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Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

How Your Family Can Manage Technology Well (Part 1 of 2)

How Your Family Can Manage Technology Well (Part 1 of 2)

Arlene Pellicane looks at some ways you can draw boundaries around your family’s tech use. She also identifies five healthy habits to cultivate in your child when it comes to relationships. You’ll gain some solid insight about technology and digital devices along with some practical tools for connecting with your children in the midst of their tech-driven world. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: July 9, 2024

Preview:

Arlene Pellicane: National Institute of Health are doing a study of 10,000 kids and what they’re saying is a child who sleeps at least eight hours a night and who gets one hour a day of exercise and who is on that amusing entertainment two hours or less a day, that that is a winning combination. So one hour, get outside or inside. But physical exercise. Sleep for eight hours a day and limit your screen time to two hours or less. And if you can get there, your kids will be set up for, to be, have, be much healthier than the average child.

End of Preview

John Fuller: Arlene Pellicane joins us today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I think the number one, uh, response we get from parents is, “What can I do with screens?” It’s overwhelming and, you know, sometimes Jean and I did it. Well, sometimes we didn’t. I give her far more credit. I was more passive about it.

John: Mm.

Jim: You know, I wasn’t as intentional. And, you know, no matter where you’re at in that spectrum of screen control, uh, today’s program will give you, uh, more information about how to manage those things.

John: Mm.

Jim: You know, we delayed the phones as long as we could, smartphones. I think Trent and Troy, that was a good thing. Jean was big on imagination. Let’s not let them have too much screen time.

John: Right.

Jim: So they did the Legos and all those things. And, uh, those are good things we did. And again, I think on my side I was probably, “Ah, that’s all right. They’ll be fine.” And we need more input, uh, as parents as to the damage that can be done when it comes to screen time.

John: Mm-hmm. And Arlene Pellicane is mom two three young adults and wrote a terrific book with Dr. Gary Chapman. It’s called Screen Kids: 5 Relational Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-Driven World. Uh, Arlene is here and you can learn more about her and this great book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Arlene, welcome back to Focus.

Arlene: It’s great to be with you. I don’t know if I should say. My one is not a young adult yet. She is 14.

Jim: ah.

Arlene: But she would love the little boost.

Jim: Oh, yeah.

John: Yeah, there you go.

Jim: You look so much older.

Arlene: She, she acts like a-

Jim: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Arlene: She acts like a young adult. She’s very mature. (laughs)

Jim: Well, that’s good. Well listen, we did talk about that last time you were on and we mentioned our mutual affection for delaying phones. (laughs)

Arlene: Yes. (laughs)

Jim: And, uh, probably the best advice we ever … Jean and I ever received was just put it off as long as possible.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: So, you know, Trent and Troy would say, “Hey, dad when are we gonna get a phone?” And w- I’d say, “Oh, yeah. Let me talk to mom about that.” Six months would go by.

Arlene: That’s right.

Jim: “Did you guys talk about that?” “Oh, not yet. Let me, let me do that.”

Arlene: That’s-

Jim: And another six months would go by.

Arlene: That’s right. (laughs)

Jim: So it really worked out and, uh-

John: (laughs)

Arlene: (laughs) Yes.

Jim: You know, (laughs) just being the dumb parent.

Arlene: It’s like, “What? My parents are very forgetful, aren’t they?”

Jim: (laughs)

John: “Forgetful old dad. What are we gonna do?”

Jim: Hey. (laughs)

Arlene: Just that’s a, that’s a easy way out, man. “I just forgot for about 10 years.”

Jim: I just keep forgetting. Yeah.

Arlene: Yeah. (laughs)

Jim: But … And it was good. They didn’t pester us about it so, you know, some children may be a little more insistent about that phone.

John: Mm-hmm.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: But you did it. I mean, you delayed it and now your kids are older since you were here with us last time. H- how’s it going? (laughs)

Arlene: Yeah. And, and I’m telling you if you will get ahold of that one thing, delay the smartphone until at least high school or later. If you can get there, you are gonna be so much further ahead-

Jim: “But mom-

Arlene: … than most people.”

Jim: … all my friends have one. Mom.”

