This week is all about the digital world and how we are navigating it with our children.
Join me and my guest, Sarah Maynard, mother and Founder/CEO of THE START EFFECT. Her company focuses on children and understanding the impacts the digital world has on their offline lives.
Sarah’s mission is to identify an optimal balance between online activity and being properly unplugged so they can live a safe, healthy, and intentional life in both worlds.
Sarah shares the pros and cons of this digital time and discusses the five red flags we need to teach our kids to interact safely and smartly.
Join us on our Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/reallifemomz/ so we can continue to discuss this important topic.
Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
The Start Effect: https://www.thestarteffect.com
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Welcome to Real Life Moms I'm your host Lisa Foster and Real Life Moms is a podcast that's all about moms having real conversations, sharing resources, and telling their inspiring stories. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about these topics that parents deal with every day and to continue these conversations in our Real Life Momz Facebook group, where we would love for you to become part of our community. And this week's episode, we invited Sarah Maynard, who is the founder and CEO of The Start Effect. She helps people understand the impact the digital world has on their offline lives, and find a balance between online and being unplugged so that they can live a safe, healthy, and intentional life in both worlds.
And today, we are discussing navigating the digital world with our children.
Hi Sarah. Welcome to Real Life Momz. I'm excited to discuss our topic today, which is navigating the digital world with our children.
Yes. Thank you for having me, Lisa.
I feel like this is something that I'm like constantly wondering how to handle as a parent. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, it's such a big part of our kids' lives. It's their social lives, it's their learning. And I think one of my biggest struggles is really that there's a lot of outside pressures of like, what looks like good parenting, especially with screens mm-hmm. <affirmative> and what's really realistic with my family dynamics. Yeah,.
Yeah, for sure. Right. And that's, that's so true because everything is so personal to your situation, to your children, to your job, to uh, just even to where you live in the, in the world. And it can be really hard, especially as parents. We are also on all of those, We're on so many of the things too. We're on social media, we're using the internet, and, and we can see all those outside pressures of people like, Nope, don't let them be near this for this many hours. By the time they're two years old, they should never have looked at a phone ever in their life.
I know. Like, so you immediately, you know, you're, your baby's grabbing your phone Right. Like out of your hand when you're holding them. Right. And already I'm like, Oh, bad mom. Like holding both. It's.
So hard. It's so hard. And, we have to learn, to give ourselves a little bit of grace because we are the first generation of parents that have to deal with this. So no one taught us how to do it. First of all, no one taught us how to be on the internet in the first place. We all just kind of figured it out. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and now we have to teach our kids how, how to live their life online. And we're just kind of figuring it out.
<Laugh>. Yeah. And we're not all good at it either. I think we have stuff that we need.
To work. Exactly. Yeah. And it's a, it's a constant, um, you, it's very cyclical sometimes too. Even if you're someone who likes to, um, like my husband likes to take a, a good like a month off of social media. For me, that does not work. Yeah. Like, I can't, just cold Turkey, stop doing it. Um, but I can set up some boundaries for myself and some, and, you know, some screen time limits for myself that help, get me to a place that's helpful and then I can start teaching my kids that.
But the thing with that is then I have to, if I get sick if it's the middle of winter and it snowed for four days, like <laugh> Yeah. I may, I may keep hitting that. Give me more time button and have to start over again. And that's okay. And letting ourselves know it's okay too, to pivot start over, and try again.
Yeah. That, that, I love that you're saying there's grace with it. That, really makes me feel better even just going into this conversation. Yeah. But you do have some expertise in this area, so maybe just tell us a little bit about your background and what you do.
Yeah, so I have, uh, worked with kids in a number of different situations and places for over about 20 years. Um, and I just recently got my master's in digital marketing communications. Um, cuz I'm fascinated, with how we communicate with each other and how we talk. And, the more and more I learn about the digital world and kind of dig deep into it, I've been really pulled towards digital wellness and digital wellbeing and what that looks like because it's really a new place for us to start talking.
Um, because as all these, all of these technologies have kind of crept into our lives in a way that now we feel like if I, I don't, I don't know about you, but for me, if I left my phone at home, I'm turned most of the time turning around to get it.
<Laugh>. Oh yeah. For sure. Right.
We become so dependent on them. And so just thinking about how we one, communicate with other people, but also how we're communicating with ourselves and with that technology. So it's kind of like a triangle. Yeah.
And it's also holding everything. I don't know about you, but my phone has everything. Right. It has everybody that I need to get in contact with. It has notes that I need. I mean, it's holding everything mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. So.
