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Navigating Phones and Social Media with our Kids (Ep 96+97 )

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Today’s episode is one that has been weighing on my heart for quite some time. In today’s digital age, parenting comes with a whole new set of challenges, especially when it comes to managing your children’s access to smartphones and social media. As a parent, you want to ensure your kids are safe, responsible, and emotionally balanced in their online interactions. But where do you even begin?

Join me on this journey as we dive deep into the world of parenting in the digital era. Drawing from personal experiences and expert insights, I’ll share practical tips and strategies to help you navigate the delicate balance of technology in your child’s life.

PART ONE (Episode 96):

PART TWO (Episode 97):


Setting Goals as Parents

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of phones and social media, let’s get clear on our objectives as parents. Our mission is twofold: we want to keep the lines of communication open with our kids while teaching them how to use technology responsibly. Ultimately, we aim to help them strike a balance where they can harness the benefits of technology without being consumed by it.

Introducing Phones and Social Media

Deciding when to introduce smartphones and social media to our kids is a big decision. While there’s pressure to jump in early, holding off as long as possible can pay off in the long run. Many suggest waiting until around age 14, starting with limited devices like watches, and then slowly easing into smartphones with strict guidelines on app usage and no access to social media.

Teaching Self-Regulation

One of the most crucial skills we can teach our kids is self-regulation, especially in a world where tech companies design platforms to keep users hooked. By having candid conversations about the addictive nature of technology and its impact on mental health, we empower our kids to take control of their tech habits and prioritize their well-being.

Promoting Self-Confidence and Self-Love

Excessive screen time and comparison culture on social media can take a toll on our kids’ mental health. We can combat this by educating them about the negative effects of constant scrolling and encouraging genuine connections beyond screens. Helping them build self-confidence and self-love offline is just as important as managing their online interactions.

Implementing Boundaries and Resetting Habits

Establishing boundaries around screen time and occasionally taking breaks can be effective strategies for maintaining balance. While it may be challenging, consistency and open communication are key. When slip-ups happen, we treat them as learning opportunities and realign with our goals.

Having Open Conversations

Keeping the lines of communication open with our kids about technology is essential. Approaching these discussions with empathy and understanding can ease tension and resistance. Collaborating on setting boundaries and experimenting with different approaches allows for mutual understanding and adjustment along the way.

Navigating the digital landscape with our kids is no easy feat, but it’s crucial for their well-being and development. By setting clear goals, teaching self-regulation, promoting self-confidence and self-love, implementing boundaries, and fostering open conversations, we equip our children with the tools they need to thrive in a tech-driven world while safeguarding their mental and emotional health. Remember, every effort we make towards mindful tech usage is a step in the right direction.

Links You Need:

Social Media Etiquette – 5 good habits we should all follow!

A New Approach to Social Media (this one is for us and our habits)

The Social Dilemma Documentary on Netflix

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter

Sample Cell Phone Contract

Other Episodes You’ll Love:

Ep 21: Helping Our Kids Balance The Busy

Ep 64: Balancing Overwhelm During College Applications

Ep 43: Burnout in Our Kids

[00:00:00] Leah: This episode has been on my heart for months and months, and it’s taken me that long to have the courage to even record it. The conversation I want to have today is about phone usage, social media, and our kids. And I’ve asked myself many times, why am I having such a hard time actually recording this episode?

[00:00:26] Leah: It has been slated in. So many times over the last six months. And then I just keep pushing it and I just keep pushing it. And I think what it comes down to is that we are each in different places. And if you were here with me and we were getting to have a conversation together, one on one, I would ask you, how old are your kids?

[00:00:48] Leah: Where are your, where are you at right now? And I just don’t know that. I don’t know if you’re in a position where you’re just barely starting the journey of. Social media and phones and all that with your kids, or maybe you’re honestly in a place where you’re feeling really discouraged. You can now look back and see that you wish you would have done things differently, and it feels like you’re stuck.

[00:01:14] Leah: And I just don’t want to be a discouragement for any. trying to navigate all of this, it is already hard enough. So my hope is that this can be such a helpful resource for you and that no matter where you are, you’re going to pull things. And if you are in a place where you know some big changes need to happen, that I can maybe give you a little bit of courage to make those changes.

[00:01:45] Leah: It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be uncomfortable, but I also think it’s really, really worth it. So with all of that, let’s dive in and talk about navigating this digital playground. Phones, social media, and our kids.

[00:02:09] So here’s how I plan to have this episode go down. Basically, I want to talk about phones and social media, which are separate, right? We introduce phones, then we introduce social media, possibly. I want to share with you exactly how we’ve done it in our home, and I’m going to share with you some of the research that is out there.

[00:02:47] Leah: But I thought it could be really good to just start with a foundation, which is a foundation. To establish what is the goal, what is the goal that we have as parents when it comes to phones and social media. And to me, the reason we want them to have a phone is so that we can communicate with them, right?