Arlene: I … It’s like, “I’m sorry.”

Jim: “Come on, mom.”

Arlene: And then you just have to realize you’re gonna-

Jim: (laughs)

Arlene: My husband loves to say you- you’re gonna pay the man. You’re either gonna pay ’em before or you’re gonna pay ’em after.

John: Mm.

Arlene: So if you say, “Okay, fine. I will give you the phone because I can’t handle it,” right. So y- that was easy. You did it. But you’re gonna pay later when your kid is a seventh grader, ninth grader, whatever it is, fourth grader and you’re like fighting over the phone all the time. Then you’re gonna pay.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: Or you can pay first by saying, “You know? We’re gonna do the hard road now and we’re gonna say, ‘Child of mine, you’re gonna wait until 16. You’re gonna wait until high school. You’re gonna …’” Whatever that age is that you think. You know, I would suggest high school or later. And the social research is coming out to back that but whatever that thing is, you know, if you will hold onto that date, that’s gonna help you. No parent ever says, “Oh, man. This phone is so awesome. I should’ve given this to you (laughs) two years ago.”

John: Ah.

Arlene: You know, so we decided to wait all the way to the senior year in high school.

Jim: Yeah, I mean-

Arlene: Yeah. Like we really waited.

Jim: … your son did that, right? It w- … Yeah.

Arlene: So the senior year of high school we say, “Would you like to have a phone? Shall we have this conversation?”

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: And amazingly, so my son did not get it in, until in-between … before … Basically the summer before college is when he got the phone and it was very funny because it was like he didn’t even barely know it was there because (laughs) he was so used to … That’s what you’re trying to do-

Jim: Not having it.

Arlene: … is the habits.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah. He lost the first one, right?

Arlene: He lost the first-

Jim: Yeah. (laughs)

Arlene: Yeah, it was … We were backpacking in Yosemite and there it went down the river.

Jim: (laughs)

Arlene: And it was like, “Well, good thing you-

Jim: “Oh, well.”

Arlene: … had my old one-

Jim: (laughs)

Arlene: … ’cause there that one went.” You know? The second one went into a cold plunge. It was in his pocket and went right in the cold plunge and we’re like … Like that’s like a ice bath. And we’re like, “Uh, your phone is in your pocket.” You know, so it’s like-

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: … he doesn’t even know. So honestly, your kids can grow up with these habits that, that really will serve them in life.

Jim: And it feels like you can’t say no. For some parents i- it-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: They’re just, you know, “Ah.” And I think to a degree, uh, we were a bit like that.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, Trent was 17 and Troy was 15 ’cause we just did it the same time. We thought that would be unfair. We probably should’ve waited (laughs) for Troy. But the point is this, that, you know, if you can do that one thing, that’s great. Some parents didn’t do that. They-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: You know, a lot of them have it at 10, 11, 12.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: But we’re gonna talk this time and next time ’cause, uh, we really wanna get into this topic. But, uh, it’s never too late when your kids are at home-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … to really dial that back. And it’s really critical for neuro pathway development and there’s so much … I just today was reading a newsfeed that said the Surgeon General is going to require social media companies to put a warning on social media for children-

John: Ah.

Jim: … and their parents. Uh, that’s … It’s like the side of a cigarette pack now.

Arlene: Can you imagine?

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: So I, I mean, I just read that this morning.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: So, so we’re moving in that direction. Let’s talk about the digital norm. I don’t even know what that is. What is digital norm and how does it affect our children?

Arlene: Yeah. So look around you, whether it’s at a restaurant, in your own home, in the schools. Kids are distracted, they are sleep-deprived, they are looking for amusement and they’re not happy.

Jim: Constantly.

Arlene: And they’re not happy.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: And they don’t have purpose. And that’s why you see all these different things from, let’s say, the average child is on social media, you know, s- many of them say most of the day. So le-

Jim: Well, what … I mean, that … What’s that? Seven hours, I think, is the-

Arlene: Yeah, so it’s-

Jim: You know … Wow.

John: Mm-hmm.

