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Screen time has a BIG effect on kids’ attention, brain development and more. We know that we want to limit screen time, but how do we do that when every other child has a phone? In this episode, I talk to Arlene Pellicane, author of Screen Kids, and host of the Happy Home podcast about how to limit screen time.
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker, author of several books including Screen Kids, and host of the Happy Home podcast. She’s been featured on the Today Show and the Wall Street Journal. She and her hubby James have 3 kids.
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: Like I said, I’m so fascinated to talking people about screen time. Cause I’ve talked to some people and they’re like, it’s not such a big thing to worry about. But then recently I read the Johann Hari stolen focus book and I’m like, oh my God. Like the social media is like killing our brains and like TikTok.
Yeah. What is it doing to our attention? And I it’s like such a tricky question. I think for so many ages, so maybe we could talk about, I was wondering if maybe we could start by talking about like, how does screen time affect kids at those different ages, because it’s, it is different, right?
As the, as you grow up and you’re more immersed in this
[00:00:48] Arlene: culture. Yeah, just think of us, we’re mamas that wanna be there for our kids. And in those first five years of life, imagine what’s happening. It’s like your child is learning to talk. Your child is learning to walk. Your child is learning to play and engage with others.
Your child is learning joy by looking at you showing joy to your child, but you put a device there let’s say. And then all of a sudden, this two year old, who would normally be babbling talking, pointing at things all of a sudden. They’re quiet. Like they’re not in your hair, but they’re just like down
[00:01:18] Hunter: extensively, right?
Yeah. It’s kinda like what you want
[00:01:22] Arlene: of what you want. So truly those first few years are I believe the most crucial. And those are the ones where I think that Mama, bear’s gotta come out to say, even I’ve got older kids and they’re on their devices that, Hey oh no. We’ve gotta protect, our one year old or two year old or three year old or four year old, because the thing is.
They’re having habits for the rest of their life and their brain is developing at an astonishing rate. And I like to think of it. When I moved into our house, it was just, dirt, we were new development and you buy in faith thinking. I hope they build something around here, but of course in time, everything gets.
Built out. And that’s your child’s brain, that it is just dirt. And as it’s developing it’s having a road to reading a road to music, a road to eye contact, a road to listening. All those things are being built. But when we introduce a device, Too much, too early, too. Stimulating all those things, those roads aren’t built.
And you wonder oh my goodness, you’re a 25 year old, but you don’t know how to be empathetic towards another person or how to just sit down and listen to someone for 10 minutes. That’s something that never got built in your life. So I believe the younger, your children are the more protective you should be about that screen time.
But I also believe from. Until age 10, think of it, your kids, they wanna be with you. They think your opinion is like amazing. So whatever you say, they’re like, yes, that’s what my mom says. And and that doesn’t last people that is a window. So if we like waste that window because we are all on our devices.
So that’s my big thing is asking that question. Is technology bringing your family closer together or is it tearing it further? What does it do to the relationship and from zero to 10, that relationship is really being formed. And it’s a very sweet relationship where your kids really wanna be with you.
They love you. They care about what you say. And so in the book screen, kids with Dr. Gary Chapman, we’re really trying to help you discover, what’s your, why? Behind cuz if you do delay devices as my family did you are going against the grain, like you’re the Mama, you’re the weird Mama that doesn’t have the phone in their kids’ hand, and so you have to understand like why is that important enough? And that’s what we go into.
[00:03:45] Hunter: I agree with you completely. The American academy of pediatric says no screen time before the age of two. I can think of that. I think of actually I think of both screen time in sugar in similar ways, these things that like.
We have a natural proclivity tube, right? Because our brains are wired to look for these rapid movements.
[00:04:09] Arlene: And you never had to tell your kid, like this milkshake is amazing. Like you never really had to tell your kid
[00:04:14] Hunter: that like we’re wired to look for something sweet, but now in our world today, we have.
So much abundance of this, like distraction and sweetness that, that it’s harmful. And so I, yeah, you do go against a grain. I remember like saying to the people at the bank can we, you not have the lollipops out and. Offer them to my like one year old, please. And it’s similar. I think with the screens, like it, it is going against the screen.
[00:04:42] Arlene: It’s funny also that you bring up candy because that’s one way, cuz sometimes we’ll think oh, all technology is bad or all technology is good and that’s, what’s tricky about it. It’s a mixed bag. And so I love to think about it as digital vegetables and digital candy that they’re both available and the digital vegetables, when kids were online in school, no one was afraid like, oh my goodness, my child’s gonna.
To Google classroom, like they’re gonna wake up three o’clock in the morning doing calculus and teams. Nobody thought that because they knew this is not an addictive medium. So they’re the veggies, that’s the stuff we’re trying to make our kids do. Will you please learn a different language?
