ScreenStrong Families

Video Game Addiction: ScreenStrong's Founding Story (#113)

August 03, 2022 Melanie Hempe
ScreenStrong Families
Video Game Addiction: ScreenStrong's Founding Story (#113)
Show Notes Transcript

Every organization has a founding story, and ScreenStrong is no different. Today we will hear Melanie give a detailed account of her family's struggle with video game addiction—in the form of her oldest son, Adam.

To hear Adam give a first-hand account of his story, check out THIS EPISODE.

This interview was originally aired August 20, 2020, on The Save the Kids Podcast.


Subscribe, rate, and review this podcast to help spread the word. Stay Strong! Our ScreenStrong Lifestyle Courses are NOW AVAILABLE!


Production Team:

  • Host—Melanie Hempe
  • Producer & Audio Editor—Olivia Kernekin
Melanie Hempe:

Hi everyone, and welcome to the ScreenStrong families podcast, bringing you the best solutions for parents who are serious about eliminating screen conflicts in their home. This is Melanie Hampi, and I am so glad you found us. Welcome back if you are an old friend, and if you are new today, special welcome for you. And maybe you should give a special thank you for that friend that told you about this podcast. The structure of today's episode is a little different from what you're used to. But I'm very excited to share this particular show with you. Every organization has a founding story, and today we are going to tell you the story of Adam, you could say that this is the story that started ScreenStrong. As many of you know, Adam is my oldest son, and for this episode, you will hear the story of his video game addiction and our family's personal struggle with that. It was tough on him and it was tough on us. This version of Adam's story is from an interview I did with the late Colin Koechner, Collins's wish was that we spread this message far and wide. And I am so happy to share this with you today.

Collin Kartchner:

Joining me from North Carolina is Melanie happy Mellie. Thank you so much for joining my podcast.

Melanie Hempe:

Thank you. Awesome. Thank you. Excited to be here.

Collin Kartchner:

Thank you so much. And my listeners here in Utah are so excited to hear your southern accent we're so pumped to the twain just let that thing roll off the tongue. That's good. So let's jump right into your story. So you were a nurse for a long time. And then you had some things happen with your family, your kids, which then turns you into this warrior for for screen strong. So let's go right into it. Tell us your story. And how ScreenStrong became your thing?

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah, excellent. So I am a nurse. I am a labor and delivery nurse. So a lot of your listeners out there. love their labor and delivery.

Collin Kartchner:

Oh, we loved ours. Oh, oh my goodness. They're all crazy. They're all a little. They're all a little crazy. Where they is that without a thing. Like they're the most amazing thing. They always were a little we're like, Oh, my God love you. Maybe these 12 hour night shifts delivering babies like gets to you eventually.

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah, it's so fun. I love my job is awesome. It was wonderful. And I just had so much fun and went to nursing school learn so much about kids and I really specialized and all that but when I had started having my own kids, you know, I I don't know something's got disconnected. And so my oldest son, we have four. We have a boy a girl and two boys. And so my oldest son, Adam, I'll never forget, uh, you know how you have these images like burned in your brain. I'll never forget the day we first got a big ol Acer computer. And he was in his little footie pajamas, and he comes running in the room, and he sits down. And he got that mouse and he went to town and I thought, wow, he is the smartest kid ever. Like I didn't even know really how to use it. But of course, Adam did. So from that day, looking back, that was like, sort of a big mistake that I made. I didn't even know. But anyway, so fast forward to when he's six years old, and his baby sister was coming along. And so for his, for her being born. You know, we do things crazy things like oh, your baby sister brings you a present, right?

Collin Kartchner:

She brought with her from the womb. It's a new time. Exactly.

Melanie Hempe:

So she brought him a Gameboy. Oh my goodness. Was that a mistake? Right? So handheld. And back then everybody was saying that? All these things. We're teaching our kids eye hand coordination and hand eye accord, you know, and I'm thinking, wow, we're going to really get him ahead. In fact, some of the teachers at school said, oh, yeah, he should be playing that. And that really helped. And the whole time I'm thinking, Well, isn't baseball better for that? Getting a baseball, but

Collin Kartchner:

just sitting there with your hands and ever leaving like a one inch square, but just clicking really quick? Like, yeah,

Melanie Hempe:

is that really working? But you know, all through my medical background, I went to Emory University, I got a great education. No one ever told me anything about screens and kids and the warning signs and all that and I just, I just had no idea that there was I didn't even I did not know what I didn't know. And that's where I think a lot of parents today don't know what they don't know you're not meaning to avoid something you just don't know. And so by the time he got into middle school, I will say Adam had about 12 years of a pretty decent childhood. He would run around the backyard and you know, dig big holes and get dirty and bring me turtles and so we get did that part right? But the whole time Time, all through middle school, he was getting more and more interested in screens. And this was before smartphones. So we were just dealing mostly with all the game consoles. And I kept thinking how smart he was. And he was smart. He had straight A's, he never really had any learning problems. But I just kept thinking I wanted him to get ahead in this technology world. And so we allowed him, he played Minecraft, he played just all this stuff that was popular, you know, then, and we didn't limit it. I didn't have any way to know that I really should limit it. And I just thought it was kind of cute. And I thought I remember very distinctly thinking that he was learning computer code because I think one day he told me that and I believed him because he's my first child and you don't believe your first child. I'm learning

Collin Kartchner:

how to build websites by building Minecraft worlds. Yeah, that's what I thought anything to get mom to get off your case. Yeah,

Melanie Hempe:

yeah, yeah. Oh, he was selling it big. And

Collin Kartchner:

I'm gonna be a pro fortnight player, mom that I've heard that a lot. I want to take my son, he plays fortnight all day. But he told me one day, he's gonna be a pro fortnight player like Ninja and make a million dollars a year. I'm like, Well, do you want me to tell him? Or do you want to tell them? It's not gonna happen?