Arlene: It’s a lot of hours in the day that kids are spending. Um, you know, by 2023, 95% of kids are saying they’re on social media, so this is a lot of kids, a lot of teenagers. And they’re also saying that they feel better when they’re not with their phone. So they did a survey … Pew did a survey of kids and 75% of them are saying, “I feel happier. I feel more peaceful when I am not with my device.”

Jim: Right.

Arlene: And 44% report, “I have anxiety when I have my phone.” But it is this feeling of being trapped that there is no other way.

Jim: Right.

Arlene: Like, “Everyone is on the phone. Everyone is using the phone, so I have to use the phone too.” And then as parents we think, “Oh, we need that digital norm as well because everybody else has one.” But we have to also step back and say, “What are the results of this and is it okay to be different so that I can have a different-

Jim: Yeah, social norms.

Arlene: … result?”

Jim: Yeah, social norms are al- not always the way you wanna go. (laughs)

Arlene: They’re not always the way to go. Progress if it’s in the wrong direction is, is not progress.

Jim: Now, we’re gonna talk about a whole host of things related to this but let’s talk about what kids need. And one of the things you say in the book is they need to be able to fail.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: And be able to recover from that failure. And you say that screen time and phones and social media tend to reduce a child’s introduction to failure, ’cause-

John: Mm.

Jim: … they can just keep moving, right?

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: They didn’t play the game well. Oh, well. Move on. But describe what-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … you’re getting at and, and the benefit again for limiting it.

Arlene: Yeah. How do we get resilient? How do we develop perseverance? By failing. By … And then realizing, “I failed but I recovered.” That’s the thing. It’s like I tried out for the team and I didn’t make it. And that was hard but hey, I found another sport I liked or I found something else and I recovered. I did really poorly on that test but then I got a tutor and I studied and I did better. So it’s all these real world experiences. And it could be as little as I didn’t wanna order a hamburger at the restaurant but my parent made me order and I was terrified ’cause I didn’t wanna speak to the adult.

Jim: Yeah. The interaction of ordering.

Arlene: But then … Right? And it’s like, I have to order something. Can’t I do this on my phone? And I did it but then I, I realized, you know, oh, maybe I totally failed. Like I, I mumbled and they couldn’t hear me. But then I realized that’s not a big deal. Kids need that over and over and over again so that they can solve their own problems, that they can see that failure is not fatal. That I can move on from this. And if we as parents are just either overprotecting, right? Like, “Oh, I don’t want them to fail.” Or just think of it. If they’re just sitting in their room with their phone, if they fail it’s really not a big deal. They just start over. They just … If they fail, let’s say, in a relationship. Fine. We’ll just get in the relationship, out of the relationship and we’ll make a new relationship. And that’s the trouble with social media is it’s so shallow. Like super shallow.

Jim: Right. That’s the point.

Arlene: It- it’s super easy to jump into a group and super easy to jump out of a group.

Jim: Mm.

Arlene: So if you have a failure in communication, you make someone mad, something … You just get out. Versus if you have a failure with a friend that you’ve had since kindergarten you try to mend that relationship in real life and it teaches you something.

Jim: Yeah, no. It’s good.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: The other, the other component of that is the direct correlation when you look at empathy a- and the development-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … of empathy and how, when screen use goes up, empathy goes down.

Arlene: Certainly does.

Jim: I mean, describe that.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: Um, what you’re looking at in the data.

Arlene: Think about it. If you are on a screen and you just make a comment, you’re trying to get as much reaction. That’s how social media works, is you’re trying to get people to react to you. So you might say something very cruel to someone. You might jump on a bandwagon of people bullying someone else. But in real life, if you were face-to-face with that kid you would never face-to-face to a kid be like, “You’re really ugly and you should go die.” Like you would-

Jim: Right.

Arlene: … never, ever do that. And so for kids and for teens as they’re getting used to just communicating online, it’s disembodied. It’s just on a machine.

Jim: Mm.

Arlene: And that is very dangerous because you lose empathy for who you’re looking at. You lose the skill, the know-how of looking at someone and, and just by even their body language knowing, oh, they’re sad today. Or, oh, they look really burdened today. Like kids, teens, they don’t have that skill because they’re not constantly watching-

Jim: Mm.

Arlene: … people and peers and they’re not able to see that.