Will you please learn this instrument online? Will you please listen to this lecture? Will you please, et cetera, that’s a vegetable and that is good for a child. And. They never get in trouble for that. But the candy of course is YouTube and TikTok and social media and video games. And it’s okay in small doses, but because it is so addictive, just like when you introduce sugar for the first time and it’s so hard to get off of it, it’s the same thing.
And so I think for our kids and for ourselves, it’s helpful. If we can say, Hey, is that a digital vegetable or is that digital candy? And the kids like candy. Okay let’s do a half an hour of that today, but just have, start having that conversation. So they understand because they’ll, sometimes we, moms will be like we don’t wanna seem him hypocritical because we are on our phones or we’re on our laptop working and we don’t wanna be hypocritical and tell our kids.
So we just, but if we talk in this way Mommy’s doing a digital vegetable. I’m like answering my work emails. And then it’s funny because it legit makes you do that because now you’ve just told your kid you’re doing this digital vegetable and yes. Does the line get blurred? Of course, but just calling it back to that, because if I strap M and Ms to my body and I just tell myself, I’m just gonna eat 10.
There’s no way I’m ever gonna succeed. And if we give our child a phone, an iPad, and they have access to it anytime they want, there’s no way on their own that they’re gonna be like, oh yeah, I’m cool. 20 minutes. I’m good mom. It’s not gonna happen. I
[00:06:47] Hunter: know we have to have boundaries and stop it.
Okay. Zero to two, at least. Yeah. Let’s try to like completely just like as little as possible. Yeah. None if you’re able to, and and we, yes, I understand that, we’re all gonna have moments where we’re human and et cetera, but so then we wanna limit their exposure to digital.
Candy. So that means having limits and holding those limits. What are some, what do you think are some healthy ways to to have screen time in kids life say from Three to, like in preschool and then maybe in an elementary school or something
[00:07:41] Arlene: like that. Yeah. So co-viewing the American academy of pediatrics always talks about co-viewing that if you view with a parent or with an adult, exactly.
I know exactly. That’s what you’re gonna say. So that’s how it is valuable. That you’re both watching and you say, oh, isn’t that funny? How he did that? And then you can laugh. Oh, remember the little red rooster, whatever. So that
[00:08:01] Hunter: I actually did like My Little Pony, like I would put down, I would put on my little pony for my girls when they were little and I’d be like, oh good.
I’m gonna use this half an hour to do something. And then I’d just sit with them for a few minutes and I get totally sucked into
[00:08:16] Arlene: the hysterical. You’re like, I must find out what happens. Our ours was Thomas the train with our boy, but so let’s be real. So that’s the best. Is to have an adult, a caring adult in this child’s life.
That’s watching and talking with them about this show, the real way is that, oh, good. We’re safe for half an hour. And now we’re gonna go do stuff because we know exactly where a child’s gonna be. And here, I think the old technology is better is that you get that old. I still have. A DVD player, so you get that DVD player and you know exactly what’s gonna be in it because you never know like what button your child is gonna push while you are away.
What’s whatever, or whatever’s just gonna pop on. You know exactly what’s being played. And more magically, it ends because the problem is once your child understands oh, look what this remote control does. Now you’re fighting this oh, can I watch more something queued up next? I have to find out what happens to my pony.
Whatever. And so it’s really a lovely thing where it ends like it’s stops and that’s how it used to be. And that’s why I think the technology of yester year, it’s in terms of Parenting. And I think even in your adult life, The old stuff was better because it had a stopping point and this technology is it’s they made it this way.
They did it on purpose, they could have done it so that it really did stop, but they knew our psychology oh, we’ll keep watching. We’ll keep their eyes. If we cue them up something else. So I think it is important to limit it. So let’s say it’s a half an hour a day, and then it’s a DVD player, cuz it has an end or something where you have a system don’t make it so hard for yourself that, you have all these decisions to make, just make a system like, okay, from this time to this time, that’s your half an hour.
And this is the program that you watch. And you, I know some of you are rolling your eyes and you’re like, oh please, what world do you live on? But you are the adult and you have this kind of power to establish what is normal in your child’s life. You do, you can step back and think like what shows have the values that I want my child to really latch onto, in the book screen kids, we talk about like ABCs, like a, what kind of attitude does my child have after this show is over B what kind of behavior does.
Show really applaud and make my child do and see character. What kind of character is really played out. That’s what I want my child to be. And so I think as we use that and we see oh, our kids should be a more enjoyable child. After the screen time. And I know for a lot of us, it’s oh no, our child is not a more enjoyable child after screen time.
And I think as parents, we’ve gotta reclaim that. That’s not the kids’ fault that’s on us. Like we are the ones allowing them to watch whether they’re five or they’re 15.
[00:11:11] Hunter: I that’s actually something that I did. I remember we had a laptop that TV. I’m not sure we have one anymore. But we had one and I would.