Yeah, it keeps, and it's, um, oh, what is it called? The Google effect. It's this idea that our, um because we know that our phone, we can get the information and we know how to find it quickly. Our brains have actually started, to change how we store information. And if we know it's something we can get easily, then we don't remember it as quickly, which is.
Fascinating. Wow. Well, my jaw just dropped because I have been forgetting so much and now I'm thinking, Oh, it's my age, you know, getting older. But no, it's probably this Google effect. I'm gonna actually like say it's the Google effect. That is why I'm not remembering.
Anything. Yeah. Yes. And, it is something we have to try and combat a little bit because we will start just relying on it for everything. And the problem with that is that our brains, like any other muscle, get lazy. Yeah. And so we have to, we have to intentionally decide to, you know, to play some brain games, to do a puzzle, to do a crossword mm-hmm. <affirmative> something that challenges us a little bit just to, just to let it work a little harder, What.
Are really the pros and cons of our kids kind of living in this digital world?
Hmm. Yeah. So, one of the big pros is that they're able to find community. They are able to go outside of maybe their physical space. Um, and so unlike when, when my space was the thing way back at the beginning of the internet, and you had to really think about, okay, I have to make sure that I put the one popular song on because that's how all of my friends are gonna find it. And I'll, and then I will be friends with everyone. Now kids are like, you know, this is a thing that I'm interested in.
I'm gonna find other people who are also interested in it. Instead of saying, These are the people around me, I have to be interested in what they're interested in.
Right. Yeah. They're,.
They're much better at saying, Okay, these are the things that I find that I'm drawn to. I'm gonna hang out more with those people mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that I think, is such a big positive mm-hmm. <affirmative> and watching them communicate there is just fascinating because they don't have, they, they're not concerned, I guess, with the logistics of it. So they just use it and, and they're able to, I think TikTok is a really great example because the way that the younger generations started to use that platform has now transformed other social platforms because they have chosen to use it in a certain way.
And that's really, really fascinating to watch because they're just in, in them being creative, and they're so, most of the time, very authentic and mm-hmm. <affirmative> and are looking for those connections, and they're, they're finding them, which is really awesome.
Right. Causes also some not-so-awesome. I'm kidding. Right?
Yeah, that's what I was gonna say. Like, the flip side of that is <laugh>, there are, there are a lot of negatives and those are the things we have to make sure that we have a good relationship and like a conversational relationship with our kids about just in general. But if you have that base already, it becomes a lot easier to have these conversations about difficult things online. Anything from safety to knowing how to get out of a situation that is uncomfortable or unsafe to what do you do when you are cyber bullied, When if you do have a troll?
And having those conversations and at least letting them know that you, as their parent, as their caregiver are aware that they exist. Because often they'll think, Oh, they have no idea what I'm dealing with. The personal side, those relationships, and the way we talk to people and how people, the way people talk to us and how that makes us feel is something we know and is something we can help teach our kids. And though they may not realize, you know, at the top of their brain that those are similar, um, and very often have very similar mental consequences to us.
Right. If you think of bullying that we do know some, you know, we're, we feel more, um, more confident in being able to talk about those things. So if you've already started these conversations with them, pulling in the digital piece becomes a little bit easier.
So, Okay. So my mind of course, is going like safety, safety, safety, you know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, because I think that's where I think that's a big concern. I mean, yes, I'm sure we'll have conversations about the time on it and, and things like that, but I think a lot of parents are also scared about the safety, whether it's bullying or, you know, talking to somebody you don't know, putting something out there in the world that shouldn't be there are all real fears. Right. Um, Oh yeah. You know, what are some of these conversations that we should like, are like, you need to talk to your kids about these things.
What are those? Yeah.
Yeah. So I have five red flags really that you should make sure that your kids know about when they're talking to people online. And this goes for whether they're their friends, whether they're people they know from school, or whether they're just strangers that they've started connecting with. So the first is, anytime someone asks to keep the relationship or conversation a secret, that should send something in their brain to say, Oh, that's something about, that's weird. Like, if you met someone in the grocery store and like, Shh, don't tell your parents that we talked immediately.
The kids will be like, Okay, that's weird. But when you have this screen in between you,, it kind of dulls that sense because you don't have all of those body language cues. You don't have, like, you don't have as much of that gut intuition that you might feel in a situation.
So just letting them know that anytime someone tells you to keep a relationship or conversation a secret, that is something you should not keep a secret. Tell your trusted adult for sure. The second one is anytime they ask what your kid is wearing, So if someone's like, Hey, what are you wearing? What are you wearing right now? Like, <laugh>, unless you're Jake from State Farm, like, that's a weird question to get right. And they, your kids, should know that they do not at any time ever need to share that information. Even if it is, you know, people from school saying, Hey, what are you wearing to the dance?