Jim: Right.

Arlene: So think of just that emotional intelligence you want your kids to have because some day they’re gonna be a wife o- or a husband hopefully or a parent.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Arlene: And they needs those empathy kinds of skills and those skills are only used in real life. You cannot learn that online.

John: Mm.

Jim: You know, when, when you look at it, I think the basic question is what is the draw? Why do we-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … so naturally gravitate … Both kids and adults if we’re honest.

Arlene: Totally. Yeah.

Jim: We all are into it. We’re all using screens. It’s efficient, effective. I mean, those are all the adult-

Arlene: Right. Exactly. (laughs) Getting our jobs done, ’cause-

John: (laughs)

Jim: … uh, rationalizations.

Arlene: … we’re productive.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: We can work from anywhere.

Jim: So but what, what is it that-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … you know, drops our guard? We don’t really pay attention to what it’s doing to us. Is it just that much entertainment value for us?

Arlene: Yeah. Something happened in 2013 so that before there, there was the phone and it was like a Swiss army knife and you could do maps and you could do music. But what happened in 2013 is they saw all this, all the, the research shows that depression goes up and anxiety goes up and mental health goes down. Why? Well, we started getting these social media things where we shared and we liked. You know, the like button came and we shared things and we had the front-facing camera where we took pictures of ourselves. So we became all of a sudden instead of just using it to connect to a few people that we knew in real life, it became like let’s broadcast ourselves. So, uh, communication one to many people instead of one-to-one or one to a few that you know. And that shift made us think like, “Oh, I need to be seen. I need to manage my image. I nee- …” And both for adults and for kids. And when the kids got the smartphone in their hand the mom and dad, we got the smartphone in our hand too. And we have to realize that, wait, this isn’t just like a blank slate.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: Like big tech has really studied you. They know like, “Oh, you wanna look at golf, and you wanna look at shoes,” and-

Jim: How did you know? (laughs)

Arlene: “And you really care about the news.”

John: (laughs)

Arlene: “And this is your hot button.” And so to understand that, wait a minute, this device has been engineered; and we know this. We’ve heard this; to keep us on because it’s bottomless, it doesn’t end. It’s super entertaining.

Jim: Totally.

Arlene: And it’s like, “Oh, what was that?”

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: And then you have to know. You have to like-

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: … complete the loop. “What was that notification about? I must know.” And we’re there. And then we look around us and everyone else is doing it, so it further reinforces that, oh, this must be okay. This must be the norm.

Jim: Yeah. You know, uh, m- my family and I, we just returned from a trip to Italy and of course we hit all the museums.

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: The Sistine Chapel and all. The thing that caught my attention the most was how many young girls were just posing for a selfie-

John: Mm.

Jim: … with the sticks.

Arlene: So those are-

Jim: They were just into it.

Arlene: So it’s like, “Okay, the primary reason of buying a ticket and going all the way to Italy was so that I could do this really cool thing on my social media feed.”

Jim: Right.

Arlene: Right? Instead of, “Wow-

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: I got to see this for myself.”

John: Mm.

Jim: So, so good. Um, it also … Uh, you know, in the book, talk about how social media and screens rewire our brain.

John: Mm.

Jim: This is the dopamine issue and all that. But w- w- w- … How does it rewire our brain?

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: And this is where I think as parents we tend to not really understand the battlefield. And your kids over-indulging in what actually is happening to them physiologically as well as emotionally and mentally.

John: Mm.

Arlene: Let’s go back to that Sistine Chapel. That beauty, right? So when you … From birth to five your child’s brain is just exploding. They’re painting the canvas of the Sistine Chapel. They’re having all these neural pathways. They’re learning how to walk, how to talk, how to relate to people. It’s usually important. So zero to five is amazingly important for the brain to develop and that’s the brain your child will have for life.

John: Mm.

Arlene: So you’re listening and you have a two-year-old, you have a four-year-old. I mean, right now statistically half of two to four-year-olds have their own smartphone or their tablet and two thirds of five to eight-year-olds-

John: Oh, my.

Arlene: … have their own. And you can see it’s because their … the mom or dad is tired of, “Give me that, give me that, give me that,” right? And they’re like, “Well, let’s just get you your own.” Right?

