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Sensational news stories about tech can have us wanting to run away to a cabin in the woods without internet or devices! Can there be any good news about kids and tech? In my conversation with Emily Weinstein and Carrie James, authors of “Behind Their Screens,” I found out that there are actually hidden benefits to tech, and that we adults can get much more curious and open-minded about kids and tech.
Drs. Emily Weinstein and Carrie James are Harvard-based researchers and authors of the new book, Behind Their Screens: What Teens Are Facing (And Adults Are Missing).
Hunter is the creator of the Mindful Parenting course, host of the Mindful Mama podcast and author of the bestselling book Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids. She helps parents bring more calm and peace into their daily lives. Hunter has over twenty years of experience in meditation practices and has taught mindfulness to thousands worldwide. She is the mother of two active daughters, who challenge her everyday to hone her craft!
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*This is an auto-generated transcript*
[00:00:00] Hunter: So I’m interested, I’m excited about your book Behind their Screens because you started with the idea that we have been misled and we have had researchers come or psychologists and researchers come on this podcast and tell. The how damaging screen time can be for kids, especially kids who have issues and challenges like ADHD and OCD and all these different challenges and that the amount of time that they’re on screen time is really, can be.
Hugely damaging, but used through your books telling us that this is, that a lot of the research is alarmist, that we have to dive in a little deeper to understand this. So tell us about where you’re coming from and what you
[00:00:57] Emily Weinstein: discovered. Okay I’m Emily, So I’m a psychologist.
Carrie’s a sociologist. We’re also, we’re longtime researchers of this topic. We’ve been doing research on teens and screens for over a decade. We’re also both moms. So we have a vested personal interest in this topic. And we recently had this amazing opportunity to work on a study where we collected perspectives from more than 3,500 middle and high schoolers across the United States.
Living in very different contexts and communities and they had very different perspectives on social media and screen time and cell phones. And this book is really about revealing what they had to say that they felt like they most wish adults understood. And we had so much fun working alongside youth and really breaking down for adults.
What’s myth, what’s reality, and how to use the research to have better conversations with the teens in your. . .
[00:01:58] Carrie James: Yeah. You mentioned a
ago, Hunter, that that there’s so much out there that’s alarmist about the conversation around teens and tech and it was just really helpful to slow our research down and to partner with young people to really.
Hear from them about their experience. Emily made reference to this, but we recruited a youth advisory council, so we had young people working with us every step of the way to try to make sense of the data, and that just really brought us into the details in such an important way. The other thing I’ll say is you mentioned like there’s this alarmist discourse.
A lot of it is often. Screen time. And there are a couple of things that we learned that are really powerful when you really tune into the particular and tune into details. And one is that screen time doesn’t capture key differences in terms of what teens are doing on their screens or like differences across a given time, amount of time that they’re on their screen and the kinds of activities they’re engaging in.
So we often use this blanket. Terminology of screen time when we look to reduce it without zooming into what are some of the details. And that’s one way in which listening to teens shed light on what was happening. But the other pieces that teens are really different in how they’re feeling or responding to the different things that they’re doing on their screens.
And so teens are not a monolith , They react differently. Some of them get sucked into highlight reels and walk away from a time on Instagram feeling really lousy. And others have a different feed where they have pursued interests and the algorithm is supporting those interests and they walk away feeling really good.
So that’s just to bring you into the ways in which talking with teens and hearing more about their perspectives and zooming into the particular. Helps us calm down some of the panic about screen time.
[00:04:04] Hunter: I know actually sometimes when I panic about my daughter and she’ll be like, But mom, I was researching like, she really was like researching the kind of fish that she should have and her gold dish and her tank and the water and the acidity and all of these things.
Like she’s actually I mean her YouTube. Feet is filled with fish people and horse people. So it’s I get a little worried and then I, when I listen to her, when I talk to her I hear, I hear a story that is a little reassuring for me.
[00:04:43] Emily Weinstein: And exactly what you said, paying attention to what she’s actually doing during that screen time and how she’s feeling as a result of it.
That is one of the key things that we found is just so important. And one of the things that’s happened is that there is just this. Incredible strong cultural narrative around the idea that just screens are bad. And I think many parents get in this loop of feeling like we should feel guilty whenever we’re letting our kids be on screens.