[00:03:06] Leah: Like that’s the real reason we want to be able to get ahold of them. And then our goal on a bigger scale is to teach our kids how to use technology and not be used by technology. Bottom line is, social media, technology, it’s obviously not going anywhere. This is something that our kids are going to have integrated into their lives.

[00:03:30] Leah: We have it integrated into our lives. And if we’re all being completely honest, we each know that we have times where we aren’t utilizing technology the way we should. It’s really kind of using us. So if we as grown ups struggle, then of course, our kids are going to need a lot of guidance and help and patience and advocacy, honestly, like we’ve got to advocate on their behalf for them.

[00:03:58] Leah: There’s a article that I was reading and Jeff, I think his last name is probably Stauer, uh, he’s a licensed marriage and family therapist. He said, we don’t need to overreact and completely eliminate technology from our lives. Instead, we need to put technology in its proper place so that it serves our relationships instead of eroding them.

[00:04:20] Leah: And I really, really liked that. That brought me to yes. And, and that’s the goal. The goal is to teach our kids how to use technology and not be used by technology.

[00:04:30] Leah: So where do we go from there? The first conversation is going to be about when do we introduce phones and social media to our kids? This is stark, but I heard it said once, hand your kids a phone when you’re ready for them to stop being a kid. And honestly. And the more I’m seeing, the more I realized that there is so much truth in that statement.

[00:04:54] Leah: So I would highly suggest hold off as long as possible, as long as possible. Yes, they’re going to tell you, I am the only one without a phone. Yes. They’re going to work you and work you and work you and it’s going to be hard, but. That’s part of parenting, right? Like we are willing to do the hard things for them.

[00:05:17] Leah: So we waited till about age 14 for each of our kids, and that felt really good. They each started with a watch, which was great because it gave us that answer of, okay, we need to be able to communicate. They have activities after school. We need to know. When to come pick them up, that they got their safe, all those kind of things.

[00:05:37] Leah: And so a watch was the answer. Um, there are some watches like the gab phone or is it the gab watch? I know there’s some options like that. For us, we just did Apple Watches, and it was just a watch. The thing that you have to remember is that it’s always on speakerphone.

[00:05:52] Leah: So, the negative of a watch is definitely that sometimes you want to ask questions and get a little more detail, but you have to be remembering all the time, oh yeah, they’re in public, they’re on speaker, they might not appreciate that question, or me saying something that could embarrass them. So that’s the negative, but the positive is They’re just limited to a watch.

[00:06:12] Leah: They’re not gonna, they’re not going to get addicted to this thing and be on it all the time. They can’t get off because, you know, it’s not very convenient to try to do everything on a watch. So we started with watches and then we evolved into phones. Um, we went the route of using iPhones. We had some conversations with friends and we’re already a full Apple family, but we were specifically told that it was.

[00:06:35] Leah: It’s really easy to dumb down the iPhones, um, at this point now it’s just as easy to dumb down androids and there’s even flip phone options, which is really great. I mean, then you really do have a dumb phone. So we. I started with iPhones for us personally when they were 14 and they were basically just a phone.

[00:06:56] Leah: There were certain apps that were really more uplifting spiritual apps that they could have unlimited time on, but everything else was a no go. 

[00:07:05] Leah: They were very limited with what apps were allowed. They each had to be approved through us. They had time limits on how long they could be on them. And there was zero social media. Zero.

[00:07:15] Leah: So going back a moment, I think it’s really important for us to realize what we’re trying to teach them. We want them to be able to utilize technology because technology is powerful. It’s amazing and it does connect us. But, The goal of these giant tech companies is to use us. So we have to be vigilant because they are putting the most brilliant minds with the biggest paychecks towards figuring out how to use us and how to keep us on their platforms because that’s how they make money.

[00:07:50] Leah: So one of the first things that I think is critical to focus on is we need to teach them self regulation. And we can utilize phones, we can utilize this technology and help them to learn and understand self regulation. There was an article that I read a year, two years ago that was just, has always stuck with me.

[00:08:13] Leah: And it was actually in a book as well. Uh, there was, on Y Combinator. On their Hacker News, there was a post in 2019, and this is what it says. I’m the dev, so the developer. I’m the dev that built Netflix autoplay of the next episode. He goes on to explain that they’re always A B testing, okay? They’re always split testing new features against two KPIs.

[00:08:40] Leah: Number one, hours watched. How long can they keep you watching? And number two, retention. They test new features to small groups, about 100, 000 people. And if hours watched or retention went up, the feature stayed. If it didn’t, it was scrapped. Well, when autoplay was introduced, now just taking a break, this is how, you know when you’re watching a show now?