What are you wearing to this gathering? You'd say, I, no, I haven't made up my mind yet. And everyone would go, Oh, okay. And move on. And if they don't move on, that's a real red flag.
That's a, you should stop the conversation. Say, Hey, you know what? I gotta go. Or even say, you know what, I'm done talking right now. Thanks, and sign off, and that's fine. And giving and empowering them to let them know that that is an option is, is really big. Um, because a lot of times, especially if you are in a predator situation, they'll say things like, Oh, come on. You know, I did this thing for you, I said this. Like, and it can really play into ideas of, well, okay, fine, I should do that.
But letting your kids know if they are ever uncomfortable no is a complete sentence. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And if someone doesn't respect that, then, then you don't need to continue that conversation. Yes. Um, yeah. Okay. So we've got asking to keep relationships a secret, um, what they're wearing, and then it's asking about a specific schedules.
Um, if someone is asking for details about when something is happening, where something is happening, that's a red flag I always caution people to. Um, so right now, uh, like at the beginning of the school year, you'll really see the beginning and the end of the school year. Really, you'll see a lot of those back-to-school, end-of-school-year photos. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and a few things for people to remember when you're doing those is one, not to include your child's the name of where your kid goes to school and if they're wearing a uniform to kind of blur out the logo of the school.
Um, and then the last one would be to, to make sure when you're taking those photos that you're not taking them like in front of the, uh, your address number,.
And things like that. Cuz people can, there are ways to figure out where you are. And so we don't wanna make that easy, but we still love to see those photos, and we wanna share and, and get really excited.
<Laugh>. And I'm just sitting here in my head going, Oh my God, because I do talk to my kids, of course not to pose certain things or mm-hmm. Never tell them your name or your school. And here I am posting on Facebook, like my kid in, on her dance team in her uniform. What am I doing?
Is so hard? Right. And we don't, But not.
Even thinking Exactly.
Cause these, these, these apps were created, the platforms were created so that we don't think about it.
Um, and so, and a lot of it is, I mean, if you take something on your phone, you have the option to edit things out, to blur things a little bit and make it difficult for people to find things. One thing with schools that I, Cause I know a lot of people you wanna share like that, Oh, the football game was awesome at wherever. Um, I always suggest just using your school's mascot instead of the school name because the mascot could be anywhere. Um, unless you have something like super obscure,.
I'm so concerned about what they're posting, not even thinking about what I'm posting.
Oh, that's a great point. I had a friend actually come and ask me because her son wanted to get on Twitter for some videos that he was posting on YouTube. And he said, Hey, you know what, mom, I don't want you to follow me. And she was like, Why, why, why shouldn't I, I follow you. And so she asked me like, Is that state, like, is that something he should do? And I asked her, I said, Well, are you posting, are you often posting about their location like things that they're doing a lot of, there's where they go to school where you're doing things and, and she was like, Oh yeah, I am.
And I was like, Then he's right.
Because someone who wants, like, if someone really digs deep, they can, your follower list is public who follows you and who you follow is something that people can find and look through. And especially if you're using you and your child are using, and you have the same last name, people will just assume that your related. And if they're looking for something, they're gonna find it. Wow. So yeah, it's.
<Laugh>. No, I mean, very eye-opening. And I think this is such a great conversation because we sit and we tell like our kids not to do something, and we're not doing it ourselves, and we're putting them in jeopardy as well. So, Wow. So, okay, this is, we're only at number three. I'm scared to know what's next to are.
<Laugh>. Yeah. There, it's, it's a lot, and it's hard. So one thing, like when I, when I started my business, um, I took my Facebook profile from the public, from private to public. And when I did that, I went through all of my posts over the last, I don't know how many years, so many years, and deleted any pictures of my kids because I knew that once I made my profile public, then all of those pictures were out there.
Like if I just started hosting them on news sites mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I knew I didn't want that. So Facebook does not make it easy for you to do that. You have to individually delete each picture. But it was a conscious decision that I made because I wanted to be more public-facing, but that doesn't mean my kids wanted to be. Right. So,
Okay. Number four, I think, though.
Number four. Yes. Yeah. Um, so someone is sending gifts and saying that they expect something in a return. Um, so this is one that, when I started researching it, was just incredibly eye-opening. So gifts can include things, uh, items like currency and online games or, uh, virtual gift cards, which are both really difficult to track because a lot of times you just get the, whatever the web address is or something, there's, it's very difficult to track where that came from.