And that the goal should be essentially wait as long as possible to get your kid a screen and then have them use as little as possible. Hold out as long as you can, and. , Gosh. There are complications of that approach too. And we are not it’s we are not, This is not a book about the fact that we could be so reassuring and there are no problems.
The whole book is about the things that are hard for teens, but what we found was that actually the things that are hard are not necessarily the things that most adults assume. And that when we move beyond the screen time conversation, we actually get to pay attention to the difference between an hour of screen time where a teen is researching their goldfish tank or learning how to nail a skateboard trick and an hour of screen time where they’re feeling really jealous of everyone else’s.
Summer vacations or or looking at really depressing content that’s clearly bringing them down and having a negative effect and those differences that are so much. And so when we just gloss over them by saying, Okay, one hour of screen time or two hours of screen time, We miss too much of what’s going on in our kids’ lives, behind their
[00:06:22] Hunter: So I get that and I wanna be like, yes, but then I also, I worry about screen time for me, right? Like I’m an adult and my, and I worry about, am I getting sucked into my device too much? Am I not connecting with my peers too much? Like I worry about the other adults, like when I go to the bus stop sometimes, like to pick up my daughter.
Instead of the adults hanging out who, it’s, you have to drive there. They’re talking to each other, they’re all in their cars, looking at their screens. And I find that sad and pathetic and it’s it’s I worry that it’s hurting us too. So if it’s hurting us with kids whose brains are not as fully developed, Is there are harms that can come to them too.
[00:07:15] Carrie James: Absolutely. We are all pulled to our screens. We know the poll. I, I remember during the pandemic and when we were all at home together, homeschooling, my husband and I both working and at the end of the workday my, my 10 my 12 year old would come and try to pull me. For my computer, and I just wanted to do one more thing and we all feel that and it’s really important to realize what are the particular.
Features of apps and the technologies we use that make it so hard to pull away. Social media companies are very savvy at building in features like infinite scroll to make sure you never get to the end of a newsfeed. Or notifications. There’s notifications. There’s a reason why they’re red flags rather than blue or green, cuz red flags are really, alarming and you wanna get rid of it.
You wanna see. Also it taps into that neural response and curiosity. Like I want, I wanna know who sent me a message. It could be something really. Important. So we’re all vulnerable to these designs. But the polls are really amplified for teens because of where they’re at developmentally because they’re primed to be so concerned about connection with their peers, and that’s normal and important.
They’re concerned about validation from peers, and so we just really have to understand that the collision of. Tech with their developmental stage makes it even harder for them to pull.
[00:08:57] Emily Weinstein: There’s another thing that you named in your comment that is, is really worth calling out and that we talk about in the book, which is this idea of what researchers sometimes call techno fear when technology is actually interfering with the qualities of our connections with one another and with our relationships.
And one of the key questions when we say we have to move beyond screen time, it doesn’t mean that the time we’re spending doesn’t matter. It means we have to get more specific about things like what are we doing on our screens? What are we not doing because we’re on our screens and how are we feeling as a result of it?
What is an individual kid bringing to their screen experience that’s maybe getting amplified? That’s like the examples you were mentioning earlier, like their own vulnerabilities and how those might be magnified. Those are all very real and actually it’s not. We don’t wanna overlook those. In fact, what we wanna do is look at them much more intentionally and recognize that there are times like techno fear is absolutely crucial for us to pay more attention to.
There are research studies pointing to the impacts that it has on the quality of our parent-child relationships, on the qualities of our connection with our friends and our romantic relationships and partners. And teens are super aware of this. We talk in this book about this idea of the digital pacifier, which was something that teens were telling us about, which was this idea of using your device for almost a kind of self soothing because when you’re in a social situation and you feel awkward and you don’t really know how to start a connection with someone or start a conversation, it’s easier to just pull out your device.
Look like you’re busy instead of look like you are awkward. And of course this completely backfires in the sense that if I’m on my phone like this, if I have my phone right in front of my face, it’s even less likely that someone is gonna approach me and start a conversation. And I just made myself less successful, not more.
That’s your example of the car line. I think that’s a kind of screen time that is. Paying attention to cuz it’s displacing the connection that you might otherwise have with other peop parents in the car line. Maybe a moment of calm for yourself, of wa your mind wandering through other topics.
And that really does matter.