[00:09:04] Leah: The little thing goes along the screen and the next one is loading up and it’s just going to autoplay your next episode. When autoplay was introduced there was a massive uptick in hours watched. It was the biggest increase of hours watched from any feature that Netflix had ever tried. They even tested the countdowns.

[00:09:23] Leah: They tested to figure out what was the correct amount of time. Before the next show that got people to continue watching, they tried five seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, and they landed on 10 seconds. But here’s what’s interesting. That was 2019 that he shared about this. Today, it’s no longer 10 seconds.

[00:09:45] Leah: It’s cut by half. And I think that’s so fascinating and important to think about because before. 10 seconds was the sweet spot. We’d be thinking about it. If they did it too fast, we’re like, no, I’m not watching another one. Now I see it as our attention span has gone down even more. The next one needs to start faster and that’s how they keep us.

[00:10:08] Leah: And we’re talking about Netflix. We’re not even talking about YouTube or Instagram or Tik Tok or any of the other platforms we’re talking about. Netflix, which is one that we feel relatively okay. Right? They have the parent filter, you’re watching, you’re on the family plan, whatever it might be, and Netflix is trying to ensure that they keep us as long as possible.

[00:10:30] Leah: So is YouTube, so is Instagram, so is TikTok, so is every other platform that is out there. We are the product, and they make money the longer that they keep us. So helping our kids to really understand that they’re trying to keep us in. And there’s an entire life and experience that we want to live and we don’t want to let our devices rob us of that.

[00:10:59] Leah: There is an incredible book called Irresistible and I highly recommend reading it. I I read it, loved it, and I knew I wanted my kids to hear it, but I wanted to be very cognizant of not making it seem like mom’s making you read this. So what I would do is I would get them in the car and I would just get really excited and I’d be like, you guys, I’m reading this book and I’m loving it so much.

[00:11:25] Leah: Do you mind if we listen to it for a little while? And I would press play and make sure that they were listening to it, especially certain sections that I really wanted them to hear. And I’m going to have links to everything that I possibly can in the show notes that we’re talking about, because there’s some really great resources that I found, and I want to make sure you have access to all those.

[00:11:44] Leah: Okay, the next thing that we want our kids to have is self confidence, right? When we’re thinking about, like, we want to launch these kids into the world to be amazing, vibrant, confident humans. They need to have self regulation. They need to have self confidence. And so thinking about technology. Again, we know it is clear the data is obvious at this point that links excessive technology use to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

[00:12:20] Leah: And I don’t even think many of us even need to have the research studies tell us that anymore. We can look around and we can see kids that we love suffering. And we can see that there is also an extensive or excessive use of technology, and we can see there must be a correlation. There was a recent study that showed the difference that happens in our brains, whether we are connecting or interacting via text or by voice.

[00:12:52] Leah: And when we’re talking to someone on the phone or in person. Serotonin is released, which is that feel good, that happy hormone that, you know, releases throughout our body and makes us feel good and connected and it’s, it’s the happy hormone. It does not happen when texting is the form of communication.

[00:13:12] Leah: There was no serotonin. And I think about. Technology. I think about how our kids are going more and more to just texting and not actually talking to people. I think about how they, you know, just scroll and scroll and, and feel like, Oh, I’m overwhelmed. I want to zone out. And we do it to his parents. Like, let’s be honest.

[00:13:32] Leah: So do we. Right. And all of those things, they’re killing our self confidence. They’re killing our ability to see our own value, to connect with others, to build and strengthen relationships. Yeah. So thinking about that component when it comes to technology, and then the last is self love, right? We want them to be self regulating, we want them to be self confident, we want them to be self reliant, and we want them to have self love, .

[00:14:02] Leah: And again, the research is so, so clear. The more time people spend on Facebook and Instagram and, Other social media channels, , the more they compare themselves socially. And we don’t even need research to tell us this. I think about that all the time. You know, I, I love pouring over these studies and looking at them, but I’m like, Common sense tells me that when I’m on my phone too long, when I’ve been scrolling and scrolling, I will start to compare myself to everyone and I’m a grown up confident woman.

[00:14:33] Leah: And yet I’m sitting there and I’m like, Oh, I should have made my reel like that. Oh, I wish I was on a trip like that. Oh, she looks so good after having babies better than I do. Or every once in a while, someone’s doing worse than me. And so I’m still comparing myself, but in this very toxic negative way where I’m deciding I’m good enough because someone else isn’t doing as good in some area.

[00:14:57] Leah: And again, I’m a grownup. I’m a 40 something woman with a lot more experience. So I can’t even imagine how hard this is for our teenagers, especially our girls. There is a clear connection. It’s becoming more and more clear with each year on rising rates of depression and they coincide with smartphone usage.

[00:15:24] Leah: That’s the bottom line. There was a study published in 2017 in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, and it looked at social media, smartphone usage, K, that combo and depression and suicide death rates in more than 500,000 US students in years, eight to 12.