John: Right.

Jim: Th- they-

Arlene: So but from birth to five is really important.

Jim: Yeah. I w- I was just-

Arlene: That sis- … yeah.

Jim: … gonna say as a parent, I mean, it’s very easy-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … to let the kids have that because then they’re engaged and you don’t have to follow them around the house and make sure they don’t stick a screwdriver in the electrical socket and all that stuff.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: They’re just engaged. But there’s a, there’s a price to pay.

Arlene: There’s a pr- … You got to pay the man. So then all of a sudden that brain doesn’t know how to do things; whether it’s reading, relating to people, motor skills, right? Jumping, playing, running. These are all things that come very naturally to kids. So birth to five, think Sistine Chapel. I really need my kid to be very limited on screens so their brain can develop. And then they get another Sistine Chapel burst at puberty. (laughs) So my goodness. So the Lord wired it so that during puberty you get more brain cells and that whatever is being used is kept and whatever is not being used is pruned away.

Jim: Mm.

Arlene: So if your child is reading, relating to people, fishing, you know, playing soccer, adventuring … You know, pretending being an astronaut, you know, doing all these things, that’s the brain they’re gonna get to keep. But if they are watching TV-

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: Sitting, watching Netflix, playing video games, doing their social media feed, those are the brain cells that live-

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: … and the other ones day.

Jim: Yeah.

John: Mm. There’s so much here today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Our guest is Arlene Pellicane and, uh, she has co-written a book with Dr. Gary Chapman called Screen Kids: 5 Relational Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-driven World. Certainly the need is great and, uh, we’ve got this book and other resources for you. Uh, check the links at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or give us a call, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Arlene, uh, cyber bullying, and I’ll extend that to kinda the predator issue that’s going on.

John: Mm.

Jim: In fact, I mean, we probably all know somebody who’s had a child maybe, uh, that’s been pursued by a predator. We’ve got somebody who works on the show that has experienced that. So speak to the parents about how to be attentive-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … um, and how to safeguard. I mean i- i- it just requires attention and, you know, our minds are going every which way with work and keeping the house going and relationships of our own, and … But this kind of is job one-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … to put a guardrail there for your kids when it comes to social media.

Arlene: And this is another big reason of pushing out your child getting social media until they are 16 or older because-

Jim: So they can think.

Arlene: … of that pressure.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: So that they don’t have that added liability.

Jim: Yeah.

John: Mm.

Arlene: A lot of times we will choose the phone because we will think, “That will make my child safe, because I can get in touch with them.” But the truth of the matter is when you do that, now you’re opening up your child to all sorts of people that they would never, you would never want them to meet in real life, right?

Jim: Uh-huh.

Arlene: So you would never take your child to a seedy part of town and say, “Hey, I’ll pick you up in three hours.”

Jim: Right. (laughs)

Arlene: But because you are sitting, they’re sitting in your living room you figure that’s fine.

Jim: Boy that’s a great analogy.

Arlene: And so that’s something that we have to realize, that wait a minute. My child might be sitting here but they are not fine. Uh, they did a survey of 2,000 teenagers with private accounts on Instagram and 75% of them received direct messages of asking, you know, for inappropriate pictures, of s- predators. All those kinds of things. When a child is playing Minecraft and you think like, “Oh, this is fine.”

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: It’s a very short time until they’re already exposed to people that they do not know who very m- you know, m- many times … And understand that this doesn’t … Like let’s say there’s like a 5% chance that this would happen, okay? So maybe 95% of kids are gonna be fine and not experience this. But you think about that. What would we do that we would have a 5% chance of our kid really meeting someone that’s gonna wreck their life for the next five years?

Jim: Right.

John: Mm.

Arlene: You know, if there was a 5% chance of that happening, would we send them to that field trip?

Jim: Right.

Arlene: If we knew 5% of these kids are gonna come back really, like, needing counseling, needing help. Really having a, a really tough day-

Jim: Traumatized.

Arlene: … for the next 10 years.

John: Mm.

Arlene: Right? We wouldn’t do that.

John: Yeah.