[00:11:08] Carrie James: No. One thing that we haven’t named, as we’ve talked we’ve gotten pulled in to this conversation about digital habits is one of the big revelations from talking to teens is they actually worry about their digital habits too. It’s. So like listening to them and it was much easier for them to tell us because we’re not their parents and we weren’t poised to take their devices away, but they told us things like, the app TikTok runs my life, or I can’t seem to pull away from social media.
They really recognized that this was hard and they didn’t wanna feel dysregulated. They don’t wanna feel like their habits are out of control. And so understanding that, like laying there. Some of the real tensions that teens feel tapping into that I think allows us, We often say that we’re in an us versus them battle with our kids over screens, but if we recognize that we’re all feeling worried about that poll, then we can convert that to an us and them battle, and so we can roll up our sleeves and think together about how to.
The pull of the screen and we have some particular things that we’ve learned about ways adults can go about this. I’ll just name one thing and then, maybe Emily can give voice to some other, one is to actually talk about some of those persuasive design features we were talking about a moment ago, like infinite scroll and notifications.
There’s actually talking about those features and highlighting them is actually an evidence based practice. We have a couple of colleagues who ran a really interesting study where they talked with teens about persuasive design features revealing the things that social media companies build into apps.
But they also connected that conversation to values. They aligned that, that discussion with the kinds of values that teens hold dear and making those connections was really important. Adolescents don’t wanna feel duped, they’re really. Keen or keenly aware of when someone’s trying to manipulate them and undercut their sense of autonomy, which is a key value, or they value justice and fairness, and the idea that a social media company is trying to trick them.
Tapping into that sense of unfairness can really embolden or motivate teens to address some of those habits, especially if we know. Deep down, they are really worried about these things.
[00:13:44] Hunter: That’s hopeful for me because I did make my daughters watch the documentary about social media that came out last year that, I’m blanking on the name of it now, but I did say the social dilemma.
The social dilemma, yes. I did say you have to watch this to educate them and they grumbled a bit, but I’m glad that they are, at least we had. Information and that, that information about the persuasive design and things like that. Because it sounds like what I’m hearing from you guys is that it’s similar to so many aspects of Parenting where we don’t wanna get into that us versus them battle.
That never helps anybody. It just creates. Resistance and then you don’t have, you lose your influence, right? The more you use your power, you lose your influence. And so we wanna stay on the, we’re on the same team side and then be able to use our influence for positive, for the good. That said like we, there are maybe some boundaries that we wanna hold.
You guys are parents, do you? What are the boundaries? Do you have boundaries around tech, around phones and things like that you have with your kids or that you recommend after having all these conversations with teens?
[00:15:04] Emily Weinstein: Emily, do you wanna jump in? Yes. Is the short answer . Okay. Also, first, so I, Carrie and I, while we were doing this research, I’ll just say we’re Parenting kids from.
Zero to 17. So we have had the whole kind of spectrum of child development in our own household as we’ve been doing this, and I’m at the younger grand of the spectrum. So I’ll talk a little bit about the early childhood stage and then pass to carry for the tween and teen boundaries. So I’ll say the first thing, which actually is.
Relevant to early childhood, but also throughout development. Is that an uncomfortable truth? Is that we have to take a really hard look at our own tech habits and what we’re modeling to our kids around the ways that we interact with devices. Even from, I could not believe from the earliest ages my daughter was so aware of when I was distracted by my phone of when my eyes were on the screen.
And this is actually something that is borne out by other research studies. You can watch these videos of these paradigms where kids watch are looking on trying to get their parents’ attention while the parents’ eyes are glued to the phone and it’s hard to watch. It feels painful. It’s like kind of the evolution of what was like early attachment research if.
Listeners are familiar with that, but imagine just like looking on at this little baby, like trying so hard to get their parents attention and the parent just eyes on the screen. And the truth is that a lot of us, I think, fall into that category at one time or another where we are distracted and we’re not connecting because of it.
So the first thing is that engaging with this research made me take a really hard look at my own habits and recognize that. The pull of the screen is really strong and that sometimes it undercuts the intentions and values that I have around the kind of parent I want to be which is present and engaged, especially like connecting, connecting with my family.
So I started noting moments and times of the day when I was really vulnerable to falling into the kinds of tech habits that I didn’t want. One example is bedtime in my house. Like when it goes on into, the second hour of resistance and story, 52 stories, I would find that I would start to get curious what came into my email inbox and maybe I’m getting a little frustrated and I would all of a sudden just be like, Oh, I’ll just quickly check my email.