Melanie Hempe:

No, that's exactly where I was. And so what happened was Adam was really good at baseball. He was really good at piano. And he was really good at tennis. And so what happened through middle school, he started quitting all of those things. And it was back during that time. I don't know if you remember the days when we used to read blogs and magazine articles all the time about how we were over scheduling our kids. And so we had to be sure we didn't, we didn't over schedule them. So I thought, Okay, well, I don't want to over schedule him. And I would ask him, honey, what do you want to do, which now I noticed a really big mistake. I know, you shouldn't ask your kids. They don't know what the heck they want to do. But anyway, back then I didn't know. So he's like, I want to quit baseball. And, you know, part of me I started having more babies. And I'm thinking, well, that's not a bad idea. I don't have to drive so much. Right. So he quit baseball, he quit piano, which he was really good. That was something that was really positive for him. And by ninth grade, he was still trying to do tennis. But what happened? In ninth grade, he got a laptop issued to him at school. And that was the beginning of the end for us. Yeah, the minute they handed him that laptop was the minute that I've lost all, you know, control of our home. And I used to call myself the game cop mom. Yeah. And I think a lot of parents can understand what that I don't even have to tell you what that means. But the game I did not sign up for this job. But I was a game cop mom. And that meant I meant the kitchen timer, the stove, setting the timer, you know, for him to get on and off his game, because he would love to do that more than anything. I remember one time his friends came over, we've a pond in our backyard, and he was going to come fishing and Adam stayed in the house and played his video game while his friend was going out. And fish. I mean, is that like a sad story, but I was a game cop mom, I was the mean, mom all the time having to rip him off his game constantly. But what happened in ninth grade was I lost all my, my power, like all my leadership went out the window, because all of a sudden he had the smaller screen than you know, his laptop that the school told me was necessary. Of course, it was mandatory. They gave it to him. And they said he had to have it. And I'm like, Well, wait a minute. This also means now that I can't control his gaming. And so sure enough, he was gaming in math class. He was gaming at lunchtime. He was gaming, you know, after school at school. And all the teachers were not prepared for this. This was you. He graduated in 2010. So you know, this is a while ago. So we were all caught just unprepared for what was going to happen. Now fortunately, Adam was really good at school. So he kept his grades up because he knew that he had to keep his grades up in order, you know, gaming, yeah, gaming, but it caused a lot of conflict in our home. And, and so what happened during that time he quit his structured activities, which was the biggest mistake ever of one I will say one of the biggest mistakes that we made, we let him vote, so to speak. And now I know that you let your kids have a voice but you don't let them vote. That was a bad idea. So anyway, he quit all his stuff. And he just gamed and I bet he gamed, you know, I don't know, four or five or more hours every day because he would come home and we would go to bed and he would be gaming till two and three o'clock at night. Like I didn't even understand what was happening. But the whole time I was there was a lot of conflict. So for your listeners out there, i i Now promised myself I would never forget what it feels like to go through that pain. And I get really emotional about it because it's very painful to live in a house with a high school boy who loves gaming more than life. And who has dropped out of your family and who is gaming, like he would, he would appear to do his chores. But he, he mostly was living in the virtual world. And that was super painful. And there was a lot of conflicts around it. And we were constantly arguing around this ridiculous game time. And it was really hurting our family dynamics. And when the little kids came along his sister and then his brothers, I have his brothers are twin boys that are now 16. But he would, I would worry that he would, like, hurt them if they got near his gaming system, because he would get so angry. And I didn't understand what was going on in his brain, I had no idea. And I didn't even know that I was even supposed to know this stuff or to research it. And I just kept thinking, in nursing school, I never told me anything about this. And I would ask my friends, and they would say, well, Melanie, at least you know where he is. And he's not getting in trouble. And he's not doing drugs. And you know, he's not dating. He's not driving cars. I'm like, Yeah, you're right. He's not dating. And he's not driving. And aren't these things that you should be doing? And surely I don't want him on drugs. But this is like a drug like you don't understand he is on a drug. And I didn't know why. And I thought he was going to outgrow it. And so we went through ninth grade and 10th grade and ninth grade, he tried to try out for the tennis team. And then he didn't make it. And that was like the worst thing that that was truly one of the worst forks in the road. Because once he didn't make it, and I'm telling you now, with your high school kids, you've got to get them involved in activities, you do everything you can and that that was really sad. When that happened. It never should have happened. But anyway, but that happened. And so that was sort of like a turning point for him. And he's like, Oh, no, I'm gonna get into my game. And the reason why the gaming was so appealing to him is because he was very good at his game. And he could climb that leader ladder. And he was the healer and the whatever guy in the game, they needed him and he had his guilt. And the game does replace all that stuff that boys need in their life, you know, there's the competition, and it's just that need that will to power and to win. And that was filling all his needs. And I didn't know it. And so we get through to 10th grade and it got worse. He put on his Christmas list. I think even in eighth grade that he wanted to antidepressants for Christmas, I'm like, well is this normal like, now I know that gamers get super depressed. Because the dopamine that is produced in a game is so significant, there is so much dopamine, that nothing in real life can match it. And it's not only the amount of dopamine, but it's the repetition of that dopamine, it comes so quickly, so fast. Every time you get a click and look and alike and whatever and all that stuff they're doing, they get all these dollops of dopamine. So the minute that they are off the game, even just to come eat dinner, they they kind of crash, and they get depressed because your body, our bodies, the way our human body is made is it acclimates itself to that high level of dopamine. So if this makes sense, it starts producing less, because it's getting so much stimulation that it doesn't need to produce as much. So then when you're off of it, you're you're just depressed. And that's what poor thing. I mean, I didn't know what's going on with him. And he was just getting depressed every time he got off. I was getting mad at him every time he didn't get off. So by the time he's in 11th grade, you're not going to believe what we did. I mean, we were we were desperate. And I just my husband, I sat down and we thought, you know, there's so much conflict in our home. And Adam is such a good kid. I mean, he was not a bad kid. He he was just, it was just causing so much turmoil to every time my husband would be on his way home, you call me and say he better not be on that game when I walk in the door. And I'm like, Well, what do I do? I got three kids here. I don't know how to get him off. So what we taught, we taught and I knew this is gonna work. And so we told Adam, if you if you don't stop gaming, and you know, get a job and get some purpose in your life, then you're gonna have to move out of our house. Okay, so he was 16 he was taller than me. He had a mustache and you know, hair on his legs. And I thought he was an adult. Silly me. Again, they didn't tell me in nursing school back then that, hey, these teenagers are not adults. They're apprentice adults, and they don't really have a fully connected brain until they're 25 years old. So I was treating him like an adult. So we sat we went to have some ice cream with him. We sat and we looked at him across because we just knew like, I knew this was going to be the way to get him to get off this silly game and get back in our life. Right? Well, he just looked at us when we said Adam, you know with the kids and all you know your temper is getting really bad and we just feel like if you don't get off these video games, you're gonna have to move About, and he just looked at us and he said, Hmm, okay, no problem. Well, I was just crushed. I'm like, Well, gee, did that backfire. So the whole summer he did, he moved in with a friend. He moved in with his gaming buddy, and they just game the whole summer away. And then we worked with our youth leader at our church and decided to let him come back of his senior year and he was fine. I didn't really was fine. Like, I was so crushed that he didn't pick us. But I realized the heat or he had already moved. I made it matter where he's sleeping at night. His emotional life had already left him, he was gone already. We were no longer his village. I was not there. I was not the person that he was asking big life questions to. He had his little gaming gang that he was in. It's just like a gang. It's very much like a gang is how gangs, you know, get the allegiance of these little kids. You wonder how they do it? Well, this is how they do it. Yeah. So he came back. And I cannot wait for him to go to college. I mean, we got along. We just didn't have a super deep relationship, you know, and we still try, I still tried to put all these safeguards on his game. So anyway, what happened? I was so excited that he's moving to college, and he got a really good situation. He was in the engineering department at a big huge D one school. He was very smart. He didn't have any trouble. Like I said, I have to reiterate that because a lot of times people use that as their litmus test, you know, oh, my kids smart, he's fine. He whatever I'm telling you that it doesn't matter in so many way. He went to college. And I was so excited and all my friends are crying because their kids are going to college. I'm like, Wow. This is like the best thing. Adam is going to start his life. I'm so excited. Finally, Colin, finally, he was going to outgrow this silly, ridiculous habit. So he goes to college. And after his first year in college, he was a freshman. I pick him up a drive, you know, three hours, I pick him up, I go walking into his dorm room. And it just looks so strange. And I'm looking around and everything that we had brought at Christmas. Like all this, it was like exactly in the same exact location. And in his room. I'm like, Wait, this is really weird. Like, were you living here? And then he looks terrible. And I'm looking like what is going on? He had lost weight. He was like, breezy and dirty hair. And his bed was horrible. Like, I don't think of course, you know, like, I mean, I know. It's like your dorm room probably was really bad. I don't know. But I mean,