Arlene: So to understand that that is an issue. And the other thing I think is to always have this open conversation with your kids. That your kids know you love them, your kids know they’re … you are on your side. And that they know that if … Like practice it. “Hey, son of mine. I’m giving you this phone. Daughter, social media. If you see a message like this …” And you show them. And you show them this person. “I wanna see, you know, a picture.” Whatever. You show them. “When you see this, you come to me right away-

John: Mm.

Arlene: … and let’s talk about it, right? Because I wanna protect you. That’s my job.”

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: And you as the parent might feel like, oh, you know, I … They’re teenagers. They’re independent. No, they want the guardrails. My daughters will say, “Why does your generation let my generation …”

Jim: (laughs)

Arlene: Like, “Why are you leaving us alone?”

John: Mm.

Arlene: Like, “Why are you leaving my friends just … so they get into all this trouble? Why won’t the parents say, ‘That’s wrong? I’m gonna take that away from you.’” So-

Jim: And you’re leaning now into the A, B, Cs.

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: And I do wanna cover that. Yeah.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: It’s a good acronym. It’s-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: I- it allows a parent to think through what-

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: … they need to be in tune. What are the A, B, Cs?

Arlene: Yeah, so as you look at that screen time, whether they’re on social media, they’re watching a show, they’re on a video game, the A is the attitude. Right? When your child is done with this activity, (laughs) what is their attitude like?

Jim: Yeah. Good.

Arlene: Are they like, “Okay, this is fine. You’re acting normally. Like you …” Or like, “Wow, you are really moody.

Jim: (laughs)

Arlene: Or you are really irritable.

Jim: Defiant.

Arlene: Or you’re defiant, or you’re impatient.” So what is the attitude like? What’s the attitude produced by the screen time? The B is the behavior. You know, what behavior is being shown? Because the kids will imitate. We are imitators. We all are. We look around a room, we size up; adults also; what’s happening, and we do it too, right? So the behavior, whatever is being modeled on that screen, whether it’s m- too much makeup for a young girl or too much violence for a boy. Like they wanna model what they’re seeing.

Jim: Mm.

Arlene: So what behavior is being modeled by that show, modeled by that video game? And is that the behavior you want your child to do?

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: Right? And then the C is the character. What kind of character is lifted up, right? What’s the relationship between the kid and the parents? What kind of character … You know the, the, the 10 commandments. That’s how we live. Honor your father and mother. And if kids learn how to honor an … father and their mother, guess what? That’s the first commandment with promise you’re gonna live long. Well, most of the things that kids look at on screens are not teaching them, “Hey, child. You should honor your mother and father.”

Jim: Right.

Arlene: I mean, I think there’s like a scrap of that. You know, there’s … I can’t even imagine where a kid would get that message.

Jim: Right.

Arlene: So think of like what is the character being cultivated in the heart of your child? Who do they emulate? Who do they wanna be? Is that character what we’re after? And then really a lotta times we’ll think, well, we, we just wanna give the screens because it makes it, let’s be honest. Easier on us, easier for the kid. But guess what? What kind of character does a kid create when they just have a easy life?

Jim: And y- you know, that, yeah, that’s just good thinking. That’s good parenting-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … to think through those things. The, um … You know, we’re gonna come back tomorrow but I do wanna cover just some good tips today. And if you can’t listen tomorrow, download the (laughs) the app for the s-

John: Yeah. Yup.

Arlene: Digital vegetable, as we talk about.

Jim: … for the phone and … Yeah. But let me, let me read something in the prep here that our team put together. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends … And so many parents are saying, “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

Arlene: Exactly, yeah.

Jim: But they recommend parents avoid television and screen time for children under two. So that’s avoid it. Not give ’em an hour. Avoid it. And then, uh … With the exception Facetiming with-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … grandma and grandpa. Children two to five should be limited to one hour per weekday.

John: Mm.

Jim: Think of that. Two to five. That’s young. Um, let them use their imaginations. Put them in the basement with Legos. I’m telling you, it works. Then you get to step on them. (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Arlene: (laughs)

Jim: But limit that to one hour per weekday and only three hours on weekend days, okay? For ages six and older, encourage healthy habits and then limit screens and teach them to self-limit. So that’s some. But what are some other, uh, good, you know, screen habits-

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: … that we should be teaching our kids at all ages?

