BBC Scotland airs a timely documentary tomorrow which looks at the use of digital devices like smartphones and iPads by the average family. It paints a dystopian picture.

The film, Screen Grab, uses an Ayrshire family called the Mitchells as its lab rats. Mum, dad and three kids aged eight, six and three are all slaves to the screen. The five of them spend more hours online than there are in the day – the Mitchells clocked up a combined 27 digital hours per day. The first thing mum Ruth looks at in the morning is her phone. The first thing her three-year-old Alfie looks at is his iPad. The children go to bed with screens, not bedtime stories.

They’re living in a world of ‘technoference’, where technology destroys relationships. We know tech is disruptive – it kills the high street, wipes out retailers, changes how we read newspapers or order a taxi – but the most disruptive aspect of technology is its effect on us. We’re losing the ability to relate to each other. Love is being disrupted. Technology is killing what makes us human.

Like countless families, the Mitchells are “alone together”. They may sit in a room together, ghostly white light from their devices illuminating their faces, but no-one is talking. It’s as if they don’t exist for each other. They’re isolated yet together. It’s painful and sad to watch.

The film-makers tell me they got the idea for the documentary when they learned that the average person touches their phone 2500 times a day and that medical experts think giving a screen to a child is equivalent to a gram of cocaine in terms of the neurological effect on the brain.

The Mitchells seem drugged by their devices. Dad Jason spent 7.2 hours a day online – as much as most of us sleep. Six-year-old Danielle was on a screen four and a half hours a day.

Mum and dad have wasted years of their lives online which could have been spent with their children. The documentary uncovers how the couple have lost three years with eight-year-old Charlotte, two with Danielle, and one year with Alfie. They’ve also wasted much of their own relationship. The Mitchells have been together ten years, but a third of that was spent on screens.

In the film, the family agree to an intervention. Their devices are removed for five days. They blossom – they play games, talk, instead of a screen at bedtime the kids get playtime. There’s lots of closeness, hugs, kisses, eye contact. Before, they were like the living dead. Now, far from being bored, they feel alive.

Within minutes of getting their devices back, though, the Mitchells are all staring blankly at screens. Ghosts to each other again. The film-makers have done society a favour with this documentary. It’s executed with a lightness of style, and a youthful tone, which hopefully catches the eye of young families who need this cautionary lesson, but the message is pitch black: screens are poison and they’re ruining you.

The mantra that all technological progress is good has been shown to be utter nonsense. If we move from the personal sphere of the Mitchells to the public sphere of national politics we see the same disruption: screens deaden, they calcify, they corrupt.

A new study by the research agency Revealing Reality looked at how the average person consumed news on their phone. You’d hope that we go to reputable news sites – sites of major newspapers, or broadcasters, respected online journals and magazines – but you’d be wrong.

News was consumed through memes on Facebook, in posts by celebrity influencers or from the social media accounts of politicians, via conspiracy theory websites which peddle the disinformation that’s increasingly creeping into public discourse. Headlines are scanned, reporting ignored. Links to stories were shared on Facebook without even being read. News that was read tended to confirm an individual’s political worldview. Links were shared online in order to upset people with opposing politics.

The public is disengaging from the world of serious, professional journalism. Entertainment is easier than information for many, it seems. At the same time, the public knows little about how social media deploys algorithms to target us with individual messages which appeal to our most base instincts. We’re passive consumers of dangerous garbage.

Damon De Ionno, who ran the project for Revealing Reality, described the way we consume news as “total anarchy”. He said: “News is becoming intermingled with entertainment … You’re no longer asking: what’s going on in the world today? It’s very different – you want to be entertained.”

Culture is also in peril. Spotify, the online streaming music platform, has just turned ten years old. To celebrate, users were told what their most played songs and artists have been over the decade. What’s revealed is a cultural world similar to the political world: we listen to what we already like, we aren’t seeking out new experiences, we aren’t stretching our minds, our musical tastes are narrowing. Simultaneously, a new study has found that Britons are posting more selfies than ever – an average of 468 annually. Culturally, we’re being killed by our own stupidity.

The documentary Screen Grab uncovers some solutions to this slow societal death we’re experiencing. Delete social media apps. If you need to use Facebook or Twitter that’ll force you to do so via a web browser – it’s slower and less appealing. Leave your phone downstairs at night – buy an alarm clock – that way it won’t be the last thing you see before bed and first thing you see in the morning. Grayscale your phone: go into settings and find grayscale and turn it on. It makes your phone black and white. A colourful toy suddenly becomes a dull and uninviting machine. Phone usage drops dramatically.

Learn to hate technology. An addict can only start recovering when they manage to despise their drug of choice. So hate the monster in your pocket – the screen that’s ruining your life.

Neil Mackay is Scotland’s Columnist of the Year