Collin Kartchner:

freshman year, yeah, they gotta burn those dorms when everyone's done.

Melanie Hempe:

They gotta burn. But anyway, this was a little bit unusual. And then we put everything on the car. And I said, Okay, why don't you need to, like say goodbye to your friends. And he said, Well, I don't have any friends. I said, Well, what about the people you were sharing your bathroom with? Like in the suite? Can you go? Well, I don't even know their names. You know, I don't know. And I'm like, what? You don't even know the names. So this whole thing is clicking in my head. We get in the car, we're driving down i 40. And he and I'm just driving and I'm kind of perplexed. And he looks at me and he said mom, World of Warcraft did something to me. I've been in bed for a week. I didn't finish my classes. I haven't been able to get out of bed. I haven't been to the eating place. You know, for the last month I and I'm like looking at him. Like I'm thinking, nursing training, nursing training. Yeah, my son's on drugs. Right? I immediately. And he said mom is not drugs. I am not Andhra. But he looked just like a drug addict. And he said, I'm not under No, no, no, no. He said it's World of Warcraft. I will never play that game. And it did something to me. You don't hear what I'm saying. So I had to finish driving home, we get home. And then it's kind of a the rest of the story is all about how I had to come just to grips with what had happened to him. And it happened under my roof right under our nose. And we're very educated people not that. It doesn't matter. It didn't matter. We just didn't know what was going to happen. And so he did not outgrow it. Needless to say, he's on my couch. Now. He's not going back to college. He has decided that he really didn't know what he was going to do. And he's on my couch I'll never forget. He couldn't like get up and get dressed. So you just wear this hoodie all the time in gamers by the way, when your kids are gaming. I remember one thing with with Adam, he would always have a little heater by his feet. Because when you're gaming you get cold because you're not moving your body. And the other thing he would have is like a bag of Skittles or Doritos or coke. It's always the junk food. Yeah, because their blood pressure I mean their blood sugar drops, because there's so much energy being spent it in their brains because they're working so hard that their blood sugar drops. So they're constantly eating crappy food. And they're cold all the time. And so he's all wrapped up in his hoodie and on the couch, and I'm telling my husband, you don't have three more kids at home there, this is not going to happen. There is no way this grown 18 year old man is going to be living on my sofa. So I did, what every smart mama does when they have a gamer living on their sofa. And I called the US military. And I got a recruiter over. And he came to the door and I said, Sir, my son loves to play Call of Duty, and you need to go recruit him into the US Army. And he said, Yes, ma'am. And he went and sat at my kitchen table. And he recruited Adam, into the army, and here, and I've seen pictures of Adam in the army. So this, you know, this is the thing when the I didn't know what I was doing, but it was the best thing. I mean, it was just the best thing that happened because Adam then went into a detox program, it was called basic

Collin Kartchner:

training. Pretty hard to gain 12 hours a day when your basic training Yes.