[00:15:43] Leah: Between 2010 and 2015. Now remember that’s almost a decade ago. They found a 33% increase in the number of adolescents with high levels of depressive symptoms, and 31% died by suicide. That was in 2015. We are in 2024.

[00:16:09] Leah: And that increase. Was massively driven by females.

[00:16:15] Leah: In the end of the study, the author of the study noted that the increase in depressive symptoms correlated with smartphone adoption over that period.

[00:16:26] Leah: And then there’s this whole other component, which honestly, I hadn’t really. contemplated because this is still so new for all of us. I mean, just having smartphones available all the time. We’re only just seeing the real effects because smartphones really weren’t introduced until what 2008 was the first iPhone.

[00:16:49] Leah: And so this is all so relatively new. We can’t see all of the, um, Um, we can’t see all of the ramifications all the way, but we’re starting to get more and more clear. And that’s why I feel like it’s so critical to have this conversation. One of the things that was pointed out that really has gotten me thinking is it’s not just what’s happening in the brain when they’re on their phone, when they’re connected to that device, when it goes from.

[00:17:24] Leah: Something that’s fun to an addiction. It’s also everything that they’re missing because they’re on the phone. And this I have seen, I can’t tell you how many times I have watched teenagers and I’ve seen one and it’s just their insecurities. That’s all it is. But they are glued to their phone because they’re so scared to look up.

[00:17:46] Leah: They’re so scared that maybe no one’s going to talk to them. They don’t know what to say. It feels uncomfortable. But they’re missing out on connecting because they look so closed off. And these are the kind of conversations we have to have with our kids. We have to point this out and show it to them and help them understand.

[00:18:05] Leah: If you want friends, you can’t be staring at your phone because you look closed off. You look unapproachable. And these conversations, they’re just ones that we need to have all the time with our kids in every situation.

[00:18:18] Leah: Okay, I’ve started really heavy and I’ve given you a lot of information and I think we as parents know that technology, phones, social media, it can do a lot of damage, but it doesn’t have to. And we can put. We can put things in place to protect our kids, to protect our homes, to protect our family unit and, and our bonds together.

[00:18:44] Leah: I, I believe there’s hope. There is hope. So that’s what I want to spend the rest of this episode talking about. And it may need to be several more conversations, but that’s what I want to talk about. So let me kind of share with you what we’ve done, and then I’ll just give you some additional tips. 

[00:19:03] Leah: So one thing I would recommend no matter where your kids are on the screen time timeline is Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma. We watched it as a family and it was a great kicking off point for us to just have a conversation and it wasn’t mom and dad preaching at them. It was them getting to see and hear from a totally different perspective.

[00:19:27] Leah: We’re all sitting down watching a Netflix episode and learning together. Now, here’s what our social media and phone path has looked like when they were small. So really small. I was very careful about how much screen time they watched, but I’m going to be totally honest. It was for selfish reasons. I needed screen time to work.

[00:19:48] Leah: I have been running a business and being a stay at home mom for my kids entire life. And I really needed to know that when I really needed to get something done. Um, I could distract them. So it was one single movie and that way they would watch it and not lose attention. What I found now is that it’s getting harder and harder for kids to even be able to watch just a movie that they’re not able to, they’re not able to keep retention in a movie.

[00:20:26] Leah: They get distracted. They want to also be looking at a tablet or a phone. My kids are older. They’re all in high school, tablets weren’t quite the thing when they were really little, but limiting screen time. There’s so much research out there when our kids are really little. It’s important. It’s hard. I get how convenient it is to hand them the phone.

[00:20:49] Leah: I get it. You want to actually enjoy dinner. You want to get through the grocery store without the outburst. You want to get through your errands. And not have pandemonium, I get it, but we are seeing that the long term effects are not worth those short term gains. They’re just not worth it. So instead, you gotta get creative, you gotta sing songs and play games and, you know, what they all did generations ago before we had access to all, all of these things.

[00:21:24] Leah: And it’s not too late to start. I have had so many times where screens became way too much of our life and all of a sudden, you know, I started catching and saying, Oh my gosh, all they ever want to do is be on their screens. They don’t seem to know how to not be on their screens. And so I would do a reset and I’d be like, no more screens.

[00:21:44] Leah: And of course, yes, they would cry and complain and tell me it’s the worst. And they’re so bored and they have no idea what to do and on and on and on. Here’s what I’ve learned after. Years and years and years of going through that. Number one, it takes about two weeks to reset them. I am serious. Two weeks, two weeks of no screens before they finally find their creativity again, learn how to play again, remember what they love.

[00:22:10] Leah: So it’s a process and you have to just. You’ve got to just bear it. Second is help them create a board list. So when we were having a moment that we felt really good, not in the moment right after I had taken away their screens, we would come up with a huge list of fun things they like to do. And so we called it the board list.