So one of the, when I was talking to my, uh, almost 15 year old about this, I was like, Hey, if somebody sent you like $20 in mine coins or in uh, Roblox box, what would you do? And he's like, Oh, I love that. That'd be great. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I was like, Well, why, why do you think they would give you that?
He's like, I don't know cuz I'm nice <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I said, But if you as a, as a teen had this had this money, would you then just gift it to somebody because they're nice. Nice. And he looked at me like, Absolutely not <laugh>. Mm. Like, it's not their birthday. It's not like I'm not showing up for a party. I'm not, uh, they, you know, they, they didn't have some just big achievement that I was like, Here, I wanna, I wanted to surprise you with this. Um, and so often if our kids are receiving these, uh, these options for, for gifts, they're not coming from other kids.
Even if the person sending it is saying that they are.
<Affirmative>. Um, and, and so telling them things like that sometimes make their, make their heads turn a little bit and at least enough that if it happens and if they come across it, you've already talked about it mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so it can kind of set off, even if it doesn't immediately set off a, like a full stop situation because you know, their teens and their, their processes aren't fully formed yet. Right. That, at least sets off that feeling of unease a little bit.
And so the more often you can have these conversations and the, even if it's just riding around in the car and you're like, Hey, today I thought maybe we would talk about this one thing real quick and just, just to help them keep it at the top of their minds because otherwise is they're gonna, is gonna be lost. But.
What you're saying is that these are coming from possible adults who might then, like kind of talk to them saying, Oh, I sent you this gift. Yeah,.
Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Like, Hey, I sent you this gift, why don't you send me this? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I sent you this gift, why don't you get on a video call with me?
Right. Okay. And.
It'll escalate slowly enough sometimes that our kids don't Yeah. It doesn't trigger. It doesn't make, they don't realize it, realize it. But if you're having these conversations, hopefully, the hope, the hope is that we at least let them know it's aware that they're aware that this is a thing mm-hmm. <affirmative> and start to make those pathways. So they do get kind of that, that feeling that you would get from being in an in-person situation. Right. That you can start to kind of get that still like this did, this person's got a weird vibe. Mm-hmm.
<Affirmative>, like something's weird, <laugh>. And then we trust that too, to empower them, to trust that feeling and to let them know like, hey, if someone's sending you stuff, that's a person we don't need to be talking to mm-hmm. <affirmative> and teaching them how to, how to block people. Um, and there are options to block people on, on texts, on social media platforms, on gaming things on your email. Um, and again, so much of it comes back to empowering them. One, just to let them know it exists and to say, you know what?
This is, this is an option for you. You don't owe these people.
Anything, which I'm, I'm gonna put in now. Um, because while you're saying this, that's a big thing for kids. Um, blocking or like unfriending. I don't even know what the right terminology is. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because it means more than just like for me it's like to, for me it's kind of like, oh, you just don't answer their phone call. Right. Like, or Yeah. Or something. It's kind of when we did that Right. In days. But for them, it is hurtful to unfriend to not answer. So that's, that's like a whole thing.
It's really hard for them. I think, you know, in a stranger situation, probably easier to block cuz they don't know them. Right. But someone that they are going to encounter maybe at school or socially or whatever, that's really difficult.
It is. Yeah. It can be really, really, really hard. Um, and the thing, with strangers online is oftentimes they will create a relationship. So it does, even then, even though this is someone that you may never meet in person, it's, they still have created this some kind of a relationship. So it does make it so much more difficult, to do that. One thing that I recommend is if you can start to sense, in your kid that something is happening that, but they're not, they're not really ready to share with you what's going on, or they're not, they wanna share, but they don't know how to say it.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, um, I have found that especially my, actually my 14 years, year old and I were talking about this the other day because I was like, Oh yeah, you know what, I got this person following me, and they started talking to me a bunch and, you know, I just didn't feel like our conversation was really helping me mm-hmm.
<Affirmative>. So I decided that I was gonna stop talking to them. And when they continued I blocked them and he was like, You can do that even to someone you've been talking to. And I was like, Yes, because you, you don't owe them anything. And, and it, regardless of who that is, and I, I'm really hesitant to tell, to tell anyone, like, Okay, well there are these, you, you know, you, you never block your family Well in some instances that might not be safe mm-hmm.
<Affirmative>, um, depending on what's going on in your family dynamic. So having a trusted adult that they can always come to and they know they can always come to and making sure that that is the one person that they, if they are interacting online with that person, they don't block. So that you have some kind of connection that way. But making sure that there's at least one trusted adult that's on their list can be really just grounding and helpful, I think.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. Lots to think about. What is number five? <laugh>? Yes. <laugh>.