Melanie Hempe:

And little did I know, then that that was the absolute best thing that could have happened to him. And since then, of course, I've learned about all the detox center, you know, all the training, or the detox centers that are out there. Now, they're very expensive, the counseling places, I mean, $20,000, but we ended up you know, and convincing him and helping him in coaching him to make this decision to go into the army. And we were very involved with that decision. However, you know, he had to, he had to sign the contract. So he went into the military for five years, he served in Iraq. Well, we are so proud of him. And what happened was, he found himself, he figured out who he was off line, good. He he figured it out. And I'm not saying every kidney is going to military. But I'm telling you in our situation, in many situations, that is a fabulous solution. But we came around it a very, very difficult way, with a lot of pain along the way. And so Adam came back. He finished his undergrad just this year on the GI Bill, which was fabulous. Awesome. And And the coolest thing ever is that just this this week, actually, Adam started law school. So we we have a wonderful story. It didn't start off that way. But it ended up it ended up pretty good. So what happened when Adam went off to the military, I dove in and started researching this I traveled all over the country, I went to visit and meet every doctor who was talking about this from Victoria Dunkley to Leonard Sachs, all these people that I found, and one would lead to the other. And I started figuring out what was going on. And it was pretty simple. What was going on, he became addicted to a video game. And, you know, it's just very simple. But when you don't, when you don't know you don't know. And so I decided at our school, that we would put a little flyer and it was just literally a little piece of paper, it wasn't even an email, and we stuck it on the door, and the counselor, and I decided we're gonna have a meeting for parents to talk about video games. And if you were struggling in your home, and do you know that we had over 120 people show up, like, we didn't have enough chairs, like I'm like, what, like, we're not the only family struggling with this, but everybody's so scared about it, and they're embarrassed, and I wasn't embarrassed, I was like, Whoa, I totally screwed up. And this is what happened. And you don't want this to happen in your home. And so that's how ScreenStrong got started. Our name, first of all, was families managing media. And that's still our corporate name is families managing media. And I did workshop after workshop after workshop. And I taught parents about the brain development, about the issues surrounding human development and adolescent development and how screens interfere with all that development and the stage in their life when they're the most vulnerable that they will ever be. And so once parents understand some basic things about brain science, and even just the fact that, you know, our kids are not fully baked, the brain isn't until they're 25 years old, like the development is not there. So you can tell them all day long to do stuff. And it goes in this ear and out that ear because they're not connected, and it's not their fault, and they're not disobedient kids. They just aren't. They're just not there yet. They're not able to handle it. So I have a whole workshop and it's all about the brain development. And then we go take a deep dive into video games and what that does, and of course, social media came along. So deep dive into smartphones and social media and what that does, and then we have solutions and and our main goal was ScreenStrong is to equip parents so they will they will have the information necessary to weather the storm. Because if you don't have the information, your kid is going to run the whole show. You have to Just like a coach, you have to know what your game plan is. But but if you don't even know, the plays, and you don't even know like how football works, or baseball works, and you're trying to coach it, you got some education to do. And so we're trying to take all that science in and distill it down into the the big pieces that you need to understand. So you're able then to lead and guide and protect your kids the way they need to be protected. So that's how ScreenStrong got started. And we had been so busy during this quarantine. But anyway,

Collin Kartchner:

and it's gonna get busier because when you said the downfall was when he was handed a school issued laptop, a ninth grade, how many millions, millions of students some as young as like, kindergarten, first, second, third grade, just got issued from their school, a state school issued laptop or iPad for distance learning. And we're not going to talk at all about I mean, let's just say one sentence that there's a lot of great things kids can do to learn on the devices. We're not saying that they have to chuck them on the garbage can. There are some great things, but just, you know, and then you can learn. Of course, a lot of these learning these learning apps, especially especially for little kids aren't even that good for your kid creating so much dopamine, we, we can talk about this too, later. But there's a lot of parents right now who are freaking out. We've all seen the damage at the screens and video games. And I'm sure there's a lot of parents really, really connecting with your story. And I'm so grateful that you're so open and vulnerable sharing it. We need more people to just open up and say you know what we did? This happened to my boy, it's happening my boy had my kid and instead of hiding it under this, like a facade of we're all perfect parents look at my Facebook page. I'm amazing. Smile, right? The the filtered parenting lifestyle we'd like to promote to the world so they don't see you our insecurities and what we're feeling. We just need to just get up and say, You know what, let's fix this. And it's going to take people like you sharing that story. So So parents right now are freaking out. I've got a lot of parents messaging me saying, Oh, my gosh, I'm ready to do a detox. I thumbed through maybe glow kids, or I've saw what you're posting, I watched some of Mary's story. And now of course, hearing what you're saying is like really pumping them up. Like we got to do this. The library's just afraid, right? And you guys go into a ScreenStrong. And like, what what do you do right? Here are the steps. Now to the parents who are saying I'm just ready to rip the Xbox and throw in a pool or rip their iPad and throw in a pool and just destroy it. To the to the addicted video gamer boy or the social media girl why is that? Not a great idea? Just to take it cold turkey? Chuck it? Yeah.

Melanie Hempe:

Right, you have to do you have to use some common sense. And so if you're, if your kids are under 10 or so you can certainly take it away. And in I mean, I can tell you how to do that we have learned over the last eight or nine years like how this works, like we learn what works and what doesn't work. And just before I go on that, let me just say this really quick. There was something when Adam came home from the military after his five years. He literally was he was at Fort Bragg and he was driving home that day, he drives into the the driveway, and I had my car packed because I was getting ready to go do a workshop. And you know, I hadn't exactly told him what I was doing. Yeah. He kind of knew, but he was like, Can I come with you? I'm like, Sure. And he's on his army for teas. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, what am I gonna do, and I'm driving to his workshop, like, talk about his story all the time. And I had told him, but whatever. So that particular one, it was really great, because he got up and he did a q&a with me. And that was amazing to have him there. And then we came home that night. And he sat at the kitchen table. And he just said, Mom, you will never hurt my feelings. You tell every bit of the story that you can because I want as many kids out there to be saved from what I just said, you know, I have a terrible childhood. Yeah. He said it was awful. Oh, my Oh my gosh, thank you. You don't want to hear that from your kids. So the question is, what do you do? Adam would say you rip it out of there. He would say would you take heroin away from your kids? Would you take pot away from kids? I don't know. Would you take their fifth of liquor under their bed? I'm like, Yeah, you probably would. And so he has a he has a much stricter sort of approach to it. And I and I have to kind of agree with him. I've seen parents try to do this thing where well, we just let him play on the weekend. Yeah, just let him do this. And now we only do a melody only plays on Saturday. I'm like, I don't care. You are resetting his brain, you are calibrating his brain to only want to do this. It's it really needs to go away. And so for 10 years and younger, really the easiest thing with our we have a challenge. We have a ScreenStrong challenge. And you can either do it for seven days, or you can do it for 30 days. 30 days is best because you know, habit takes reset