[00:22:32] Leah: If you’re bored, go look at the list. Go see if there’s something that looks fun that you’d want to do. And none of those things had anything to do with the screen. And then I Cut them off and we’d go through the horrible two weeks of, you know, figuring out how to be creative again, and things would get a whole lot better.

[00:22:51] Leah: Now, the trap I often fell in was we’d go several weeks, they’d had no screen time, everything was going so good, and, you know, one of them would come and say, Mom, I haven’t been on YouTube or played this video game in forever. Would it be okay if I played because it’s been so long and so and so, whatever, and I’m, sure, yeah, okay.

[00:23:10] Leah: And then somehow we’d slip back in. Now, I don’t think you need to, you know, completely remove technology. But I do think, have those boundaries. Know for yourself what it’s going to look like. Because I can’t tell you how many times we’d slip back in. That’s why I’ve done these many, many times. Like, I didn’t do it once and I never had to do it again.

[00:23:25] Leah: I had to do it several times. Because I’d be like, whoops, we’ve gone too far again. So, know that it’s possible no matter where they’re at.

[00:23:34] Leah: Now I am going to say, if you have a teenager, And it’s been a lot of years, it’s going to be really hard for them and it’s probably going to make them feel very anxious. Like their skin is crawling and they don’t know what to do and they’re not connected. And so I would say find the boundaries together and have a very real open conversation from a place of absolute love where you are sharing with them and explaining why you want this for them.

[00:24:04] Leah: Why you believe it’s going to be worth it, why you’re asking them to give this a try with you and make sure they know, you know, it’s a trial period. We’re trying this much of time because forever feels terrifying for any of us, but we can shift this. I don’t think we have to ever, ever believe that it’s too late.

[00:24:25] Leah: There is always hope.

[00:24:27] Leah: Okay, so as you’re coming to the preteen age. You are going to get a lot of the conversations of everyone has a phone mom. I’m the only person who doesn’t have a phone and it’s hard. You want your kids to not feel disadvantaged and be happy with you and all those things. But again, short term wins are not worth their long term success.

[00:24:48] Leah: It is just not worth it. And I would make lots of jokes like their moms are so much cooler than I am. I am so sorry that your mom is not as cool. But. You can know your mom fiercely loves you, so much so that I’m even willing to let you be upset with me, even though I hate when you’re upset with me. I mean, I just told them and shared with them, like, I’m sorry.

[00:25:13] Leah: Now, I’m going to say, you know what is so, so helpful? Uh, Dr. Cheryl Ziegler actually shared this. On our episode that we did, I’ll have it in the links. It was episode 43, avoiding mommy burnout and teaching our kids a better way. But one of the things I love that she talked about is go talk to the other parents early.

[00:25:31] Leah: Bind together, you know, make a little, make a little pact that you’re all going to hold off on cell phones. That way you can be like, ah, I know little Jenny and Taylor and. Ruby, I’m trying to come up with names on the fly, it’s not working. Anyways, I know they don’t have phones either because I’ve talked to their mom.

[00:25:51] Leah: So, that can really help. And then, I shared this before, but starting with a watch is a great transitionary. I need to be able to communicate with them. I do want to know where they are, but And then, remember it’s on speaker. If your only thing is like, I want to know where my kid is, grab an AirTag, go get an Apple AirTag and stick it on them.

[00:26:12] Leah: Okay? Like there’s a solution. Uh, but if you want to be able to communicate a little bit, you can start with a watch, you can have only five people that actually, my kids didn’t start with an, with a iPhone watch. They did start with, we happen to be T Mobile. So they started with the T Mobile kid watch, then went to the iPhone watch, then went to a phone.

[00:26:34] Leah: But starting with a watch can be a good transition. Okay, then at about 14 ish, that was the point when they got a phone. Now, we were not perfect. It was not like every single one of them on their 14th birthday got a phone, but essentially about 14 is when they got their phones. And we basically took a smartphone and tried to make it dumb.

[00:26:57] Leah: Now, we did iPhones. Because we’re familiar with them, we’re comfortable with them. And we had a lot of them extra that we were like, perfect. We already have some. But I think if I could go back, I would probably maybe do a flip phone. I would do a flip phone where it’s like, you can text, you can call, and I don’t think you need to do anything else.

[00:27:15] Leah: I would probably start that way, but we started with iPhones. So on our phones, we approved all apps. We had time limits. We definitely had parent checks in there, you know, parent controls and. All kinds of things to try to protect. We made it very, very normal. We can look at and check your phone whenever we want.

[00:27:37] Leah: We own the phone. We pay the contract. This is not your phone. I’m sorry. You are a minor. You do not get to have your privacy. Your phone is our phone and we get to look at it at any time. And we just made that clear before they ever got the phone. And just letting them know. We want to make sure we’re protecting you and we let them know there are bad people out there who want to try to Reach kids and our job is to protect you.