But I really don’t wanna be a parent who is doing bedtime with little kids checking my phone and being on email. And so I realized that if I wanted to resist that pull, it actually wasn’t enough to just say, I’m not gonna check my phone. I had to leave my phone downstairs or outside of the bedroom so that it was not physically within my arms reach.
And that’s just an example of recognizing we know the design features are powerful and the pull of the screen is strong. And We have to make like behavioral changes to our setup to align our family life, but the kinds of things we want for. That’s just one example for me. Carrie, do you wanna jump in?
Yeah, I think
[00:18:03] Hunter: that’s so important. Though I wanna thank you for that example cuz it’s so practical in that we think we have this like all encompassing willpower and I can just be like, Oh yeah, I won’t pay attention to it, but we have to get real with ourselves. No, I actually, need to leave it downstairs so you know, I’m not looking, all our phones in our.
Downstairs at night, so nobody like gets up and is Oh, let me look at this thing. We have to be practical about our limitations.
[00:18:31] Emily Weinstein: And Hunter, we can actually level up the impact of those kinds of changes when we name them out loud. We narrate our thought process, especially as kids get older naming the pull we feel and then the strategy we’re using to try and mitigate it.
And our value is actually a way to help our kids develop Mindful awareness about normalizing the pull of the screen and then normalizing the fact that we all have to take steps to manage life with this. Even, even with my three year old, I’ll now say Wow, I’m feeling really distracted by my phone today, but I really wanna focus on this game, so let me go put it in the, in the kitchen, or let me put it on airplane mode.
And she doesn’t have a phone and she doesn’t really know what airplane mode is, but I want her to grow up knowing that it’s okay to feel the pull. But it’s also really important for us to do things that help connect and make sure that we’re avoiding the techno feelings as much as we can.
[00:19:22] Hunter: I love that.
[00:19:26] Carrie James: So what Emily, Even though my children are older, so I have a 12 year old, she’ll be 13 in December and a 17 year old. Some of what Emily has named is still really relevant. Okay. The one thing I’ll say is that, my kids as I just named are different ages and age really matters in terms of like how much parental monitoring.
I have felt is appropriate. Emily and I are big fans of the principle of gradual release. As kids generally get older, the idea that, they deserve more privacy and autonomy, and so it may start out that you’re doing much more oversight. The key thing is that you’re letting them know Yes, I’m gonna take your phone and I’m gonna look at your messages.
Being really transparent about what you’re doing for oversight and why is really. Important knowing that this is this is an open conversation and we’re gonna revisit this as time goes on as you get older. So age is one element of it, but the other thing is tuning into your kids areas of vulnerability and their strengths and just who they are.
My kids are not only different in age, but they’re really different kids. So my younger kid is she doesn’t communicate, very openly. She’s really a closed book. So I’ll ask her, How was your day at school? And I get the shrug and maybe two words if that’s. So open ended questions where I wanna find out like, what are you looking at?
How are you feeling? This is not they don’t go anywhere. They, they fall flat at best. So some of what Emily was describing about naming out loud some of. The things that I’m seeing as I look at social media and some of the sort of normalizing the concerns that I have oh gosh.
On Instagram, everyone looks like they’re having le living their best life, having such a great time that really can’t be true can. And so I know that my 12 year old, even though she won’t talk to me so much in an elaborate way, she’s listening to what I have to say. And using that move of naming the pulls, I feel.
Speaking out loud about some of the questions I have and stresses can be really effective.
My older child is really an open book and and I’ve had to Wait, let me say that again. . Yeah, My older child is more of an open book and that has meant that the way in which I digitally parent her is quite different.
I can ask her a lot of open ended questions and she’s much more frank with me. I know that she will come to me if she faces. Soy issues or dilemmas. She has many times. That has meant that sort of more intentional monitoring that I do for my younger child fell away earlier for Ella, my older child, because I knew that I didn’t need to look over her shoulder in order to have
because I knew that she would come to me.
I was on the lookout, all are as parents for any signs of stress or emotional strain, and I knew that if I asked her, she would, nine times out of 10 let me into what was happening. And so I calibrated my Parenting of her, including her tech life
[00:23:01] Hunter: accordingly. I love that because dear listener, what carrie’s speaking to is the quality of the relationship was strong enough, right?