So number five is asking for photos or videos.
Okay. Yes. That one I got. I didn't know the other ones, but that one I like.
Okay. Yeah. This one, this one is, So I've heard some, I've heard some very, uh, just a lot of stories kind of running all over the place. But specifically if someone is asking for your kid in pajamas or in a swimsuit, um, if they're asking for their hair or their feet, um, them in clothing that is usually covered by other clothing or body parts that's usually covered by other clothing. Those are like my five. Like those should be your big red flags if they're asking for them and then persisting after you say, No, that's a, that's a block situation for me mm-hmm.
<Affirmative>. Um, because they're just gonna keep escalating. And unfortunately what happens is they'll put down their phone on the other side and either move on to talking to someone else or go on about their day. But our child who has received these messages and these questions is trying to decide what to do about it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and it can really weigh on them. Um, so saying, you know what, you don't have to send them anything. You can block them, you can stop talking to them.
And sometimes the best option is teaching them that it's okay to turn your phone off, to turn your device off completely off. And that is terrifying.
<Laugh>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. It is,.
It's terrifying. But if you're in a space with people that you trust and you're with that trusted adult saying to your friends, Hey, you know what? I'm gonna be not, I'm, I'm not gonna be connected for the next couple hours. I'll talk to you when I can mm-hmm. <affirmative> and letting them know first that that's out there can be really helpful. Because from conversations with my son who was actually just talking to a friend who was gonna be, who wasn't, who was gonna be away from his phone for a while and did that exact thing and said, Hey, you know what, I'm not gonna be near my phone.
If you send me your phone number, I'll be able to call you, but I'm not gonna have access to Discord. I'm not gonna have access to Instagram or Snapchat or text. And all of the friends on the chat were like, Hey, I hope you're okay. Yeah. Thanks for letting us know. We're really glad that you that you let us know so we're not like texting you. Like, where are you? What's going on? Are you okay? Which can be a real feel fear when we're so connected all the time.
Yeah. I mean, I'm going through this right now with my daughter because, you know, she has a friend that she cannot get in touch with. Mm. You know, and she's worried, you know, not showing up at school and not in places that she normally is and she's trying to get in touch with her. And it, and it's a, a fear like not having access to your friend that you normally do, especially for these teens. And it goes both ways. Like, you know, in some ways it starts out, you know, it'll probably start out like not getting the response.
You, you know, you start to get upset because oh my God, why am I not getting, why are they not, are they mad at me? You know, gets all these other emotions. Yeah. And then finding out like, oh wait, now there's a concern for my friends. So yeah. This, they have a hard, it's hard connecting. So I love hard idea of teens or anybody telling somebody that I am stepping away from my phone for a while, I'm not gonna use it. I think that's so important. Yeah.
Yeah. And letting, and one thing is, is modeling that behavior too. Like letting people, letting your kids see that you do that too. You turn your phone off, you put it away, you put it in a different room and you connect with the people that are in front of you. And that goes for a host of different things, but letting them see that behavior. Cuz a lot of times they'll see us on our phone. I mean, they'd see us, we're on our phones too mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and they're modeling all of that behavior. Even if they're not saying it, they're seeing it.
And um, and I've, I've heard lots of stories in my own kids do it too, that they'll be times they're like, um, you told us we can't have our devices here, so why, why are you on your phone right now? Yeah. <laugh>. Cause they Oh, totally. They will call you out <laugh>.
Oh yeah. For my birthday one year my present was going out to dinner, um, and my present was nobody had their phone. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. That was, that was the deal. They had to just keep it away. And the kids no problem myself, no problem. I tend to leave my phone at all sorts of places. So I have like a watch cuz I have to always find it. I have no idea where it is, but my husband, oh my goodness, he must have picked it up. We were all like, no, put it back down. Like everything, all of a sudden he needed, Oh, we have to check the weather or you know, is this available to go to after?
And everything had to be looked up and we're like, No phones the only person I asked for. Yep. And it was so much harder for him. And.
It's, it is, it's hard. It, I mean, and, and I think that's really, really great story because it shows that our, it's not just our kids that are having this mm-hmm. <affirmative> that it is, it is all of us. We've all grown to, to just have these, they've just kinda like warmed our, warmed their way in there. And, uh, they can be really, it's really difficult to, to break those patterns.