DVDs of Mr. Rogers. Yeah. And Sesame street from the library. Awesome. They did, they stopped, but I, it’s hard for me to imagine that people even have that anymore, but I wonder if there’s there’s gotta be some kind of, how we
[00:11:37] Arlene: love things retro. We love, if you got a Walkman, it’d be so amazing and so expensive to buy my so good for you that you kept that.
And my mix tapes. Thank you, star Lord. So I think it’s okay to think Hey, let’s get that. Let’s go to the thrift store and get that retro DVD player and call it something really cool and put a DVD in there. Seriously.
[00:11:56] Hunter: Okay. Cool. What, so we, you recommend for preschool, let’s like to maybe do half an hour a day.
Do you? I, one thing that I did when my kids were little, that I am so glad I did when they were young, now that they are older. And they’re 1114 now is that I, we started doing a screen free Sunday every Sunday, just to have a oh a day of the week, like a break, all of us where we take a break.
Yeah. And I don’t answer any emails, like sometimes, we get the map or whatever, but but that’s, that was a really good habit that I think is a, is. I would offer as a way to create some healthy habits that when they’re young. Now, what about
[00:12:42] Arlene: I so hardly agree, right?
Yeah. Our own behavior. And, you do that digital Sabbath kind of thing, which I also agree with. And you’ll find out that it’s mom and dad, who either have the hardest time. And it’s also a good test that you say, Hey, we’re gonna, not have screen time on Sunday and whoever freaks out the most, then, oh, you’re the one.
You’re the one who has the biggest problem. So it is a helpful thing, but you’re right. It is what we are modeling. And I think it’s a good question to ask ourselves, if my child grew up to use screens, just like I do, would they be really healthy and happy? Would their relationships really thrive?
That’s true. With that. And a lot of thing. One thing that’s so great about being a parent is that it makes you become a better person. Yeah. Because if it’s, if it’s just, you’re like, oh whatever, it’s like, people are looking up to you, you’ve got some responsibilities. And so I think that instead of bemoaning that.
Oh, I have to do this. Can my child, celebrate that, like this little kid is gonna make me a better human being that is more loving towards other people, more Mindful towards the people around me, more relational. And so I think that. What we model and that might start with an apology.
It really might, and you have to be ready to do it. And it’s something that Dr. Chapman and I we outline how you can apologize to your kid, but just to give the short of it, it would be something like, I’m so sorry. I’ve realized that mommy’s looking at the phone a lot. When you ask me to play.
And I’m really sorry about that. And the, sorry, can’t end there because the kid will be like, okay. And kids are so forgiving, but if tomorrow and the next day, and the next day you look exactly the same, it’s okay, why’d you bother apologizing. And so it has to come with a, I’m really sorry that I’m gonna do that.
Here’s how I’m gonna make it up to you. After dinner. We’re gonna read a book together for 10 minutes. And that’s what we’re gonna do. That’s gonna be our new thing. So just think through and if you dare to do it, ask your spouse, ask your friend, ask your mother, ask your children. Hey, am I on my phone too much?
Do you ever feel like you’re having to compete with technology to talk to me or to keep my attention and really be open to what they say?
[00:14:51] Hunter: That’s a good brave question to ask. I wanted there’s some of my friends who I wanna tell them, I’m not sure. So
[00:14:59] Arlene: and that is hard because see, when you solicit the advice that it’s welcome and it’s this really great thing, but when it’s unsolicited advice right.
To another adult, then it feels oh, you’re you understand? It feels different. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You’re
[00:15:14] Hunter: you’re judging me. Okay. So preschool, we’re gonna be looking at our own behavior. Maybe looking for some old school technologies bringing it back and it right. The, they were designed that way.
They were designed to addict your child. It’s the product of the business model, which is your attention or your child’s attention for dollars. So the
[00:15:37] Arlene: more, and for moms to get upset about that, to think wait a minute, you wanna hook my four year old so that my four year old is playing your game for the rest of their.
Let there be a little bit of indignation. No, you’re not gonna get ’em at four.
[00:15:51] Hunter: Yeah. And there’s some things you can do. I don’t know all the technology things you can do, but my husband has now blocked YouTube yeah. On our, from our server on Sundays and some other, I don’t forget what else, what it was.
Sure. Like at least YouTube is completely blocked just to yes. Just to have, and it’s not fair, right? Cuz our kids with their undeveloped brains are like going against the like smartest developers in the country who have all this exactly. Psychological training to make us just be watch more and more that’s right.
It’s not our fault necessarily, but we can take steps to work against it. Okay. So elementary school, right? Yeah. We’re kinda, we’re easing them into elementary school is when a lot of parents get their kid a phone. Yeah. This is a lot of times when they’re like, okay, my, my child’s going to school.
They’re away from me all day. I need to be in touch with them just in case I that’s what I think that people think. And what are, what do you see? What do you recommend for elementary
[00:17:00] Arlene: school ages? So I recommend that you talk to people who have done this because you think to yourself, oh, this is gonna be so great.