Too. That and her, that particular daughter is open enough that, but it speaks to the quality of relationship, which is important if you’re, when your kids are young, to build those connections and listen to all those boring stories about my little ponies and whatnot, so that they’ll actually talk to you about the important stuff.
Later. We’re gonna get to some of the problems that the ki that the teens and are pointing out that when we, when you listen to them and hear about them. But I wanna know about we get this, we get a lot of scary information, we worry a lot. Are there benefits of techno technology benefits that we’re overlooking that we should be paying attention to in this conversation?
[00:23:56] Emily Weinstein: Yes. So they vary a lot from one kid to another and some kids are really tapping benefits of tech and others have much more of the sort of negative side of the equation. If we think of it like a seesaw, for some kids it really tilts toward the positive. And some kids it’s really tilts toward the negative and some it’s both are weighted.
But some of the positives that we hear about that we know really matter. Feeling socially connected and socially supported. Really important in adolescence in general for kids feelings of wellbeing to feel connected and supported to oth by others. And there are kids and teens for whom actually like staying connected to cousins who live far away or to friends from summer camp.
Those are really important positives and they make teens feel like I’m getting closer with these people and I’m not as isolated. There are obviously ways that social media gives us the complete opposite experience in some cases and for some people, so that’s not to overlook the ways that can lead us to feeling disconnected.
But the social upsides can be extremely meaningful, and especially if you have a kid who is struggling to feel connected to friends in person, maybe they struggle with some anxiety socially, and it’s hard for them to build relationships if they. Using Discord or Snapchat or whatever it is, to feel like they can express themselves and build those relationships.
And you feel like that is a good thing. Like you are right. Don’t overlook that gut instinct. That can be really meaningful. We also have loved hearing from kids in our, from teens in our studies about the ways that they geek out about things that they’re passionate about. Through their digital lives.
And interests really vary. You talked about the example earlier of your daughter, like investigating her goldfish tank and I have so many stories like that, top of mind of teens who were really into fixing cars and were like following all these Instagram accounts that taught them how to do car repairs or how to do a certain skateboarding trick or I’m thinking of a teen who was like, I’m secretly very into antiquing.
And the list just goes on and on, like art techniques. And so I think that’s another huge positive. Developing interests and mastery around skills and interests is actually another really important contributor to self-esteem and to wellbeing. And many teens are using social media. Around that book talk is another great example where teens are using TikTok to like source book recommendations and provide their own book reviews.
So those are two big ones that come to mind for me. Carrie, what about for you?
[00:26:35] Carrie James: Definitely and this cuts both ways. It’s a double edge sword, but the opportunity to lean into civic and political interests that young people have. This has been a long time area of interest. For Emily and me, which is how social media and and young people’s civic inclinations really intersect with one another.
How they use social media to learn about certain causes and to speak out on things that they care about. And even get involved in mobilizing people, setting up petitions or organizing rallies and using social media as a space
to to get people involved,
even engaging in conversations. There is certainly, as I mentioned before, an underbelly to this.
It can be really challenging, but we know that from talking to enough teams that there are enormous empowering upsides to using social media for civic purposes.
[00:27:35] Hunter: Yeah, I could see that, as I’ve talked to some people about some things, dangers around tech and screen time, one of the things that, you know, that I’ve seen as a positive in my kids’ life is it, not the civic thing, but my, my daughter keeping.
That’s friendship with her best friend who lives a half an hour away and they’ve been friends since they’re 18 months old, and she, they play Minecraft together and talk the whole time, and I, to, in my mind, that’s clearly a positive. They’re doing something that’s, creative that they’re into and they’re doing it together.
And often the little sister will sit in on, and they all hang out, the three of them because of this the ability to do this cuz of the technology.
[00:28:26] Carrie James: Absolutely. And my older daughter was a big Minecraft fan as well. And funny, she drifted back into it during the pandemic. She got really involved again.
And what’s it’s such a creative. Space. But what’s really interesting about gaming is that it often becomes so much more than like the app or the game. It becomes a place where, kids are connected like your daughter and her friend. And they’re often, they’re playing together, but they’re probably on audio in some way.
Whether they’re using discord or using the phone to connect while they’re
on the phone. While they’re on the
computer playing a game. And they drift into talking about really meaningful. Like things that maybe like stressing them out or upsetting them. We had one team in our study talk about how he connected with a whole bunch of gamers and set up this special dedicated discord channel to just like talking about things that were on their minds that were hard and sharing advice for one another.
