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Balancing Screen Time For Our Kids – Part 1 (Ep 107)

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Today’s episode is all about navigating screen time, especially when it comes to our kids. Joining me is Andrea Davis, the founder of Better Screen Time, who shares family-tested ideas from the tech trenches as a mom of five. With her background as a former secondary ed teacher turned screen time navigator, Andrea is on a mission to help parents worry less about tech and connect more with their kids.


Meet Andrea Davis: Andrea’s journey began when she became a mom and realized the impact of technology on her family dynamics. After a challenging experience with her oldest daughter and a smartphone, Andrea recognized the need for more guidance and support for parents navigating the digital landscape. Combining her background in education with her passion for helping families thrive, Andrea founded Better Screen Time to empower parents with practical strategies for managing screen time effectively.

Start with Yourself

It’s all about leading by example. If we want our kids to develop healthy tech habits, we can’t just talk the talk, we’ve got to walk the walk. Whether it’s establishing screen-free zones in the home or implementing bedtime routines for devices, our actions speak volumes. So let’s be the role models our kids need and show them that we can prioritize face-to-face interactions over screen time scrolling.

Create a Family Tech Plan

Developing a family tech plan provides a structured framework for managing screen time within the household. Sit down with your kids and discuss where, when, and how screens will be used. By involving them in the decision-making process, you foster a sense of ownership and accountability. Start with addressing basic needs like sleep and interpersonal relationships, then gradually introduce additional guidelines based on your family’s priorities.

What If It’s Already Too Late?

So, let’s say you’ve already handed over the smartphone without any clear rules or framework in place. Don’t panic—there’s still hope! When it comes to making changes, especially with older teens who are glued to their screens, it’s all about baby steps. Start small, addressing the most pressing issues first, like sleep disruptions caused by late-night TikTok binges. Then, gradually introduce more tweaks and restrictions as needed. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint, folks. Slow and steady wins the race.

It might feel like backtracking, but you can soften the blow by introducing changes in phases, such as removing phones from bedrooms first and then gradually implementing additional guidelines, remember it’s never too late to hit the reset button and establish healthier habits together as a family.

Embrace Experiments

If you or your family are feeling a little resistance to tech change, try approach screen time adjustments as experiments rather than mandates. (Example: a 10 day social media break) Invite your kids to participate in temporary trials to assess the impact of changes on their well-being. Frame it as a collaborative effort to explore healthier habits together. Experimentation fosters a sense of curiosity and openness to change, making it easier for kids to embrace new routines.

Navigating screen time in the digital age can feel overwhelming, but with practical strategies and a collaborative mindset, we can empower our families to find balance. By leading by example, creating a family tech plan, and embracing phased approaches and experiments, we can cultivate healthier relationships with technology and prioritize meaningful connections in our families. Join us in the next episode as we explore the impact of social media on us as women and uncover strategies for reclaiming control over our digital lives.


I’d love to connect and know your thoughts on this episode. Find me on Instagram!


Ep 96: Navigating Phones and Social Media With Our Kids

Ep 21: Helping Our Kids Balance The Busy

Ep 43: Burnout in Our Kids

Leah: [00:00:00] It is time to help you claim balance. I am so happy you’re here. Welcome to the Balancing Busy podcast. I’m Leah Remillet, and today we are going to be talking about balance with technology. Especially in helping our kids. I am so excited for today’s guest, Andrea Davis, who is a former secondary ed teacher turned screen time navigator.

She is the founder of better screen time, where she shares family tested ideas from the tech trenches as a mom of five. She is on a mission to help parents worry less about tech and connect more with their kids. You are going to find out. Feel that as soon as we jump in to this episode, it is so good with so many juicy tidbits, so much to help you navigate screen time, social media, phones, all of it with raising our kids and helping [00:01:00] them to just feel great.

We all see all the media, everything around us all the time talking about the influence, the effects. what social media and cell phones and all of this is doing to our kids, but it can be hard to figure out what we do to combat it as parents. So this conversation is going to give you tools and strategies to help you know how to help your kids and how to just give them the peace, the happiness and the ability to self regulate when it comes to screens.

So let’s jump in and talk with Andrea.

 [00:02:00] Welcome, Andrea. I am so excited to have you on the podcast today. Thanks for joining me. 

Andrea: Thanks, Leigh. I’m excited to be here. Okay, so 

Leah: you have built your entire business around better screen time, better, better understanding of how to utilize our phones. And I want to just jump in because one of the things that you talk about right off the bat is that we have to start with ourselves.

And I want to ask you, like, where did this all come from? Was this from your own personal experience that this all built out? Was it what you were seeing? Where did this just mission to share this message even start? 