We’ll be able to keep in touch and we do it for safety. And then you realize, oh my goodness. When I give that device I think of it as like BC and ad before the cell phone. And after the device, there is a marked change in your child. And. It’s like the things they used to, like the things they used to play.
I remember my cousin telling me that in the cul-de-sac that girls would always play together. They’d bring their bikes out. They’d bring their scooters out, always play together. But when one girl in the neighborhood got a phone, then for a little bit, she came out, but then now she didn’t come out anymore and then they’d knock on the door and she’d be like, oh, I’m sorry, I’m just gonna hang out here at home.
And what happened was. That door to childhood, imaginative play all the innocent stuff of childhood that a fourth, fifth, sixth grader would do, that starts to, yes, that closes. And then all of a sudden they’re forced into an adult world way too soon. So I would just. I can’t say it emphatically enough.
If your child is asking you an elementary school for a phone and saying, everyone else has it, you need to delay, wait one more year, then wait another year, then wait another year. And if it is, it’s you need to get in touch with them. Then just get that G wireless phone. That all it does is like text.
So that way, yes, mom can call you. Dad can call you. We can figure out this ride situation. That’s fine. Don’t give your elementary school child a smartphone, don’t allow your elementary school child on social media, because once you do that sixth grader that was skipping and happy and laughing. Now they’re going to school and they’re like upset because so and so posted such and such.
And so didn’t like their photo. And because now we’re in a comparison game. Everything is about it’s lost instead of oh, I made a friend at recess, they’re thinking about oh, how can I get more followers? And it’s just, it’s too much too soon. And so do yourself a favor. Do your children a favor?
It’s not the right time.
[00:19:15] Hunter: There’s a, there was actually a pledge around when my, the oldest daughter that was like, wait till the eighth. Yeah, wait for pledge. For a smartphone. And I thought that. Smart idea. And you
[00:19:27] Arlene: know what and so I’ve talked about kinda the emotional part, but just think of it.
This is a very expensive item. So you’re about to give your child a very expensive item. So they should exhibit like the responsibility to not lose it, to take care of it to so even just thinking okay, does my child do their chores? Does my child do their homework without asking. Is my child mature.
Does my child pack their own lunch? Do they do their own laundry? And if you’re saying no to these things, but they promise if you get me a phone, I promise I’ll do you know, that’s not gonna happen. And so your child has to prove trustworthy and every child is different. You might have a 14 year old who handles social media really well, and a 16 year old where it would just be their undoing.
Doesn’t have to be age based. A lot of times as parents, we think, oh, it’s gotta be fair at 13, everyone gets this. No, you look at your individual child and you even do it on a test basis that, Hey, we’re gonna just try this for one month and if it works well, then we’ll continue by a month by month basis.
But if it doesn’t work well, We love you so much that there’s no way we want you to go to the dark side. You know what I’m saying? Like it’s rooted in love. So let them know when you get a phone, this isn’t like carp blanche okay, you got a phone now for the rest of your life. If we see in a month that, wow, this is like a, really a downward spiral for you, we’re gonna take it.
And it’s, we’re gonna do something else.
[00:20:56] Hunter: It’s funny, Arlene, cuz you hit the nail on the head for me because my 11 year old is like looking forward to because her sister got a phone at 13 and she thinks that she’ll get a phone at 13. And right now my husband are a little I don’t know, she’s exhibiting more like just unable to get off the iPad kind of behaviors and not able to have be, have that restraint.
It’s not her fault. It’s and her sister, it was a different thing. Like her sister actually tried out. It was amazing. Like she actually tried out TikTok at the beginning of the pandemic and had TikTok on her phone for six months or something. And she took it off on her own because she felt like it was like messing with her brain.
Wow. I was like, wow, good for you.
[00:21:47] Arlene: To your daughters. That’s
[00:21:48] Hunter: amazing. Good job. You did that, yeah. But I don’t think that’s probably not normal. sure. Yeah. So
[00:21:55] Arlene: that’s so right. And then that shows you, and one thing in screen kids that we help parents understand is think of it as casual at risk or addicted.
So like a casual user, someone who plays a video game one weekend with their dad, and then doesn’t talk about it for two weeks and then they pick it up again and they play and they might play for 20 minutes. Walk away. It’s no big deal. Like a girl on social media. Once in a while, she’ll check once a week, she checks in, she doesn’t.
We look at it every minute is fine. Casual. Then your at-risk person is okay, you’re supposed to play games on the weekends, but every day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you’re asking, can I play a game? Can I play a game? Can I, okay, you’re at risk. You really like this stuff.
And then of course you’re addicted is, oh, you can’t go one or two days without social media without. The game. And then, wait a minute, this is getting a little bit too much sway. If you do the camping trip over the summer for three days without wifi and people are in tears, then you know, like this there’s something wrong here.
Like we are out of whack.