[00:28:08] Leah: That is literally my responsibility And so we are gonna check your phone And then I think what’s really critical is you need to make it a regular thing and you need to make sure you’re doing it When everything is great and tell them hey I was looking at your phone and I just wanted to congratulate you and tell you like I thought it was really cool that I So that your text message was so and so, that was really nice of you, or whatever it might be.

[00:28:29] Leah: Don’t only look at their phones when you’re suspicious. Because that’s going to, of course, create some angst and hostility. So just make it normal. It’s not a, oh, when we’re suspicious, we check your phone. It’s a, whenever we think about it, or on a regular, every Monday night or Sunday night, we check phones.

[00:28:48] Leah: And they just know that.

[00:28:49] Leah: Another thing I highly suggest, Don’t let technology go into bedrooms. It’s not worth it. The average child sees pornography at age 11. And it’s not because the kids were trying to find pornography. It’s because pornography is trying to find our children. And they can put in something that is seemingly so pure.

[00:29:16] Leah: It is so shouldn’t be anything. And it somehow sends them down some path. And those little brains are not mature enough. They’re not necessarily ready to turn away when they’re seeing something they’ve never seen before and are completely curious about, and they can get sucked in. The goal of those disgusting companies is to trap people.

[00:29:46] Leah: And so we have to understand that they’re trying to get our Children and we’re going to fight just as hard and a very simple way to help with that is that devices do not go in bedrooms. Everybody charges their phones upstairs on the kitchen island at night. And that way they’re not down in their rooms.

[00:30:05] Leah: And when our kids are like, Oh, what am I going to do for an alarm? Here, here’s an Alexa or here’s an old school alarm. That’s what you’re going to do. Like, just be ready. They’re going to give you excuses. They’re going to give you reasons. They’re really, really good at that, as they should be, as all of us were when we were teenagers, right?

[00:30:21] Leah: Like. That’s normal. It’s our job as parents to be ready to find a solution. There are no problems. Only solutions. Mom, I have to have my phone. It’s my alarm. Oh! I’m going to pick you up an alarm tomorrow. Don’t worry. You won’t need it. I will wake you up myself if I have to. So just be ready for what they’re going to throw at you and just know there’s a solution for everything.

[00:30:44] Leah: You can solve it. Another thing that can be really fun is having a contract. So the first time you give them a cell phone, you can do a contract. We’re actually working on creating a new one to be able to share with everybody. And it’s literally a phone contract. That’s like, here’s the rules. Here’s what we expect.

[00:31:01] Leah: Here’s what you get. And here’s where the contract gets broken and your phone could be taken away. So having a contract and then. I really, really like, um, Dr. Cheryl Ziegler, her suggestion was wait until a minimum of eighth grade and try to talk with other parents. I shared that with you. I think it’s so wise.

[00:31:22] Leah: You know, we said 14. Is that eighth grade? I don’t even know. I can’t remember now. But, um, somewhere in that range, the longer that you can wait, the better. It just It just really is. At age 16, we allowed social media to come in on their phones. Now I’m going to tell you right now that we did not make our youngest wait till 16.

[00:31:42] Leah: And I can explain that to you why it was a little bit different. Um, for our first two, they wanted social media for the social aspect, right? Like they wanted to see what friends are doing and share things and just scroll. That was the reason for social media. So they had to wait till they were 16. They started with Instagram.

[00:31:58] Leah: That’s the only social media that they had. And it’s actually on my phone. It’s not on their phone. So it’s on my phone. I’m the only one with the password. And so if they want to get onto social media, they have to say, Hey mom, can I look at your phone? And I hand them my phone and they, you know, have a timer or whatever, like here’s how long you can look and they can go on their Instagram account and look at social media.

[00:32:23] Leah: So it makes it very easy to help them learn to self regulate because they can’t just have never ending hours. They only get to look at social media if they have my phone. So that’s how we’ve done social media and we allowed no other options. No Snapchat, no TikTok, absolutely not. It was Instagram only.

[00:32:44] Leah: They do have Pinterest, um, which I look at it as a Search engine in the business world, but you know, with teenagers, it can again, create those feelings of comparison and searching and scrolling. So it’s always important to just think about that and having these conversations where we’re asking them all the time, like, how is it making you feel?

[00:33:04] Leah: Like, does it make you feel good? And if not, how can we shift that? And I think it’s helping them realize, you know, this is important for us too. If we feel like we’re realizing I don’t have a very good relationship with Instagram, like when I get off Instagram, I don’t feel good about myself. Okay, well then, is it that you need a break from Instagram?

[00:33:23] Leah: Do you need to quit Instagram? Or is it maybe just that you need to look at who you’re following and unfollow a few people that actually make you not feel good about yourself? And maybe it’s not even anything negative they’re doing, it’s just that it triggers some really strong feelings of comparison.