Andrea: I think really it started Many years ago when I became a mom and my oldest was just a couple of years old and I was thinking about what I wanted for her and my husband was in grad school and I had a great [00:03:00] friend there who was an amazing reader and I just asked her one day, I said, Rachel, what did your parents do to instill this love of reading?

I mean, I love reading, but she took it to a whole nother level. And she said, Oh, well, we didn’t have a TV growing up. And I was like, really? And so I just got curious and I asked my husband, I said, what would you think if we put the TV in the closet and we just use it like an appliance and we pull it out for family movie night and whatever.

And he’s not really into sports. I know this wouldn’t sell in every home, but it worked in ours. And he was like, Sure. So that was kind of a little mini experiment that has lasted many, many years since. Let’s see what 17 years later. And so for a long time, we really were a low tech family. I felt like we were trying to prioritize, um, in person connection and learning skills and all those things that we want for our kids.

But fast forward, you know, years later and we moved across the country from Illinois to [00:04:00] Oregon where we now live and our oldest was turning 12 at the time and she is like the ultimate responsible child, the kind of kid that cleans her room without being asked. And we handed over an abandoned smartphone to her and just, again, thinking she can keep in touch with these friends that she left behind in middle school and we’ll be able to get in touch with her in this place where we don’t know anyone.

And it didn’t take long for us to realize that it was too much too soon. And so we had to backtrack to a brick phone, which at the time was really all that was available. And I mean, this really was the wild west days of smartphones. There were Apple screen time didn’t even exist, right? So it was painful.

It was a really painful experience for her and for us. But I always say it was one of the smartest things that we ever did as parents. And at that point in time, I realized that parents needed more direction and help. Like, especially if I coming from this low tech. [00:05:00] Perspective and framework had made this mistake.

I thought, you know, more parents need this, and my background is in secondary education. So I have a lot of background knowledge about adolescent development and could just see that we were pushing technology too quickly, and we needed to slow things down. So that really was why I started Better Screen Time.

I love that. 

Leah: My experience with recognizing and realizing that this was a conversation that we needed to have. so much more came almost accidental also. Like, I’m not saying that either of ours were accidental, but we both thought, Oh, I have a pretty good handle on these things. And so mine came from Years ago, uh, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

You and I were talking about that beforehand. There was this challenge to take a 10 day break from fake. I, at the time, worked with the youth and I thought, you know what? [00:06:00] If they have to do it, I can do it too. I’m gonna show them like comradery. I’m here with you. Yeah. And so I’m gonna take this 10 day break from fake with them and.

I remember specifically thinking like, I don’t even really use social media that much. I mean, I only use it for my business. I’m not a scroller. I don’t go on to see what other people are doing. And honestly, not because I’m so great, but because when Facebook first came out, you didn’t have Facebook business pages at the beginning.

Anyone who wanted to follow your business, had to like you and be your friend. So I have thousands of friends who honestly, I have no idea who they are. I don’t, I don’t know them because that was the original way Facebook was set up. And so I didn’t have that desire to scroll because they weren’t even people I knew anyways.

Yeah. So I just, I had never really gotten into the whole scroll thing. And I took this 10 day break. And I was shocked that I felt more, um, [00:07:00] productive, more creative, happier. I mean, just an onslaught of things where I’m like, and I’m a grownup, I’m supposed to be able to handle this stuff. So then I was telling a girlfriend about it, who, um, is a big influencer.

And, um, and we were talking about it and I was telling her what I had done. And she’s like, gosh, that sounds really cool. I think I might try it. I’m going to just try taking a break. And so she took a break and she comes back and she’s like, Oh my gosh, I’ve created so much. She’s this amazing artist. And she’s like, I have created so much art.

I’ve had so many things of inspiration. You know, she was talking about how, um, her name is, is Valerie McKeehan. And she was talking about how. She would, uh, she would be doing something beautiful and creative. And she’d have this moment where she’d be like, Oh, I got to make the stories about it. I got to post, I got to show the background.

And then she would remember, wait, no, you don’t. Cause you’re on a break. And she would just feel so liberated and free. And so then the two of us, we were like, [00:08:00] okay, if we’re both feeling this. Other women have got to feel this. So we decided, I mean, this is years ago now, but we put out to all of our email lists and followers were like, Hey, we did this thing.

It was really cool. Do you want to try it? And so we got hundreds and hundreds of women to commit to do this. And we just created a simple form. And every day we had them complete it about their experience. And it was so fascinating because when we took all the data, we realized it took four and a half days.