Collin Kartchner:

sevens a lot easier to think about though. I think for a lot of parents, like you know, 30 a month oh my gosh, that sounds like crazy. But I don't see any parent who can say you know what? Kids, we're gonna do this as a family for a week and you guys in your program like really outline how to do it and what to expect, right? So, yeah,

Melanie Hempe:

so we have, first of all we do have a book called We are gamers survive college. And that's a really cool resource because it's a really short book. And you can actually sit down read this with your teenager. So this is designed to be super short, they can read it in a really short period. And this is Adams story about what happened to him and just gives you some talking points. So but we recommend that you change your attitude. First, the very first thing you have to do is change your attitude, you have to quit trying to be this perfect parent, you know, or this nice parent or whatever, you've got a really cool parent, yeah, you can't be a co parent, you got to be a coach. And so we all can remember our especially, you know, those of us who grew up in a time when we had coaches in high school, and we had sports and in when I in my audience is usually and I take a show of hands, and I asked people if they can remember their favorite coach. Oh, my gosh, everybody can remember. And then I have one of the dads stand up, and he'll talk about his favorite coach, and why did you like him? Well, you know what, he was so hard on me, you know, but he loved me, he had my back. But he pushed me, you know, more than anybody, you know, he saw potential in me. But boy, was he tough. He didn't let me get away with anything. And that's the attitude that you need to have. So right now, if you're thinking you can't do this, you just need to flush that. And you need to say, oh, no, no, no, I can do this. I have a team. And we're in a losing season, and my players are all losing, and I gotta go fix this. So you've got to get this attitude, you got to, you have to fix your attitude for us. Because your kids are going to talk you sideways, they're going to look at you with those big old brown or blue eyes, and you're gonna crumble. And especially moms, I mean, I'll just have to say, we have this blind spot, you know, dads have a blind spot, too. Don't get me wrong, every parent has a blind spot, that they think their kid is different. And you're out here listening to this right now. And you're thinking, Oh, Melanie, I'm so sorry that your your, your child did that. But my little boy is only eight years old. And I know that he would never did it. And they think that their kids are never going to end up there. Well, you know, I didn't think mine was going to end up there either. And we have a blind spot. And so you have to be willing to get some help around your blind spot. And you can do this just by getting around the right community. And we have a lot of moms that are involved while dads are involved with our organization. We have a Facebook group that you can get on and we'll help you with your blind spot. It's a ScreenStrong families Facebook group, it's a private group for parents to talk about all this awesome. And you got to just admit that it's okay. If this is okay, this is not your fault. But it's not his fault, either. It's our it's really our culture as well that we don't have better education on this. So that's really once you fix your attitude, and you realize it's not your kid's fault. You know, I mean, Adam was a video game addict. I raised him that way because I gave this stuff to him, I gave him the drug. And I expected him somehow to manage it which was I know now impossible for him to do. So if you're that parent, one of the first thing to do Victoria dunk Lee's book is really good reset your child's brain. We are gamers five college to get you in the right set, but the notes that we ended up putting together for the ScreenStrong solution is a very basic guide that walks you through in conjunction with Victoria's book it walks you through a real pathway it's like a map and we explain in very detailed terms you know what you what you need to do as far as getting some education and about the brain science and we provide that we talk about being a coach we talked about getting your village together getting your tribe together getting your team together, you've got to get some other parents even if it's just one other family it works so much better.

Collin Kartchner:

That was one of the one of the things Mary and Ryan mentioned they're in a very affluent community down in Gilbert Arizona which has a lot of families with a lot of large family a lot of kids neighborhoods where there's kids everywhere and all the kids she's like you know what the hardest part of this whole thing was was knowing that I was the only one yeah and and when I would men she said I think she said that she told you know some neighbors that they were going to do it and like not like laughed out loud at but just like oh good luck like why and almost like there was almost like a shaming going like why would you take your that away your kids the thing they love the most we've been we've been so caught off guard by how addictive this stuff is it hit so fast so hard that parents are so now finding themselves that like this is like the minority group of very small minority like parents who are doing it this way. And so she said that she had to stop telling people she had to stop because because it was hard it was hard it made her feel like you know what maybe I'm maybe I'm wrong but maybe this is you know, they fill with the excuses like what about your kids they can't play this is how they have fun and and they're gonna need it or they're gonna feel left out. But she did mention reset, resetting child's brain by Dr. Victoria Dunkley as like the book that she would go back to to learn how to do it. And it gave her as she said, I remember saying, like, I had to keep going back to these books I was reading, to like, reaffirm what I was doing to give me more strength to go through with it. But

Melanie Hempe:

well in this in the ScreenStrong solution, and this is on Amazon, we go through the steps and we give you the super practical stuff like we literally take you room to room in your house, like what you have to do good Yeah, to kind of remove it because you don't even realize all the iPads or tablets or all this stuff that's around. I mean, they'll game on anything, they're just like added, and they're gonna game on any device they can find because they're, and they'll have meltdowns, I mean, there will be in depending on how old they are, it will get easier, you know, or harder depending on their age, it's a direct correlation of their age and how long they've been gaming. I've had parents come through where their kids were putting them in chokeholds on their kitchen floor, I've seen that when they take the game away. These are 15 year old boys that are many times bigger than their moms. And there's violence involved. We, we recommend that of course you have to call 911 All this stuff. So I don't want you to freak out too much over that. But but one of the key things is to determine how old they are, how long they've been playing. And if you are fearful that if you take this away, are they going to hurt you? Obviously, you've got to take a different measure. But I would say that if you go to hire a counselor, be very careful, because there's a lot of counselors that don't understand. And they believe we had Adam and a little bit of counseling through all this all through high school. And when he would go in for counseling, guess what he did? They gave him a video game to play. She's like, What the heck, I'm coming here to