[00:22:53] Hunter: We wanna ideally right as parents, we wanna, we don’t wanna, it’s like the proverbial pot of boiling water, right? The frog in the pot. Yeah. Like we wanna. Have those limits be healthy enough? So that our kids, we don’t have to do the painful pulling back once we’ve already opened the gates, right?
Yeah. Like we wanna just open the gate kind of slowly enough so that they learn about it, learn about themselves and they’re not totally. They’re not totally outta touch their friends. Yeah.
[00:23:29] Arlene: And I can tell you, I have a 17 year old and he’s driving and when you drive, you, don’t just say oh, here’s the keys.
Have a good time, like you’re training. And that’s the same way with technology. And, we talked about their moms. I know you’re listening and we’re all over the place with their technology. So I am the totally, I hope you feel like I’m a nice person, but I’m a totally weird strict mom. You. We have a 17 year old.
So a senior in high school, we have a sophomore in high school and we have a seventh grader. None of them have phones. We’re not afraid of technology. They have, they edit things. They have editing software. We’ve got computers at home. Of course they have the tablets that come from school. So it’s not like they don’t have technology.
They have all this stuff, but they do not have a personal phone. They don’t play video games. They’re not on social. And they knew like all growing up oh my mom’s like this researcher that researched all this bad things but to their brain. So they knew like growing up, this is our thing, but here’s the deal.
They do it, let’s say at the beginning, because that’s the way we raise them. Those are the rules. Like you’re little and you gotta listen to our rules, but now that they’re teenagers, it’s super interesting because they’ve embraced a lot of the things that we’ve taught, just like your daughter with TikTok and taking it off herself.
And so we did a little documentary with them. So I could, while they were still in high school, you could hear it from their own mouth. You know what my daughter, for instance, saying, people will be. Good for you that you don’t have a phone and she’d be like, what? She was so surprised.
One girl said good for you because you’re not addicted. Like we are. And so it’s been interesting for them to see that you, and obviously you can have friends, you can all these things and you don’t have to be in these things. As my son said, there are people who won’t be your friends.
because you don’t play a certain video game or you’re not on social media. You don’t have anything in common and you’re not gonna be their friend. But he said, I found there’s like tons of people who yes, they play video games. Yes. They’re on social media, but they’re happy to be your friend cuz you’re other commonalities.
And he’s those are the people I find are the people you want to be friends with. That’s a quality of friend that you want. So I know a lot for moms. We’re afraid that if we raise our kids D. Oh, my goodness. Our kid’s gonna be the one alone and the cafeteria being alone and not having any friends and at graduation with no friends.
And it’s totally, it’s not that way. Like they can have such a good quality, like the quality of their friendships is higher because it’s not just around a gaming console. It’s not just around social media.
[00:25:57] Hunter: This is interesting, Arlene. I, now I have so many questions. yes. So wait, so your 17 year old doesn’t have the phone.
Yeah, correct. Okay. And we
[00:26:07] Arlene: live in San Diego. Okay. And they go to public school. So it’s not like you’re like under a rock in the woods. You I’m. Serious. Yeah. Yeah. You’re not
[00:26:15] Hunter: the
[00:26:16] Arlene: captain. Fantastic family. Yeah. And the, my, my son is the captain of the debate team. My daughter’s managing the boys’ tennis team and is on the tennis team.
Like they’re not hermits. They have friends. They’re very active, but they don’t have phones.
[00:26:28] Hunter: what did you do during the pandemic? When everybody was like all doing remote schooling. And do you have a landline? No. So do they have the cord pulled into the closet that way?
[00:26:38] Arlene: I did. So they use my phone the way.
The people of the last generation would’ve used a home phone. So they use my phone to talk to their friends and honestly, so there is a family iPad. So that’s what my daughter, Lucy, the seventh grader, she tended to talk to her friends on that. And then we have Chromebooks, we have IMAX, so everyone has a device.
So they would talk to their friends on their devices. Text their friends using my phone, my son, Ethan. He has a Google voice number, which allows him to do all his group chats. And all his texting is just done on a computer instead of on a phone. Okay. So it’s not, and that’s how we got around that.
So he has a Google voice number, so he teaches piano lessons, for instance. So he’ll like at first I was so worried. Like he doesn’t have a phone, but it works. Yeah. Like he gives the new family. Here’s my number. They don’t know it’s a Google voice number. They text him. Here’s when my kids coming, he texts him back.
Like it totally works. So it’s and actually with him the 17 year old we’ve told him and talked about. Do you wanna get a phone? Like you’re a senior now. We’re okay with that. And he’s no, he’s I’m good. This is all working. And he also doesn’t wanna pay for it. Cuz we’ve always believed that when the children start having a phone, they’ve gotta have some skin in the game.
They have to start paying for it. Some part of it or else. Yes. Or else they don’t understand that this isn’t free. This does cost money.