[00:33:39] Leah: So looking at those kinds of questions. So they all start with. Instagram, but only Instagram, no other social media platforms. And it’s on my phone. We did, uh, another social media platform that has come out is called Be Real, and we have let them do Be Real as well, but like our middle daughter, she took it off her phone.

[00:34:03] Leah: She said, I’m just realizing it doesn’t make me feel very good. I don’t, I don’t like how it feels. Because Be Real, it’s you’re seeing what your friends are doing. In real time and, you know, enough times of seeing your friends are doing something fun without you, it doesn’t feel very good, right? That’s, that hurts.

[00:34:20] Leah: I mean, when we were all kids, the only way you found out that your friends were all doing something together is because someone slipped and said something. Now, everybody wants to share and post and look like they’re having the best time and it really hurts when you realize, Oh, no one thought to invite me.

[00:34:37] Leah: So, you know, just again, it’s these open conversations all the time. And then their senior year, their senior year is when social media moves to their phone with time restrictions. And I think honestly, all of us should have time restrictions. Like I should have time restrictions. My husband has time restrictions.

[00:34:55] Leah: Like we don’t want to get sucked into the vortex and be like, oh my gosh, I just spent how much time wasted on. The scroll. And so with time restrictions, but social media moves to their phone because they’re about to go off to college. It’s time for them to really get comfortable and really practice self regulation.

[00:35:15] Leah: So it’s this, it’s this process. It starts with very little self regulation and a whole lot of parent regulation because they’re not ready yet. And over time, we’re going to evolve. I’m going to kind of graduate them through until it’s on their phone and they get to decide. And it has worked really well for us so far.

[00:35:35] Leah: We have three kids. Our oldest went off to college last year and she did absolutely phenomenal. You know, one of the things that she shared with me several times was that she’s She feels like she has a strength at organizing her schedule, knowing everything she has to do and getting it done in the proper order.

[00:35:52] Leah: And her roommates would be like, how are you always already done? And I think a lot of this helped teach her that self regulation to first things first, do the things she needed to do and not procrastinate or get sucked into these distractions. That, you know, can, can cause a whole lot of pain and grief and angst and we’ve all been there.

[00:36:14] Leah: So that has been how we have done phones and social media with our kids. Oh, I did want to tell you. So our youngest, our son, we did let him get Instagram early. But it was for a very different reason. He is, um, very talented at wakesurfing and has a huge dream to Make something of his wakesurfing and so we decided to let him get Instagram again only on my phone, but let him get Instagram so that he could post his wakesurfing only and work to build up a brand around that and that I feel totally good about.

[00:37:03] Leah: It’s still on my phone, um, and he He He didn’t get to post, he’s now 16, but he didn’t get to post things that weren’t around just that. And, you know, did our girls absolutely be like, what? We had to wait, but it was different. It’s not all going to be equal kids. Okay. You’re different. That’s just how it is.

[00:37:25] Leah: So that’s what we did with our youngest. Okay. Some additional tips. I think it is amazing to make it a regular thing to take. A break from fake. So several, several years ago, there was a challenge that was put out by the most incredible man, Russell M. Nelson, and he challenged, uh, there was millions of youth.

[00:37:50] Leah: On this, um, this call when he did it, um, or this training, and he challenged them all to take a 10 day break from fake and to really pay attention to how did they feel at the end, what happened, and I decided to jump along and do it because I am, uh, volunteer with our youth and I wanted to, you know, I Show my support and like, Oh, I’ll do it too.

[00:38:17] Leah: And I couldn’t believe what a difference it made for me as an adult. And so. I think we can take that and encourage our kids to take a break, see how they feel, see if it doesn’t lessen some of the sadness or the comparison or the anxiety or whatever it might be, and then make it a regular thing. That’s going to help them to not get dependent on their phone on technology.

[00:38:43] Leah: Next, don’t respond immediately when you see things that you don’t like, that are scary. We’re probably all going to come across something on our kids phones that is really scary, that is upsetting, where we realize, oh my gosh, how did that get through? How did that get in? What just happened? They broke the rules.

[00:39:03] Leah: I don’t know. I don’t know what all it’s going to look like. Don’t respond immediately. Try to give yourself a minute so that instead of responding from fear, which is, Oh my gosh, my child’s, all things are going wrong and trying to instead respond from love. We didn’t have these challenges when we were kids.

[00:39:25] Leah: We didn’t have to navigate all this. I am beyond grateful that there was not a camera documenting and uploading to stories all throughout my high school because I can tell you. I would not want some of that documented. I’m so grateful, but it is there for our kids. And so having conversations with them, talking to them about that and being patient and recognizing that they’re learning, it’s so important.