Arlene: Yeah. They did … Uh, National Institute of Health are doing a study of 10,000 kids and what they’re saying is a child who sleeps at least eight hours a night and who gets one hour a day of exercise and who is on that amusing entertainment two hours or less a day, that that is a winning combination.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: So this is like what grandma would’ve said. “Get outside and play for one hours.” And it … I mean, it’s pretty easy, kids without the influence of screens. That’s easy for them to play for one hour a day. That’s not, not a big deal. So one hour. Get outside or inside, but physical exercise. Sleep for eight hours a day and limit your screen time to two hours or less. And if you can get there, your kids will be set up for, to be, have, be much healthier-

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: … than the average child.

Jim: And let’s end where … I had mentioned at the beginning, for the mom and dad that maybe they haven’t done it well …

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: And I’m telling you, don’t feel guilty. I was there too.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, Jean was on top of it and I was pretty passive. And, you know, she got upset with me saying, “Come on. Be engaged here.” And, uh, I was to an extent, but I wish I could do that do over-

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: … and be more mindful of this. So I wanna encourage parents, uh, not to give up. “Oh, well, they’re 13 now.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: They’ve had it for six years.” What can that parent do that m- has not managed it well to reverse some of the approach they’ve taken?

Arlene: And it’s so good what you’re saying because in most families, one is more strict and one is more lenient.

Jim: Yeah, and that’s typical.

Arlene: It’s so typical and it’s right where we are with our five-year-old, 14-year-old, 18-year-old. Apology. You know, Dr. Gary Chapman and I, when we wrote Screen Kids, we are big on it’s not like, “Okay. You’re … You are on this thing too long. We’re gonna take it away.” You know, but it’s, “Hey, I’ve just learned some new information.” We do this all the time.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: That we are learning new information. And when we learn the new information we course correct. “Child of mine, I’ve learned some new information and I’m sorry because I see that what is normal is not healthy. The Surgeon General is saying that we are in a mental health crisis and I wanna help you. And I’m sorry because I gave the device too early. I let you play this game too much. It’s taking over your life. You know, I, I had … Like I gave you the social media. I’m paying for the social media and I see how unhappy it makes you and I’m really sorry. Let’s talk about steps of how we can get this better under control together.” With your older kids, you know, teenagers. “Let’s do this together. How can I as your parent-

Jim: It’s good.

Arlene: … help you?” And I think a few really good places to start is the screen free mealtime. So everyone, put your phones away. Have at least seven meals a week. Like shoo for that. Seven meals a week together without phones and you will see things improve almost overnight.

Jim: So true.

Arlene: Um, collect that phone overnight so that your child can get that eight hours of sleep and start there.

Jim: Well, Arlene, this is the beginning so let’s, uh, come back like I said and continue the discussion. And hey, we’re here to encourage you in your parenting journey.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That’s what we’re trying to do here. Uh, I am a big believer that nobody’s perfect. (laughs) And certainly not me. Uh, but man, all these tools and ideas are helpful in shaping and framing how we go about, uh, creating a predictable outcome. Not a guaranteed, not formulaic outcome. But what are the things we can do as a parent to help a child do the best they can do? And it’s very easy to be lazy. I get it. At times I’m like that and, uh, yet we’ve got to be mindful. I think there’s more diligence on the part of the parent required today than ever before. So sorry, but that’s being born in a high-tech environment is gonna be like. So let us help you. We have a great book, Screen Kids. And if you can make a gift of any amount we’ll get it to you as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. If you could do that monthly like Jean and I do for Focus, that’s great. It helps us throughout the year then to budget. A one-time gift is great as well. But we wanna get it into your hands.

John: Yeah. Your donation makes a big difference in how, uh, effective we can be as a ministry so call today, donate and request your book, Screen Kids: 5 Relational Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-driven World. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Well, thanks for joining us today. And plan to be with us next time as we continue the conversation with Arlene Pellicane. I’m John Fuller and thanks for listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.

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Screen Kids: 5 Relational Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-Driven World

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