And it started with gaming, but it became so much. .
[00:29:38] Hunter: That’s so cool. Okay, so there’s some benefits that we shouldn’t overlook. What are the things we should be worrying about and what are some of the dangers that maybe teens are hesitant to tell their parents about?
[00:29:53] Emily Weinstein: We talked about habits, which is definitely a big one.
Helping around the pull of the screen and setting boundaries that really support healthy habits is a big one. Another thing. Teens told us they really wish adults better. Understood that was a pain point is around the complexities of being a good friend in an age of social media. Many of us are alert to the idea that there is an adolescent mental health crisis in our country, and.
Another, a hidden sort of p component of the reality that we have more teens struggling with anxiety and depression is that we also have teens who are not struggling, who are more likely than ever to have friends who are, and those friends are often struggling. In public or semi-public ways on social media, maybe crying out for help or expressing their distress.
And many teens are in this tricky position of having to figure out the boundaries around what it means to be a good friend. When you see someone maybe in your peer group who’s crying out for help or who’s posting in a way that seems concerning, they also have to figure out, what should I do when I wanna maybe disconnect at night for my own self care, but I have a friend who’s saying I need you.
And of course, developmentally friendships are so important to adolescents. And one of the things that we really appreciated in hearing from teens is that adults might just say things like, Oh, you’re so addicted to your phone, or just you have such unhealthy tech habits. Teens sometimes feel like this pull between disconnecting for their own self care and wanting to be there and be available for friends in need.
And sometimes that need is a lowercase end. It’s something that like isn’t a real emergency, like they’re navigating some. Micro drama of their day and they just, they wanna be in it with their friends. But other times it’s a real capital end need and it’s something that would be hard to manage at any stage of life.
And it’s even more so because it’s really this burden of being a good supporter that’s on very young shoulders.
[00:32:03] Carrie James: Listening. That’s,
[00:32:05] Hunter: Oh, go ahead, Hunter. I was just gonna say, I don’t think that’s something that we think about so much as one of the challenges of tech. I really, I appreciate you bringing that up.
This idea of being a supportive friend. And these are the channels in which kids are supporting each other.
[00:32:20] Emily Weinstein: We started to realize that there are so many ways that. Often there’s this narrative that technology is undercutting empathy and it’s making a, it’s making us or making kids more narcissistic, less empathetic.
And one of the things that was so interesting to us, and frankly that challenged our own assumptions was really confronting the reality that for empathetic teens that it is actually their empathy that is underlying some of the things that are hardest for them. Navigating social media and figuring out how to set boundaries, and adults can probably relate to this on some level.
If you have a friend who has been too more needy than you feel comfortable with, or even a colleague or a boss who emails you and expects an immediate response. Their kind of, their norms can give you a sense that response time is reasonable, is expected, and it can give a real sense of pressure on you and you’re an adult.
So you can imagine how that’s magnified for teens who care deeply about their friends and being a good friend and also aren’t still developing a lot of the strategies around how to communicate and set boundaries productively.
[00:33:29] Carrie James: Tuning into that that pain point around around empathy and around really friendship dilemmas and that sense of pressure to stay connected to friends. If a friend is, as Emily was describing, struggling with a mental health issue or just feeling like you need to stay. Connected in order to preserve the friendship and make sure that it doesn’t fall apart.
We heard these
really powerful quotes
from teens who felt like they couldn’t step away, or their friends would quote, find the dumbest excuse
to cut you off.
And that feeling of vulnerability and the importance of friendship at that age cannot be, it cannot be
overstated. Some of this, especially
[00:34:18] Carrie James: The the tension about being there for a friend who’s struggling versus disconnecting for self care really animated some of the work that we’ve done in building educational resources. So we’ve collaborated really closely with. Common Sense Media and they’ve developed a whole suite of resources for schools.
And most recently we’ve worked with them on a couple of different resources that were key to particular dilemmas that we knew. We heard from teens in our research. They really struggle with. And so this dilemma around finding boundaries when you feel like you need to be there for a good friend, but you can’t always be there, is really hard.
And so we developed this thinking routine or this scaffold for teens to think about such scenarios figure out what they might wanna do, how they might want to. Communicate with their friend that they that they care, but they need to disconnect and actually practice some language for doing that because that can be a big barrier.
There can be the desire to set a boundary,
but we know even as adults like stepping up and actually saying what you need to say and saying it in a kind but clear way can be really tricky. And so we’ve designed some
supports that we hope will help with that.