So, so listening to all this, I mean, you know, balance, like, you know, I feel like the ideal for anyone in this digital place is that knowing when to say, Okay, I need a break. Like, I like, you know, I think you had mentioned earlier, early before that your husband was taking a, a social media break or something, right? Yep. You know, just knowing that I need a break. How do we teach kids to say, Oh, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, you know, these people keep asking me questions, I'd like to just turn off for a little bit or walk away.
Because it's one thing for us to say, put your phone down, or we have to eat dinner now so there's no phones here. But that's still like us telling them. But how do we get them to balance their themselves?
Yeah. So, um, whether you have, uh, an iOS device or an Android, there are options for you to set your own screen time, your own downtime, um, and then change like notifications for things. When you get those notifications, you can kind of sense right. When your kid is getting to that overwhelmed state of things and that might be a great time to sit down and say, Hey, what do you, what would really help you right now? One, to help them start thinking about it cuz this is something they're gonna have to live with their whole life.
These devices aren't going away. Helping them first realize that they do need a break because that's gonna make it, having that happen when they decide they will need a break but don't know how, is gonna be a lot easier for you to say, Okay, here's some tools we can use to help you disconnect a little bit to ground yourself a little bit more, to find a better balance.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, um, then if you're just like, Okay, uh, I'm gonna take this from you now. Right. And <laugh>, that's not gonna teach them how to, how to find that balance. So I think about it in terms of driving a car. If you've taught your child to drive a car, then there may be, um, privileges and things that they are allowed to use that car for, but they may also have things that they need to do, like get themselves to school, drive someone to an appointment, get themselves to work.
And so you wouldn't just take the car away, but you would say, Okay, you know what, you're only allowed to use it to get to school. You're only allowed to use to get to work until, you know, until we get, until you relearn how to do this with those boundaries in place. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Because sometimes, especially if there's been some kind of a mistake if something has happened, um, especially with the digital stuff, our first inclination is like, I'm gonna protect you by taking it away. Yeah. It's used as a punishment a lot I guess. Yeah. Yeah. But because there so much of their life is lived on there mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you're not, the the punishment doesn't, doesn't, uh, isn't, isn't necessarily the best consequence because you're inproportionate impacting them without realizing it.
Right. Uh, and, and we have to teach them how to use these things by doing things like saying, Okay, you know what you, uh, I realized that you are not sleeping because you're watching YouTube until 3:00 AM So what we're gonna do, <laugh>, is we're gonna say, okay, how long, how, how long each day do you feel is going to be a good amount of time for you to watch YouTube?
Because just like anything else, YouTube is set up so that you go down the rabbit hole and all of a sudden have lost an hour and a half and you don't know what happened. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so in this situation saying, okay, you tell me, you start, it's almost like a barter situation, right? Like you start and say, how long do you think you should have access to YouTube every day? And they say like, six hours. And you're like, Okay, well this many hours a day you're in school mm-hmm.
<Affirmative> this many hours a day, you are doing, uh, other responsibilities, whether that's work or stuff around the house. And so if you're watching YouTube for six hours, then you're still staying up till two or three o'clock in the morning. And so then offer an alternative and say, Okay, well what about maybe two hours? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and slowly come going back and forth until you find a spot that both of you are comfortable with and showing them how to add that into their screen time, um, on whatever device that they have.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> you mean like setting Setting the actual time? Yes.
Yeah. Yeah. Setting the for, so for like an iOS, you would just go into your screen time settings and you can set for specific apps, you can set how long, um, how long you wanna be on that app for mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Um, so for younger, Yeah for younger kids you can set it up so that, so that they don't have access to be able to change it themselves. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which is one thing we do in our house that our kids have a very specific time of day that they like wait around for because they know that all of their apps will open <laugh>.
But for my older kids, they have a little bit more freedom. They have a little bit more autonomy in choosing how long they're gonna be on each, on each thing. Um, and you can set it for all games. You could say, you know what, for all games you get an hour a day for all social media apps, you get an hour a day or you can do it by individual app, which can be really helpful one for just bringing mindfulness in because these apps are designed for us just to keep going and not stop.
Right. <laugh> mm-hmm <affirmative>. And sometimes all it takes is that that little box to pop up and say, Hey, you've been doing this for an hour. I was supposed to do seven other things I just got on to watch two things. <laugh>.
Well I like that you're incor, at least with the older kids, you're incorporating them in the time because I feel like kids are pretty savvy. They typically have their own phones, especially as a teen and they can kinda figure out how to get whatever they need <laugh> from their phones if they want more time. Right. I feel like they figure that stuff out. Maybe not the younger kids. So Yeah, I like that it's a conversation to say, Oh wow, you're not sleeping or it looks like you're stressed about your homework. Why don't we set a time limit so that you know when it goes off then you know it's time to do your homework.