[00:27:58] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. My daughter who has a phone, she pays every month. Half of good for her
[00:28:05] Arlene: and good for you.
[00:28:07] Hunter: Huh? This is so mind boggling, right? Yes. Is mind boggling.
[00:28:11] Arlene: And I will tell you, my daughter, who’s a sophomore. She’ll say mom, I would like to have a phone. I think life would be a lot easier, but she never gives me grief about it. She doesn’t hate me. Like we’re, she knows, they know we’re for them. And I think it’s so important that if your kids know you’re for them, You want to take them to activities that they love.
You wanna nurture them. If they’re interested in art, like you take them to art. My daughter loves horses like you do, and so we take her to lessons. They know you’re for them. You’re not trying to be a killjoy in your li in their life, but you’re trying to protect them from things that, that you believe are life stealing that are joy stealing.
Like we think this is a huge waste of time. You’re gonna have your whole adult life to be glued to your phone. So enjoy. Childhood, that’s the vibe and it’s worked out really well. And I think, my, my kids are just as prone, like any other kid, they, so they use my Instagram account to follow all the people they like.
So it’s funny. So the hit for me is all my daughter’s interests. Just fill my Instagram feed. So I just never see anything I’m interested in because it’s all their interest. But guess what? This lets me know who they are. And. It puts, it’s also shows me how their, inclination. I don’t know.
I think it’s really good. And I don’t mind making that sacrifice so that they don’t have their own device. I
[00:29:34] Hunter: mean, and that could actually be good for you. Like you’re probably less prone to buying shoes in the classroom. Instagram.
[00:29:41] Arlene: exactly. This is also, it’s like all this tennis stuff, it’s perfect.
I can, I, this is not tempting to be at all. You’re
[00:29:47] Hunter: so right. oh my gosh. Yeah, I just had a question in my mind for you, but I think it’s oh yeah. So what is the way. You talk to your kids about this. How do you explain to them? Because I think that many of us may be very educated as to what’s happening, the addictiveness of social media.
Yeah. We know about the study that Facebook had on its own, about right. How Instagram made. Girls feel bad about their bodies. We know. Yeah. We may know about all of this, but how do you communicate that? Yeah. In a way that makes sense to your kids. I.
[00:30:28] Arlene: Have to say. So if you’re listening to this and you have younger children, lean in, because this was never a hard conversation for us ever with two girls and a boy, because as they’re growing up, like they’re living the other way.
They’re living the way where you are doing stuff instead of watching people do stuff. So they like that. So I remember in sixth grade, my son, Ethan went to school, large public school, over a thousand kids. And he said, mom, we came back from summer break and all my friends were like, you don’t play video games.
That’s so awful. What did you do all summer? And I’m wondering like, and they’re really like, laid into him and I’m wondering, how did he answer. And he said, mom, I said to them, you don’t know how to play the piano. You don’t know how to play TaeKwonDo. You don’t even know who Winston Churchill is.
I guess he was talking to them cause he was really in a world war II then and so once they taste. There are other things to do in life. They like it. If you’re lining them with the way they’re created, the way that God has shaped them, you’re lining them with that. They come to life. And so they notice things like my daughter, Lucy, who’s now in seventh grade, she’d be in sixth grade and be like, mom, the boys in my class, they can’t stop thinking about video games.
Like even when they’re in school, All they talk about is video games. And they’re thinking about it all the time, mom, and they can’t learn, like she’s seeing this. And so if your children are they, they see it themselves and you give them the freedom to see it themselves like talking to them about what do you think about that?
What do you think about that boy that came over to play at our house and he sat on the iPad the whole time. What do you think about that? So you are engaging them and as they are older, you are asking questions, but it’s amazing that if you will raise your kids during those elementary school years with really strong relationships in the home strong examples of what friendship really looks like, they understand.
That social media is counterfeit. They understand that video games. Yeah. They’re super fun, but they’re really not productive. Like they get that. They understand that.
[00:32:37] Hunter: It’s interesting. I feel like I’m so with you on one sense of it, but on the other sense, like my, I see there’s my husband work makes electronic music and.
He does all his, like creativity is via computer.
[00:32:55] Arlene: See, I’m still thinking vegetable cause he’s
[00:32:57] Hunter: creating vegetable, but there’s also like some, there are some video games that are really very beautiful pieces of artwork. And in fact, I think, I also think like Minecraft is like very creative, right?
This. Stuff in there and it’s a different medium to do that. Yeah. But on the other hand, I don’t want it to, I also, I want their life to be about, to be filled with like things like going on hikes together. Yeah. And like my one daughter doing the riding and the other daughter doing her Scouts and all these different things.
Like I want those, I don’t want it to pull away from those things too. And I think that they think I’m a little bit of a they think I’m a little, like overly freaked out about, you
[00:33:43] Arlene: just have to tell them about me, be like, you should hear the mom I talk to today. They think you’re a Saint.