For the average and these are like highly successful highly educated women it took an average of four and a half days before They stopped without even thinking going to their phone and pressing the Instagram or the Facebook or you know Whatever their whatever their favorite one was that they were doing it and they’d go to press it and realize oh, it’s not there Like it wasn’t even a conscious decision So you take all of that and you think okay if that’s us as the fully [00:09:00] developed brain adults that we are, then of course our kids need a lot of guidance, a lot of help.

We just, we need a, a better solutions. And that’s why I’m so excited to be talking to you. So will you kind of tell me like, where do we even start with all of 

Andrea: this? Yeah, I think it really starts with creating a family tech plan with your kids. And the reason why I say that is because I think we’ll do things as, as parents and as mothers for our kids that sometimes we wouldn’t be motivated to do otherwise.

And I know for us, like in my family, When I realized we needed to backtrack and and make a plan because technology had changed and our kids had grown up We sat down and and we talked about you know, where are we going to use screens? What are we going to do on them? When are we going to use them and for how long like that’s kind of our framework for a family tech plan and [00:10:00] so we hit that first one like where are we using screens and I had since, after having this bad experience, has done a lot of research and started reading and knew that we needed to get screens out of the bedrooms and the bathrooms.

So that was like my first proposal as we sat down with the kids and You know, obviously one of the first things they said was but mom you take your screen into the bedroom and the bathroom and I was like, oh, you’re right. And so that was one of my first commitments to my originally to my kids was to take my laptop and my phone out of my bedroom and bathroom.

And you know, that can feel hard if you’re used to doing that. And it was so I. I worked for other people from home, I would take my laptop into my bed, work on my bed, and I realized, oh yeah, this is like wrecking havoc on my sleep, on my posture, on my interaction or relationship with my husband. And so. I committed to the kids then [00:11:00] that I wouldn’t take my phone into the bedroom or the bathroom and that’s been over five years now and I will say that what sometimes will start for us as a commitment to our kids, once we start to reap the benefits and we, we experience those rewards, then we start to move into the realm of wanting to do it for even more reasons, right?

And I think when we experience it, yeah. Then we’re, we’re motivated on a lot of levels, right? And so I think, um, you know, this could look different for, for every parent out there, but we all have something about our tech use that could change. I think if we sit down with our family, we kind of are honest with ourselves about what we could change, committing to those kids.

It’s a really good place to start because they’ll help you be accountable. 

Leah: Oh, there’s no question. They will for sure help you be accountable. Okay. So the first thing I’m hearing is you are suggesting that what we’re asking the kids to do. [00:12:00] We should also be willing to do. 

Andrea: Yeah, I think so. I think there’s a lot of just benefit in that.

And I know I’ll get, I get pushed back sometimes from parents. I’m hearing it 

Leah: already. 

Andrea: Right. Like it’s, I’m the parents and I’m like, I’m glad you’re the parent. And there are certainly things that we will do as parents that maybe the kids won’t do and that they aren’t allowed. But I think if we truly want to have change, we have to model and be the change we want to see.

And that, and again, every situation is different. We’ve got, you know, first responders and ER doctors and people that. It’s not going to work for them to take their phone out of their bedroom. But to be realistic, most of us can. And even if you can’t take it out of your room, you can have a bedtime for it.

You can keep it out of reach and have a place to put it. You know, a charging station or somewhere where it gets put every [00:13:00] night. And I think that that’s, uh, That’s, that’s really helpful. So again, as a parent, like you don’t have to do anything like, but do you really want to see that change that that’s the best way?

Because then too, you can share the benefits with your kids and what motivates people more than sharing the why. Right. It’s like back to Simon Sinek, start with why. 

Leah: Right. And there’s, and it makes it so much easier to have this open dialogue. Right. I mean, how much easier is it to have a conversation with the kids?

Um, when you say, Hey, I I’ll do it too. I mean, that’s how my whole journey started was, okay. If you’re being asked to take a 10 day break, I’ll do it with you. I’ll show you like I’m in this with you. And the most surprising thing about that for me was that I thought I was just doing this on their behalf and I had no idea how much I needed it myself.

And I was shocked by that, right? Like I was like, I thought I had such a handle on it. So. [00:14:00] I love this idea of being able to encourage and suggest doing it with our kids and maybe, you know, for some who are having some real resistance right now and feeling like, okay, but you don’t understand I’m, I’m running my business or whatever that might look like, um, that they could even just offer to do it temporarily to get things going.

One of the conversations that I’ve thought about a lot in my mind. So I did an episode. Um, just a few weeks back, it’s gonna, it’s, well, longer by the time this goes live, but it’s episode 96 and 97. So if anybody wants to go to 96. balancingbusypodcast. com, they can find that episode and I shared our entire process with phones and social media with our kids.