Collin Kartchner:

solve. Stop this problem. Yeah. And the

Melanie Hempe:

counselor said, Well, this is how we connect with kids. I'm like, Oh, my gosh, I am so in the wrong place. And so I even knew back then that that wasn't the right way to do it. But if they're younger, the challenge, whether you do it for seven days, or 30 days, I obviously recommend that 30 days. And you know, and I'll tell you why about that in a minute. But even if you can just do it for a week, sometimes if you just do it for a week, things get really stirred up and you're, you're making some real progress, and then you give it all back to them. That's why I don't like the idea of pulling the band aid off slowly, you just kind of say, you know, the best way to do this is to go out for the weekend on a family camping trip, get together in nature, and just tell your kids you know what mom and dad, we've been thinking about this, we've been reading about this, we know this is not good for you, you have that that locker room talk with them, we know this isn't good, we're losing our our championship here, we need to turn things around, and you're gonna get pushed back. But then when you you know, then when you come home, you just haven't gone already. But this is a key that parents many times don't understand. And Mary touched on it, it was brilliant when she said this, you have to replace all this time that they have been spending on their game, but not only do you have to replace the time, you have to start rewiring their brain. And you have to like you're you're taking sugar away. So now you have to come up like with a substitute for it. And that takes a lot of time. So my message to parents is, first of all, you know, we dug a hole for our kids, it is 100% our responsibility to get them out, in order to get them out, it's going to be much harder than it would have been if they never got in Amen. Right. So what that means is that you're gonna have to spend a lot of time not forever, but you're gonna have to have a concentrated amount of focus and attention on your kids like you have never had before. And you're gonna have to start rebuilding your relationship. Because what has happened, it's not even so much the silly video games, what has happened is they have lost their trust for you, and they have lost their attachment to you. And the minute that a child starts to prematurely lose their attachment to their family, which that shouldn't really never happen. But especially in the first 25 years, your kids should have a very healthy attachment to their family unit. But when that starts happening really early, it is so I don't want to say hard. It's so challenging to get it back in and I don't know if that came across exactly perfect, but I don't know how to say it any better. You are losing your kids. And then every minute that they're in that virtual world or getting one step further away from you, you no longer are the coach for them, their their whole gaming world, their Instagram world, their social. It's exactly the same thing with girls. We'll talk about that another show. Exactly the same thing happens with girls. They have just shifted all that over. So that's why when Adam was a junior moving out of the house was no big deal to him. He had already detached and what we're seeing now in what we know in science and what we know in medicine, is that whatever you don't get done in your childhood you spend the rest of your life Live trying to figure it out. It's true. And we we know that every addiction in adult like every addiction 90% of people who I won't say every, I'll say 90% statistic is 90% of all addictions and in adulthood started in the teenage years, and this is no different. And this is why. So your goal during this detox is to not be your kid's best friend. That's not what I'm saying, you're going to be their best coach, though. And you're going to smile, and your attitude isn't going to budge. You know the truth, you know, what has to happen, just like if you knew that they were allergic to certain peanut butter, you would not put that in your house anymore. And they might cry because they love that peanut butter, and you're not gonna have it because you know, what it's doing. And the

Collin Kartchner:

issue and the issue with that is the parents, so many of us as parents, the kids have been eating peanut butter jelly sandwiches forever, and they're allergic to it. And we finally realize or wake up to that fact. The hard part for a lot of parents is like, I don't know what else to cook this kid. Right? So let's talk about that for a second. I love I love it. So step one, change your attitude. And, and come together as a family. I love what Mary said, where she said, we got the boys together. I said, Listen, same as you said, we know we're losing this battle. And we know that it's not right for our family, and we want to be closer. But and we're gonna do this as a as a family thing. It's got to be a family thing. It's got to be a family. You can't say hey, you guys are gonna do this. And your your and your father and I are gonna be on our phones all day anyways, right? And but it's just for you guys, right? So get the whole family on board. come at it with the angle of hey, you know what we're gonna do this really cool experiment where we're all going to jump in this together. I think you get a lot more by if when you do it that way. Not not as guns blaring like oh my gosh, give me your phones, and we're never getting these back. That's gonna shoot my face. The other part I want to mention is that parents, you're gonna have a huge wake up call when you do this. And the big wake up call is going to be realizing again how addicted your kids were because like Mary said, and what will happen especially if your kids I padding a lot or video of me a lot on the phones a lot. When you see them start sobbing and punching walls are screaming, I had a mom tell me she's like, we sat down with my daughter and watched the saddest heartbreaking movie ever where this little girl gets cancer. And then she dies in her family. And it was like the most. And she's like, she didn't even bat an eye. And then that evening, I took away her phone because she was on too long. And she was sobbing. The only thing she cried about was the fact that took her phone away. And she's like, I actually that was the biggest wake up call. But the big wake up call is you're going to realize how disconnected these devices have made your entire family and and how hard it's going to be. But so worth it. And so get ready for it to sit down. Like Mary said, when she said Did I like she said you have to replace the device with your time. Parents are like, what do I give them instead? Is there like a thing I can throw at them as their? Do I just throw them in the backyard like with some fried chicken and maybe like a couple balls and say come back in two hours. parents a lot of us have forgot that being a parent takes a lot of work. And she said Did I like playing five hour monopoly games every day for a week? No, I didn't. So you've got to get stuff ready. You've got to get the board games, right, you've got to get the activities, right. I know in your ScreenStrong stuff that you guys have like list of like, here's some things you can do. Parents, a lot of I think a lot of parents are like, remind me how do I do this? Give me a bottle anymore,

Melanie Hempe:

and shame on us. And that's how it was I came home after all this was happening with Adam. And you know, the boys, the twins were in school by now. And I'm thinking oh my gosh, so I had to detox the twins, and learn all this as I went. And so we they are 16 years old now. So what I bring to this party is I know how to do this. I know how it works. I did it all wrong. Okay, I made more mistakes than anybody out there listening, I promise. And then I figured out how to do it right? Because I kind of got to read you with the brothers that came along. Yeah. And I told that I'm honey, you save your brothers, you just went to army, you saved a bunch of people, but you save your brother, because your brothers would have done the same thing because I didn't know, right. And so what we had to do is we had to do this whole detox thing with our own family. So and we've maintained it and what the cool thing is, it's like anything in life you pay now or you pay later. That's kind of the moral of this story. By the way, little gamers grow to be big gamers. You don't want your son to grow up and get married and just game while his wife is crying in the bedroom. This happens all

Collin Kartchner:

the time. I see so many how many messages I get from young moms who are in tears saying that I can't get him off his phone. I can't get them to come help with the kids. And then they're in divorce court. It's happening.