Let's pick it out together. I like it as more of a conversation because I think when we're given, when we take away the control, they want more control, right? Yes. Like, and if we give them the control that they're in charge of putting it in, then they're kind of balancing it themselves. And I think that's probably what we want idea, right?
Yeah. And then we're helping to, cuz they're just like, all of us, they're gonna fall off that mm-hmm. <affirmative> and we're gonna have to reevaluate and mm-hmm. <affirmative> and talk about it again. But you're teaching them all of these skills wrapped into that about self-regulation and mindfulness and so many things that they're just gonna need for, for life going forward.
So what apps, or I don't know if they're all all apps, but what are your like red flags? Like this one is not good <laugh> Ooh, for your kids safety. I, I personally think I have one that I'm gonna put out there is that find a friend mm-hmm. <affirmative> where you can like, I think it's an app. I don't really know. My kids do have it. They are not like, they don't show themselves I guess. Um, Yeah, granted, I'm saying that I check it, I'm sure it pops up on people that they invite, but still nobody should be finding anybody.
Yeah. And you can see kids everywhere. They're everywhere. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> at all. Yeah. Do you know what I'm talking about? Yeah,.
Yeah. Yeah. And the the scary thing is that you <laugh> so many of, uh, if you're looking at even like, so just all social media apps will have a location aspect. Mm. Um, like even on Snapchat, you can set your, you can set your location for friends to be able to find you. So you have to be, we have to be looking at each app, um, because depending on the app, it will have its own, um, its own different location settings and things like that.
Um, but each one is a little bit different, so that makes it so much fun for us as parents.
Okay. Okay. So I guess we should also be teaching our kids that when they have like, um, I guess Snapchats or any of those that have that that make sure, is it a privacy? Like what should they be pressing? Is it privacy?
Yeah. Yeah. It'll be in your settings under privacy. Mm-hmm.
<Affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. And just turn off the fine me and.
Just turn off that you don't need you, you don't need anyone to find you people that you want to be found by. Have information about how to contact you better than that.
App. Right. Text, text me and I will tell you where I am. Exactly. If want you to know, otherwise I'm going to ignore you. <laugh>, Yes. Or say no <laugh>.
Yes. Yep. And I'm, I'm blanking on this app. It's a relatively new app and I'm blanking on the name of it, but the premise of it is that at a certain time every day you get a message that says, Take your photo. And the idea of it is that everyone posts a picture of what they're doing whenever that message comes across and.
It's not be real is it? Oh, yes. Yes. Okay. Cause this is new to me. Be real. Yeah. Okay. Tell me about that one. Cause this just started.
Yeah. My sister, oh my gosh, my sister is telling, my sister is, um, uh, 23. Uh, so she's like, my, like, is this really a thing? Kind of a person like <laugh>, she's my touchpoint for a lot of new stuff. But, so she was telling me about this app and I was like, Are you on there? Are you, are you doing this? Like, you have to be really mindful about what you're one, what you're taking a picture of. I mean, and most of the time it's just people taking selfies of them, you know, walking or studying or.
Dancing or whatever. Most of the time they're really just people doing life. We have to, to be thinking about what are the surroundings that are behind us while we're taking those pictures. Because one, you may be taking pictures of people who don't wanna, don't wanna have their picture taken. So that's a whole nother piece. The, that we could talk about for hours, I think. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but also thinking about that location, the, the location aspect. If you're taking pictures of yourself in very recognizable locations, or even if you're taking pictures in front of your house with, again, with like put a posting your house number, when you post those things to the app, they are in the metaverse, so to speak.
Right. They are, they're already out there and you can't get it back once you post it out there. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, so we just have to really be, it's so much of it comes back to being mindful, which is, which is really one really difficult for just us as humans to, to be, to keep a lot of this stuff at the front part of our brains, but especially for our, our kids and our teens who don't have that full, full frontal cortex working.
I knew I had a lot to talk about today, but like, I feel like I'm even more nervous than when I started because I thought I was doing a good job. And then I hear your, you know, five red flags and I'm like, Oh my God, I didn't even think about any of those.
Oh. And that's part of it though. I think that that's, a lot of us don't think about these things because we weren't taught how to do it and we weren't taught how to teach our kids how to do it. So I think you really have to, you've already started doing such an awesome job of helping your kids figure out how to live their life online because they're consciously thinking about it. That is the biggest piece is just letting them know that the way that they behave online ha can and does have offline consequences good and bad.