[00:39:49] Leah: And that brings me to having those conversations about how what you post, what other people post, what is shared it. Lives on even when you think it’s deleted. In fact, I just saw and it was a great opportunity. I had a conversation with my kids again. I just saw we just had the Super Bowl. As of this recording, and there was a post from Patrick Mahomes.

[00:40:15] Leah: And he had posted in high school, in 2013, something along the lines of, you probably saw it, Taylor wins everything. Something like that. Thank goodness that was completely unharmful and it was kind of funny and it’s like, oh, there’s Taylor Swift.

[00:40:33] Leah: You know, helping out the NFL and it was funny and it was harmless, but someone went and found that from 2013, these things can be found, even when you think they’ve been deleted, having those conversations with our kids is helpful. And that was a great learning opportunity, right? Like we saw that and I, I saw it and I pointed it out to the kids and I showed them.

[00:40:55] Leah: I’m like, you guys look at this. This is why it’s so important. You will have future employers. future, you know, colleges, future person you want to marry, who can see your social media. So be wise, be smart about what you share and how it reflects who you are and who you want to be, how you want to be seen.

[00:41:18] Leah: So those kinds of conversations are, I think, really powerful and they should just be ongoing all the time.

[00:41:23] Leah: Okay. So additional tips. We paid for everything. We pay for the phone. We pay for the plan because we own it. And we want to make that really, really clear. Like this is not yours. This is ours. We pay for it. You don’t even have the option to go buy your own because this is ours. Here’s the bottom line. Kids are smart and they’re smarter than us when it comes to technology.

[00:41:46] Leah: So if they want to get around the parent restrictions or your rules on the phone, they will. They’re, they’re really smart. So that’s where it can’t be this tyrant. tyrannical approach, it has to be, they’ve got to understand why we’re doing it, that it comes from a place of love, why it matters to us and why we’re doing it for them.

[00:42:10] Leah: I think that makes such a difference, such a difference. Okay. I suggested watching The Social Dilemma. It’s on Netflix. It’s a documentary as a family. I think it’s really powerful. It really helped us have some great conversations as a family. And I have recommended that to. All of my friends who have younger kids for years, um, establish digital free zones and figure out what that means.

[00:42:33] Leah: Like, does it mean that, hey, dinnertime is a digital free zone. When we go out to dinner, it’s a digital free zone. When we’re all watching a movie together, it’s a phone free zone. That’s one we’ve done because everyone kind of gets into this habit of like sitting down to watch a movie and then everyone’s just staring at their phones.

[00:42:50] Leah: Instead of watching the movie, and I think that’s not helping to our depleting attention spans. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but like there’s research that humans attention spans are now worse than goldfish. And so I’m like, no, if we’re watching a movie, we can watch a movie. So your zones could be an area of the house or whatever that might look like, but it also could be a, A specific event when we’re eating dinner, when we’re watching a movie together, when we’re in the car together, when we’re having family time, no phones, and then just talk about all of this a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, have real conversations.

[00:43:30] Leah: Here’s what I want to leave you with all of the giant tech CEOs. They do not let their kids use smartphones. They don’t let them have social media. Steve Jobs was once asked in an interview after the amazing iPad that, you know, everyone’s going gaga over.

[00:43:49] Leah: And the interviewer said, your kids must love the iPad. Do you know what his answer was? They haven’t used it. You guys. Steve Jobs did not let his own kids use the iPad. He said, we limit how much technology our kids use at home.

[00:44:13] Leah: And it goes on and on and on. You look at all the biggest tech founders, CEOs of these major tech companies over and over and over, you will find an interview. You will find something. They are not letting their own kids. Be on these devices inside these social platforms, and yet they’re trying to pull ours in.

[00:44:39] Leah: I so sincerely hope that this episode is helping you. I hope that no matter where you are right now, you feel and know that there is hope. If you’re ready to have more conversations. around phones and social media with your kids. I would suggest having some of these as topics. How is it making you feel?

[00:45:08] Leah: Are you missing out on real connections because you grabbed your phone too fast? How do you feel when other people are on their phone all the time? Remember, even when you delete things, it can be found. Think about those future colleges and employers and even the person you’re gonna marry! Seeing this, would you want them to, and be kind to everyone, but trust very few.

[00:45:39] Leah: I love this thought from M. Russell Ballard. It just feels like the perfect ruler to measure our phone use against and the perfect way to finish this episode. He said. Make sure that the choices you make in the use of new media are choices that expand your mind, increase your opportunities, and feed your soul.

[00:46:07] Leah: That is it for this episode on the Balancing Busy Podcast. I hope that it has been a light and a help. I would love to hear your feedback. I would love to hear what you’re experiencing. How can we take this conversation? Even deeper and further. And what direction do you need it to go next? Send me a DM, shoot me an email.

[00:46:31] Leah: I am here. We are in this together and I will see you next week on another episode of The Balancing Busy Podcast. 



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