And one of my concerns as I recorded that episode was if you’re pre phones. Then this episode is going to be really great, right? Because you get to hear how [00:15:00] somebody else did it. And you get to hear like, Oh, we, you know, we didn’t give them phones till 14. We didn’t introduce social media till 16. Social media has never been on their phone.

Their social media account is actually on my phone. They have to ask permission to even go look when they become a senior, it transitions to them because I’m, you know, I’m recognizing like, Oh, I do want them to be able to self regulate, but they’re not ready yet. And so here’s how, you know, we’re doing this in phases.

However, if you are that parent where you’re listening to that and you’re like, okay, but I already gave my kiddo the phone. I already see the problems. I’m, I’m already in too deep. And you know exactly what you’re saying. Like now I’m seeing this backpedal, but I know that the conflict, the fight, the resistance is going to be so strong at this point.

And I was so worried about that when, like, in fact, I sat on the episode for months and didn’t publish it because I was so worried about that. And one of the things that I’m loving [00:16:00] just in the first few minutes of this conversation with you is that I’m realizing if a parent is there, they can sit down and say, I’m seeing something, I’m seeing this problem.

And I don’t think you’re very happy or that you’re feeling very good. And I want more for you. And I want to suggest that we do an experiment. I think we all accept things easier when it’s, when it appears to start as a limited time. Now you might in your mind be like, this is going to stay forever, but we don’t need to present forever as the first initial phase, because you can understand we all are going to cling and hold on to, we don’t want to lose something.

So I love this idea of like, Oh, we could start as an experiment and we’re going to do it together. Let’s both try for one week to remove, you know, to, to only have no phones in our rooms or the bathroom. We’re going to have the charging station, like ours is on the Island, um, in the kitchen, right there.

We’re, we’re going to try this [00:17:00] and we’re going to take off social media and let’s see how we feel. And the fact that there’s that camaraderie, like I’m going to do this with you. And then. It gives you this wonderful opportunity to have that open dialogue. Any, like, anything you would suggest changed due to that differently?

Andrea: No, I love that. I think that approach is most effective with older teens. Because they are at a point where they do need to have some choice and some skin in the game. With younger kids, I do think, I really think if things have gone too far and you know, it, you just know in your gut that it’s not right, then I think as a parent, you just have to say, this is what we’re doing, which was, that was the case with my daughter at that time.

However, I certainly think with things that maybe are just, they’re not really red flags, but you’re just starting to feel like, Hey, we’re getting a little off track. [00:18:00] I think that’s a perfect approach. Or with an older teen who really is only going to be in your house for maybe another year or so. And, and you, you notice, and you, you can tell that things are off track, but they’re maybe not in a place where you can just like take everything away and they need to start learning.

Then I think experimenting with them is perfect. And I, yeah, I love that. 

Leah: I love that you pointed that out. Cause in my mind, I was thinking like that older. Teen right where they’ve had it for a while and they feel so it’s a security blanket, right? Like, let’s just call it what it is. It’s, you know, it could be at the level of addiction.

And so when you’re trying to suggest taking it away, it’s instantly creating fear and anxiety and deep, deep stress. And they’re going to resist. So, you know, this opportunity to maybe present it in a, in an experimental shorter period of time, we’re in [00:19:00] this together. Let’s just see. So it doesn’t have to feel so scary.

But I agree when we’re talking about like our younger kids, we’re not meant to be their, their, you know, favorite person all the time, like hopefully in time, they’re going to decide that we’re their favorite, but I can tell you there are moments when I am not my kid’s favorite person because I’m, I’m willing to be the bad guy.

And, and when they’re telling me, I’m saying you’re right. I get it, but it’s because I love you so much and I’m willing to have you mad at me right now because my job is to protect you and to do what I believe is best. And here’s why I think we need to do this. So yes, absolutely. 

Andrea: I just want to mention if with an older teen, if you are seeing some real red flags, then there certainly can be a time when maybe we do need to Say goodbye to some certain aspects of tech and we need to maybe involve a therapist and get some outside help and [00:20:00] Even like, you know, I’ve coached parents with let’s say even like college age students who hadn’t really had a phone Prior to leaving home and then suddenly got access to everything and really just couldn’t handle it I’ve been like, Hey, get them on a starter phone, put them on a pinwheel or a gab or a through me phone and, and just see if, um, if they’ll go along with that.