They’ll love you. but I, yeah, I hear what you’re saying. And so what I am saying, I’m not, this is an option is what I mean, and a lot of times we look back and we think, oh, I regret. That I let them play that game, or I regret that I gave that phone because it resulted in so many problems.
It doesn’t have to result in problems, but many times it does. Yeah. But for the person who says, I’m not giving social media, I’m not gonna do the video games at home. I’m not gonna do the phone. Believe me, you will never look back never and say, wow, I really regret that. You’ll only be, I really wish I did.
I really wish I would’ve given my daughter a phone at 13. No, I really wish she would’ve been on TikTok for her entire senior year. I really wish that It’s you just don’t wish it. And so you do have to choose which path you want. And there could be a moderate path, like you’re talking about where you are enjoying all these things of life, but they are playing Minecraft.
They are doing this, but I know for a lot of families that once you get started, it’s hard. Like it’s hard to get them to put those limits just because it is so well crafted to keep their attention. And, but again, like we talked about, every kid is different. That some kids might be able to do it. And it’s not a big thing.
It’s just one part of their life. It’s not a big thing. And that there are other kids that it will be more problematic. So again, check your child, watch your child, see what their tendencies are.
[00:35:13] Hunter: Yeah. I really appreciate that. Alright, so just to recap, zero to two, let’s try no, no screen time, right?
[00:35:26] Arlene: Two to five. Let’s say that you’re watching that half an hour. And of course it’d be lovely to co, but we know you’re probably not co-viewing. And then in elementary school just aside, if you’ve got kids in that age break, just decide they’re not gonna get a phone. They’re not gonna get social media.
You may feel like you’re the only one, but let’s just think about this. They’re in fourth grade, they’re in fifth grade, they’re in sixth grade. They don’t need to be glued to their phone. They need to be. Just make the decision. And I love what bill gates did. He didn’t give his kids smartphone until 14.
So I love to say if bill gates who knew something about technology waited until high school, there is something there.
[00:36:07] Hunter: Yeah. And I, and I. And it’s funny too, because the whole safety issue, I think, is so weird. Be not weird. Yes. It’s like whatever people we live in a very fearful culture, so there’s a lot of fears that yes, that arise for people.
But the whole idea of being able to reach your kid, anytime I think is so interesting because. Everybody has a phone now, like there are phones everywhere. Like your kid can just tap on anyone’s shoulder and be like, can I borrow your phone to call my mom? I had to teach my daughter when she started volunteering at the barn to use the phone in the office to call me.
She’s I should have a phone cuz I’m gonna be on my own and I might need to go just use the phone in the office. She’s like, where is it? 10 feet. How do. The buttons. It was crazy, oh my gosh. But now she’s totally fine with that. I totally love that so much so interesting. Like there, and there are phones everywhere, right?
[00:37:03] Arlene: that’s, we’ve always felt all that any of our children ever had to do was go, Hey, could I use your phone to their friend? And boom, we’re done. We used to have to find a phone booth. Our kids have it so easy.
[00:37:13] Hunter: Yeah. I was stuck once as a teenager, in a situation in Providence, Rhode Island at night and I had to I had to, wanted to use, make a phone call and I had to ask somebody for the quarter and someone thought they thought I was homeless.
And I was like, I have a five bill. I just need to use the phone. It’s just it was a whole other world then. Yes. Okay And then when they’re in high school, elementary school and high school, I guess I’m trying to think of if we could provide a bracket of half an hour, but two to five or, two or three to five.
Yeah. And then five to middle school maybe were. We’re looking at what, like an hour, a day or something like
[00:38:00] Arlene: that. I like to, to say that two hours or less of that digital candy for many people, and this is, junior high and high school, you’d be doing pretty. I compare it’s weird. Cuz comparatively speaking you’d be really doing well because most kids, statistically are getting seven hours a day of digital candy.
So if you’re down to two hours, you’re like sweet. I’m doing good, but I know, you think about it the hours that they have after school and different things, two hours is still a big chunk of time. So for you’re listening, it still might be one hour or less of the digital candy or half an hour, less, whatever.
So you think about this for your family. And I think. We get sometimes stuck in comparing and we’ll think at least I’m not as bad as that, or, or whatever. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But for your own family, what ideally would you like each day? How much time would you like? And I had a friend Dana Gresh and she brought her teenagers and just said, Hey, let’s write down your priorities right now.
What are the things you wanna give your time to? So they’d write down whether it’s music or sports or church or volunteering and they’d write it down. Okay. How does that look like in a week? And then they realized like, where does social media and video games fall into this?
And they themselves decided oh I get it. I should probably just spend a half an hour with this. So I. Do all these things, which I’m saying are important in my life. So help your children, have a family meeting where, or just meet with them one on one where you say, Hey, let’s draw up your priority list this year.