Melanie Hempe:

15% of all the divorces in this country right now are pegged to video games. And I think there's a lot that's gonna double in the next five years right now. And so what you have to realize is you are investing in your kids childhood and you are a coach, remember, you know that the only way to become a champion is to practice like a champion. Yeah, right. If you practice Video games, you're not gonna be a champion in anything, I promise you. So you have a better chance of being an NFL football player than using a computer screen anyway. So what you got to do is realize that every minute that you put into your kids right now is going to come back and pay off just so unbelievable tenfold. And then we're the reason why this, this works so well is I don't want your, your audience I don't want the audience to think, oh my gosh, I can't do this because I can't I just don't have that time. Well, you do have the time per month, you do have the time. Because what you don't have the time for is the rest of this kid's life when he's living on your couch. I know a 24 year old right now living in his parents home, he's on their couch all day, he plays me a game. That's all he does. And this happens over and over and over and over and over again. So put that little image in your brain, put it on your frigerator door, whatever it is keep that in front of you. And realize that any time that you put into this right now it's gonna pay off tenfold later hundredfold later. And so what it means though, just like Mary said, is that you have to dive in with the tools, whether it's the games, it's to me with boys always say just get them a ball, it doesn't matter. I remember with the twins, I got this big box of ping pong balls and paddles. And I would tell them, Okay, hit the ping pong ball 100 times and you get a you know, we'll go do something fun. Of course, it took them forever to do that. And they could hit those ping pong balls all over the house, and they couldn't hurt anything. And so the key is, is ATM if you can remember this ATM, attachment, touch and movement. This is what every kid needs. ATM. Remember that you go to the ATM, right. And ATMs are usually in outside. They're usually in nature. So remember those, those four things really. So attachment, do something every single day that you sit down whether it's dinner, and I mean, not just a hit and miss dinner, I mean a family dinner where you sit and talk, we you know you have some time afterward no screens and you're talking. So that's attachment. Whether kids or itty bitty babies or 18 year old kids, they need attachment time with you every day, the T is for touch, we do not touch our kids enough, they do not get enough rough and tumble play. I mean rough and tumble, you know wrestling on the dance floor. You remember those days, and then mama brings in the iPad, and all of a sudden all that wrestling stops and everybody's glued to the right. So they don't get enough rough and tumble play. They don't get enough movement. And movement is the M word. So I think that's something really easy for y'all remember ATM, ATM, that's your coach's plan for today. And so they gotta get a lot of movement. And you got to go outside and get those bikes ready. And those long boards or whatever you can do to get your kids out, they can any kid can do any sport, any kid can run, they can do push ups and sit ups, you get some competitions going into anyway, we have a lot of these ideas in our book, but you get the idea. But you have to do this, your kids are not going to do this right away. What will happen is after you reset them and get them back in the right lane, then their imaginative teenage or childhood and teenage brains start to take over. And then they're kind of on autopilot a little bit. You're still structuring, you're still driving the ship, they are not driving the ship, you're still doing it. But your job gets so much easier. My job right now in the last five or eight years, it has just been so fun. I wish you could just be in my house to see some of the stuff these kids do. It is so much more fun. We know our younger kids so much better than we knew Adam when he was growing up. Their childhood is so rich, they have so many things they like to do, they are never bored. They have never said they're bored. They play music instruments, they have piano, the guitar, they love to read, they have tons of friends, they have so many friends. It's so so incredible for me to see the difference in a kid who's raised in front of a screen versus a kid who really is in real life. And I could just go on about that. And the your main goal though, is to reconnect your family and and I'll just say really funny last week we were visiting my brother and Virginia and my boys they you know, they love to play guitar because they've kind of taught themselves all this stuff because once you give them a little bit like you know, then they can take off with it and they always knew how to play violin and piano. So they got a banjo. So they had been wanting a banjo. I mean for so long. I'm like okay, we're gonna get a banjo. So now we hear banjo music. So it's so fun. I can't even tell you it's like it's like the end of the rainbow like the pot of gold.

Collin Kartchner:

The kids? Yeah, the the. I've heard a lot of messages from parents that are now chiming in and we've given them permission to finally share Oh, me too. We've been screen free family. I just didn't think I could tell him how we can how fun is this? Say things say things you know because we've been two and a half year two almost two and three quarters years. Screen free we you know and when I say screen for you, we have a TV because Why We Love movie night and we love Dodger games. That's our big thing. But the thing is that the message I'm getting is the moms saying and the dads messaged me saying that Like you said, and I know this is so hard for a lot of parents to realize, like the thought of taking away an iPad, or taking away video games is like the only thing that kids love to do. They say it is so much easier. And I'll tell you my house too, it is it was so much easier to do this without the screens, the kids have so much more fun and there's so much more creative. That's one thing that you'll see is how muted their creativity, those those devices, it's like a dam is built in the part of their brain that says, hey, think and feel and create, take a box of just whatever and make it up spaceship. The devices are muting that ability from a lot of these kids. And it's gonna take a couple of days, you're gonna hear a lot of whining and like, what do we do? What am I supposed to do? What am I and you're gonna say a lot. You know, you do the family things, you have the monopoly game, you go on the walk, you go play, catch outside, you play tag, whatever it is. And you will be surprised how quickly the child had light flip a light switch switches back on, where were the the amazing things that we are as kids, which we all lose, sometimes we're adults, of being able to just see something and say, I'm going to turn that into a spaceship, or we're going to take this and turn it into a whole village or a game, you will be so amazed and then there will be a point so and I talked about the suit that the first couple days it can be hard. So get ready for it, have some stuff ready to go have a lot of fun things and a lot of activities, have the ATM ready to go. I mean, literally parents plan out what am I going to ATM today? How am I going to a How am I going to tea? How am I going am with each one of my kids, you'll notice that your kids are different. And if it's your boy, maybe he doesn't like to be hugged or be touched. But maybe he likes bedtime back scratches or whatever it is. So have those things ready to go. But your what you'll notice is after a couple of days, and it might be a week, you'll notice them stop asking because they'll realize how fun is to be human again. And that was what I love about Mary. She said you know we did 30 days. She said we took a few you know there was a lot of tears for the first week she said was hell. She said you would have thought as if I told them we are killing your dog. But she said after day 30. And by 30 days, they said you know what? Let's do another 30 And they don't ask for it ever again. And it's so fun because you're