And I find that when there’s a good relationship between the parent and the child and the parent really comes from a place of, Hey, I want to help you. And the child can see that things have gotten out of control. Then that can be like a good, like. Let’s work through this together. So really, you know, knowing, knowing your child and knowing the situation, cause if they’re, they are interacting or dealing with something dangerous, then certainly you want to take action right away.


Leah: Yeah, I love that. And, uh, speaking of gab phones. So I, after my [00:21:00] episodes aired, I had a friend. Uh, send me a message and say, Hey, I have to tell you about this experience with the GAB phone. So they had gotten their daughter a GAB phone and for those of you guys who have not heard of that, it’s, it’s just like a, a dumbed down phone with a lot of, uh, restrictions and different things to make the parent very aware of what is happening to them.

on the phone. Well, um, they didn’t know too much about the phone. Mom had done a lot of research. Dad didn’t really know anything. And they’re, they’re starting off with this phone. And all of a sudden an alert comes on mom and dad’s phones. They get, uh, an alert that comes on that says, uh, your child may have just been shown inappropriate images.

Their phone has been shut down. And basically the daughter could not use the phone until they came and look. So they immediately come in and they’re like, What are you doing? What’s happening? Right? Like all the fears are coming out and it was, it was nothing. It was so pure. [00:22:00] It was just, Oh, I can’t remember what she told me it was.

It was so cute. It was like, it wasn’t a thing at all. Um, but because there was like, Little more skin showing, which it wasn’t for anything negative. Gosh, I feel bad that I cannot remember what it was right now. Um, it, it did this alert and they were just so impressed and excited. Now, I do think it’s really important to realize like kids are really smart.

We can’t just trust restrictions. They will get around them. So we need to be having like the real conversations, um, and, and making sure that that dialogue is happening. But for anyone who’s trying to figure out where to start. Um, definitely look into these Gab phones because that was really cool hearing her experience.

They didn’t exist when our kids were young enough and we were first starting. So that wasn’t even an option for us, but hearing that, I thought that was really cool. So, um, okay, so I wanted to ask you, as we were having this conversation, one of the ideas that [00:23:00] came to me and I just wanted to get your feedback was, do we do this in phases?

Like, Depending on the age of our kids now, obviously, for kids, if we’re starting them with phones, then we can do it all at once. We can explain it all. We can do a phone contract. We can, you know, talk to other their friends, parents and be like, let’s all be in this together. Let’s hold off on cell phones.

We can, you know, set the rules at the very beginning. But if we are in a stage where we’re needing to do some backtracking, would you suggest maybe introducing the different things that you’re going to do in phases? Like, okay, we’re going to start by no more phones in the bedroom and bathroom. Then we’re going to add this.

Or do you think, no, it’s better to just band aid style, make it happen? 

Andrea: No, I think phases are good. And I think, especially if you are dealing with older teens, We want to give them as much choice as possible, but I think starting with almost looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of [00:24:00] Needs, where you’re, you’re looking at, you know, what do we need to be a healthy, happy human being, and starting with those first basic needs, so if, for example, the phone is interfering with sleep.

And you’ve got a teenager that’s on a device, you know, at all hours during the night, like, that would be the first place that where I would start is, yeah, again, getting the device out of the bedroom, having a bedtime, because That aspect, just our health affects everything else in our lives. Like we, we know that as parents, when we’re, we don’t get a lot of sleep when we had newborns, like you’re just not yourself.

Right. And so we’ve got kids walking around. I hear from school counselors all the time to tell me, yeah, I’ve got. Kids in the office were like, yeah, well, I’m just really tired and they find out they’re playing video games till three in the morning, you know, every night. And there’s no way that can’t not affect the rest of your life, your schoolwork, your relationships.[00:25:00] 

And so, so yes, take it in phases, but also like you want to start with the things that are going to. the, the most amount of change. And, and so that would be like anything that just kind of relates to health and relationships. And then, yeah, going from there for sure. I love 

Leah: that. Okay. That’s so good. 

 I have been loving this conversation. I believe that it is so critical and important that we as moms and parents have these conversations more often with more people. And. Raise our awareness together. Now we’re going to take a break. We’re going to jump into the next episode. I just broke this interview in half.

Leah: And we’re going to shift and we’re going to talk about us as women with social media and our phones. And the honest truth is, if we want to teach our kids, we’ve got a model in it. Now, I know. I know you might be thinking, um, I’m [00:26:00] using it for my business, or I want to put my head in the sand. I don’t want to think about this.

I don’t want to think about what problems I might have. But I’m telling you, oh, it is powerful when we get control over something that could be hindering our progress in other areas of our life. So go ahead, jump into the next episode. I cannot wait for you to hear this next half. It is so good.



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