What would a great year look like for you? What do you wanna get better at? What do you wanna spend time doing? What would that look like each week? How many hours a week do we have to invest in that? Okay, let’s do that. And let your child discover that, oh, I can plan for this. And maybe those digital vegetables shouldn’t be taking over six hours a.
[00:39:50] Hunter: I like that. I love that idea of like plan for the priority. That’s really cool. Okay. One final question. And it’s a little bit of a challenging one. Say the listener ha has some limits. It’s an hour, it’s having hour, whatever for your child for. And you don’t have a DVD player and you do have YouTube, but just loops around and whatever, how to hold those boundaries, how to pull ’em away.
What are some, any advice on that? Yeah,
[00:40:21] Arlene: We had an old fashioned tiger and we actually bought it on Amazon. It was a cube. I wish I had it with me to show me, but it basically was this time when it had 15. 30 60 on the sides of it. And we just flip it. And that was like a visual reminder to your child that, okay, when this thing beeps your time’s over and for young children, they really respond to that.
They get it like, oh, it’s beeping, it’s over. it’s over, so if you have something external that makes a noise that they can use, that’s hopefully not a, not your watch, so something that you can sit down and you can look at, if it has to be your watch, that’s fine. But for your child to.
And that you’re not too far away. So you know what they’re watching and if they’ve ventured off in a weird place and really you do have to be there at the end of that half hour, because what ends up happening of course is that half hour goes so fast and you’re just starting whatever task you were doing.
And then you just feel oh, let me just let ’em watch in their half hour cuz you know, whatever. But you really have to tell yourself, get over there and get ’em off. And I will say this with our young kids. If you give them books. And art supplies and blocks and Legos, they will do that. So I think we sometimes have such a low expectation of what kids can do.
Mitch album Tuesdays with Mor he runs this orphanage in Haiti and he says, because the kids don’t have any technology. They act like kids and all day long, they could just. Play with bubbles, like for the whole day, like they are born with a sense of curiosity and wonder, and they can handle that.
So I think for us as parents, don’t be worried about leaving your kid. Oh, they don’t have anything to do. That’s good. Even when they’re in junior high and beyond, that’s good. Let them be creative.
[00:42:07] Hunter: Yeah. Boredom is the birth of creativity. Yes. You just have to like, yeah. Just something to do is right around the corner.
It’s okay to be bored. It’s okay. It is. And it’s okay for us to hold those boundaries and, and say, sorry, this is it. We have to turn it off and that’s gonna. That’s a whole challenge. But,
[00:42:29] Arlene: Yeah. Yeah. And what, if you are listening to me and you’re like, I do not believe this lady
I think all her kids are on phones right now, so you can watch that scream, kids film, it’s something free that you can watch or by donation. And that’s at happy home university.com and it’s something I have a 15 minute version of it, where my kids are just talking. It’s something you can show to your sixth grader, seventh grader, teenager, and just say, Hey, I just want you to watch this.
And then be like, what do you think about that? And it’s just something to talk about. So there, there are different ways to get this conversation going.
[00:43:05] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. Arlene, this has been so helpful. I hope it’s inspiring for people. I know that the you listening, you might have questions. Where can people, you can absolutely reach out to me at, on Instagram at Mindful line mentor.
Ironically, I’m giving you an Instagram tag to start this conversation. But but where can they reach out to you to continue
[00:43:29] Arlene: this conversation? Yes. So I have my happy home podcast and also that website, I just gave you the happy home university.com. We have a masterclass about screen kids. So if your interest is peaked and you’re wondering, but you’re just feel a bit lost and not knowing where to start.
That’s a great next step, the screen kid’s master class. And then the book is called screen kids and that’s co-authored with Dr. Gary chap.
[00:43:53] Hunter: Awesome. Who is five love languages. Amazing. Yes. Author. I I would love to talk to him about that. So if you wanna introduce us again. Yes. But anyway, this is amazing.
I really enjoyed this. Arlene you’re bolstering my confidence to be the boring. Yes.
[00:44:13] Arlene: Yes. And I hope wherever you are listener on this continuum that you don’t leave discouraged that you don’t leave. Oh my goodness. I’m so like in so much, no, that you’re like, Hey, you got. A new idea today. Today’s a great day for our fresh start.
Maybe all it means is, Hey, we’re gonna have a screen free meal time, or it’s like, Hey, this weekend, let’s have a talk about our screen time. And really, if you start it with you asking your child, what do you think about Mama screen time? Now that teenager is more ready to have a conversation with you about theirs.
So that’s a way you can always start.
[00:44:49] Hunter: So cool. What a great idea. Open it up with vulnerability. So smart. I love it, Arlene. Okay, so everyone check out the books, screen kids, and thank you so much, Arlene, for taking the time to talk with us today was so much fun. It was much fun out your video of your kids in the phones.
I think I’m gonna show to my kids. Exactly. Look, they’re not aliens. See it’s okay. Thank you so much. Thank you.