[00:35:45] Hunter: That’s so cool. And where can people find that?
If they’re interested,
[00:35:49] Carrie James: they can find that on the common sense media website. Happy to share a link that you can attach to this podcast.
[00:35:56] Hunter: Awesome. That sounds great. And for your listener, Common Sense Media is a great resource if you are already using it for, Look, checking out your early eighties movies, early nineties movies before you watch them with your kids to.
[00:36:13] Carrie James: Sounds like a lesson
learned. Hunter .
[00:36:15] Emily Weinstein: Yeah they do a great job with reading some reviews, but they also offer so much more. And one of the, one of the something more pieces is this really incredible curriculum that Carrie and I have had an opportunity to work on that’s totally free and available for schools and teachers.
I think there are now over 70 or over 75 different lessons that really work on all different aspects of digital wellbeing, digital citizenship. Media literacy and developing the skills and dispositions to navigate life in a digital age.
[00:36:48] Hunter: That’s great. Emily and Carrie, your book behind their Screens goes into so much more that we don’t have time to dive into today.
Thinking about sexting and why people do that is one of the things that you might be interested in learning about. Dear listener there’s so much in here. And I really appreciate the nuance of this conversation that, you’re offering us ways to work with this thing that is here to Christopher, stay in our lives, right?
Like that we’re not gonna just, most of us aren’t just gonna run off to the woods and turn off our internet and. We do have to work with it. And I appreciate the complexity and the nuance of this conversation to kinda work with seeing the benefits as well as some of the challenges.
And I just wanna, give you a shout out for that nuance. Thank
[00:37:50] Emily Weinstein: you. Thank you, Hunter. I think Carrie and I feel so motivated to to share this work and to tell the stories because one of the big things that we came away with from this research was just a sense that actually our kids really want and need our help.
And that parents often feel like if we don’t understand all the details of the latest technology, we don’t even know. Start, It feels so overwhelming, and Carrie and I have both been there and also we believe so deeply that you have wisdom that your kids want and need when it comes to figuring out how to navigate this landscape and showing up for these conversations.
In a way that actually helps teens open up to you and that helps them get the support they need. It does require a pivot. We have to challenge some of our own assumptions and enter the conversations with a slightly different tone. Something really concrete that you could try this week is we often find that adults have this impulse to start conversations with what is hard or what’s negative about technology.
We ask questions like is. Bad for your mental health, or is Instagram making us all really anxious? Or why are you so addicted to your phone? A very simple pivot that you can try is actually starting with a question about what’s positive or what kids like about technology. Really focus on trying to get a teen level view from your team on.
Why it is that they actually like using this stuff when they like it, if they like it. So we ask questions like, can you tell me about some of the best parts about growing up with technology? Or who are you following on whatever platform? Who makes you feel really inspired? When we signal to teens that we get that there are upsides to them and that there are positives, we can then move into the exact same conversation we were going to have about the negatives, but we do it with a totally different tone.
[00:39:44] Hunter: Yeah. I love that. That’s incredible advice. Yeah, we wanna feel like we’re seen and heard and there’s something to appreciate before we go into the difficult stuff. That’s awesome. Thanks Emily. Thank you guys both for this conversation. I appreciate it so much. Is there anything we missed at all that you wanna leave the listener with besides that?
I love that idea of the pivot in our attitude. I appreciate
[00:40:08] Emily Weinstein: that. Hunter, thank you so much for having us. And yes, there is more we wanna share. We hope that people will check out the book. We had so much fun writing this book and really revealing what teens want their parents to know about tech habits, about social comparison, about friendship dilemmas and group chats, about performative activism, sexting culture digital footprints.
So we hope that people will check out the book and. That they will use it to feel inspired, to have better and different conversations with the kids in their lives.
[00:40:41] Hunter: Thank you both so much. I really appreciate you taking the time. I know we had some tech issues, so you’ve taken double the time to come on the Mindful Mama podcast, so I appreciate it so much.
Thank you. Thanks. You Hunter. Catch new episodes of the Mindful Mama podcast and other free resources, including the Mindful Mom Guide at Mindful Mama mentor dot. You can listen to every back catalog episode, including interviews with Dr. Dan Siegel, Yala Vanzant, Sharon Salberg, and get meditations. Join our private Facebook group and more.
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