Yeah. And, and that is the, I think the biggest piece because we all have to, to look at things from our own space and we can only do what we can do with the information we have mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And as we start to come across new information, we shift and we pivot like we do with any other parenting situation. Um, and so much of it is giving ourselves grace, which is hard, especially I think as moms we're <laugh> we're really good at, um, at saying, Oh, I could have done this better Yeah.
And doing this better. And the thing is, sure, you could have if you knew the information, you knew now, so the next time it comes up, you will do it better.
Um, and it's <laugh> it's really funny. Like I'll listen back through these, through talks with clients and, and podcasts like this, and I'm like, Oh yeah, I needed that reminder for myself. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I <laugh> so many times. I'll say, Okay, this is, I just need to, to soak that in for myself. Um, because I think it's a universal thing for, for moms especially to, to internalize that.
Now is there any, i I know when my kids were starting out in the digital world, I should say is I was kinda looking for like a book of anything, you know, a video, something to want, something to listen to. Is there any resources like that that really just kind of like walks parents through like different age groups and different, you know, things that they should be aware of and talking to your kids that you're aware of?
Um, there are so many, so many things available online. Lots and lots of resources. Um, Common Sense Media is one of my favorite spots to get to get those kind of resources from. Um, because there one, they're just, they have a lot of content, so a lot of times you'll be able to find what you're looking for there. Um, and, and their resources always, I feel like always have a really good balance of telling you like, Okay, this is really good for this age group.
This may not be that great and here's why mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, and letting, letting you make those decisions for your family. Um, but having, I think common sense would probably be my number one resource for finding digital things, um, online. For sure.
So what would you like our listeners to know about just raising their kids in this digital world?
Oh gosh. If I had to sum it up, it would be, um, having patience with yourself and with them. Um, because we're all learning and though they, uh, you may have heard the term digital natives. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they, you know, they seemingly understand that world so much better than we do, but they don't, they don't really <affirmative> they understand. They, they don't have fear when using the technology. They don't have that same hesitancy that we have as adults with the technology.
Um, because they've grown up with it. It's always been a part of their lives. Those personal relationships, those interpersonals uh, just engaging and communicating and how that affects us offline is something that they don't, they don't understand. And they need us to to guide and mentor them through that.
Yes. Yeah, that's such a good point. And what I've been asking all my guests, what are your favorite parenting resources?
Number one is other moms.
Know down <laugh>,.
Hands down other moms. Yeah. Especially when my kids, I mean, I remember when my kids were smaller and we were in mom's groups and then once they all started going to school, I really was like, well now, now what do I do when I have <laugh>? When I have a question, what do I do? Um, but I found, you know, I found things like, you know, like your podcast, like, like parenting blogs and just like our kids are finding relationships and community online. Um, I was able to find, uh, the mom connection online.
So I actually, my, um, for a long time my connection was with uh, is a mom running group and I'm blanking on the name of it right now. It getting late on the East coast right now. So that.
<Laugh>. But it was a mom's running group from, their names are Dimity and Sarah and they have a podcast and a blog and they would go to races. And um, it was really great to, to find different groups to connect with that way and go on a walk, go on a run, and everybody be able to be like, Okay, here's what's going on,.
<Laugh>. Oh, nice. Yeah.
And you could either talk or you could listen or you could just run or you could walk and, um, yeah, that was, that was probably one of my biggest,.
You know, this was an amazing conversation. I, I really appreciate you just talking about the digital world, how to handle our kids <laugh> and, um, teaching me quite a bit. So I'm gonna have to have more conversations, my poor kids because every time I have a conversation, like literally once a week I do a podcast. So I have a conversation and after each podcast go upstairs and I said, Okay, we need to talk. They're like, Oh my god, <laugh> so mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. They're not so happy about the podcast sometimes cuz I now have multiple conversations, but I am so grateful for all these people coming on and just teaching me and everybody else <laugh> so many great things that we need to think about.
Thank you so much for having me. This was awesome.
Thank you for listening to this episode. Sarah has made me realize that I also have to be careful not only how my kids are using the internet, but also what I am posting as well. Let's continue these discussions on our Real Life Momz Facebook group. And don't forget to keep having conversations with our children so you can navigate this digital world together.
CEO & Digital Wellness Coach
Sarah Maynard is the founder and CEO of THE START EFFECT. She helps people understand the impact the digital world has on their offline lives and find balance between online and unplugged so that they can live a safe, healthy, and intentional life in both worlds.
Sarah is a passionate storyteller and lifelong learner. She has worked with kids for almost 20 years and she is a children’s book writer and illustrator and digital marketing communications strategist.