Melanie Hempe:

going to get them a dog by the way. Yeah, that's another

Collin Kartchner:

great thing. If you're looking for something to give you something to do go get to go down to the rescue shelter and go give your kids some dog some kind of pet whatever it is, I don't care. Oh, we have some in some cousin in laws. My my wife's little sister they they took home the school Gecko and like the kids have been playing with that, that they took on the school Gecko in February and they still have it. They're like, we love it. It's just I'm gonna do Yeah, so

Melanie Hempe:

I want to make it clear that the younger your kids are the easier Yeah, it's still gonna be super hard, super, super duper, duper hard, they're gonna cry they're gonna do, but that's gonna be shorter than when they're older. And so when they're older, it gets really tough. And I'm telling you, that's why I don't want you to lose hope. Because there is hope and we can help you. But But I'm just saying if you got a 10 year old right now and you see you're down this path, you need to do a u turn right away. If your kids are 1313 is about that magic number because that's the puberty number. puberty, you know, age that hits now all of a sudden, they're all getting into pornography as well. Because with gaming, you're on a screen you get down these wormholes, with all this stuff going on. And everything kind of changes from all the violent visual imagery.

Collin Kartchner:

It gets to be I would love to see a Venn diagram of that have the kids struggle with gaming and pornography I bet it's just a big red circle. the

Melanie Hempe:

pornography industry is actually getting all their customer they are we I was I was on a TV doc document or a TV show just last year about how the porn industry is targeting gamers, they know exactly where their next customers are coming from. They're all sitting at home on their video games. And that's where they're targeting all their ads to gamers. And so that's a whole nother discussion that I think we should we should have. But for the parent right now who's just kind of deer in the headlight. I know that feeling it. It's a really bad feeling. But you have to know that you're not alone. And when Mary said she was on island that just broke my heart because I'm like, oh, no, no, no, you don't need to be on an island. There are so many people that they're doing this, I want to make it really clear, I'm gonna make it really super clear. Again, we are not talking about taking TVs out. I'm not talking about mom and dad taking their screens away. And to your point, yes, you do obviously have to get off your your own social media while you're playing Monopoly. That would be nice. You know, you don't want to be rude. However, you are the parent, you have different privileges and your kids. So I don't like the idea that we're all equal. Because we're not like your cut. You're the coach. The coach is not the player. You were there to guide and direct and provide leadership for that player. So so be careful with that. But know that if you have an older son, it will be very, very difficult. So you've got to evaluate anything over 1314 years old, it can get violent, depending on how long he's played. If you're in a two family home where he goes to dads, he goes to mom's back and forth. That's really frustrating. It's a whole nother circumstance. That's a whole nother thing but see if you're trying to get him off pain That's, you know, or anything in his diet, and then he goes to the other house, and that's all he eats, then you're gonna be right back to square one, when he comes back to your house, the only way, the only thing that really works is spending time with your kids. And you know, there are points in time when Adam was in high school, I did not like him. I just didn't like him. Because he cause like, he, I want to be careful. i It was my fault that you know, I love him and gave him the games because I That's all he wanted ever for Christmas. And so I did it, I'm guilty, but but I just didn't like him. And so there's times when you're around your older kids, that is just not easy. And it's almost you feel like it's not worth it, but I'm telling you even then it is worth it, your kid has to know that you're picking them. You know, it's kind of like in middle school, when you're getting paid for kickball, nobody wants to be the last person, you want your parents to love you that much, that they're gonna smile, and they're gonna say, Honey, I made the biggest mistake, we're gonna reverse it, we're gonna be spending time with you, I'm taking you fishing, we're getting a boat, we're getting rid your games, we're going to digs for getting some more sporting equipment, and I'm gonna be with you there all the way and they're gonna push back, and they're not going to believe you, and they're gonna call you names, and they're gonna do whatever as they get older, and Dad, you're going to be Oh, you're not going to let that get to you, you're going to be that coach who will let that bounce off of them. Because you know that that kid with that player learned how to do something the wrong way and you got to fix it, you've got to undo it. It's just like, if a little kid learns how to hold the bat the wrong way, when he gets into baseball, you're gonna have to undo that. And it's super hard. So you're gonna have to be the adult, and we're gonna have to quit treating our kids like adults, that's when we hurt them. We hurt them when we treat them like adults. And Leonard Sachs says that all the time in his material. So let me encourage you, you can do this. You are not alone. There. I mean, ScreenStrong is there and we have been there for eight years. We are there. We know what we're doing. You know what? I mean? We love our family. We have a lot of issues just like any family, but this thing we got this thing figured out. Yeah, and I can answer any of your, your worries about it. Any of your concerns, you will never lose. When you take these leisure entertainment screens out of your kid's life. And we're not talking about school screens, you're not talking about that. However, with the school stuff going on, you know, it's a whole nother thing. You've got to let them do their homework and then you shut that lid and you remove that that iPad or whatever it is. Yep, you gotta go hide it. You got it. Out of sight out of mind. You got to anything that's sitting around the kitchen table.

Collin Kartchner:

So so we're okay, yeah, so I'm okay with I mean, there's there's really not a whole lot option for a lot of parents right now with with the school stuff. So don't I would say right now for the detox don't even lump the school stuff into it. No, it's the leisure stuff. It's the fortnight The Tick tock, the Minecraft that kind of stuff.

Melanie Hempe:

So what it is, is this con, you got the violent adult content on one end of the spectrum that we know our kids don't need and most of that, honestly is a lot of that stuff in Instagram and social media channel that right so you anything violent adult, kind of on the other end of the spectrum, you have just stupid, silly waste of time. stupid cat videos, right? What we're talking about is the middle. The middle is the educational part. Now I have tons of material on why the educational screens don't work. They don't you know, they can add to something every now and then. But they don't work. But anyway, that's another story. It's the best we have right now. So that's the part that we're talking about. That's okay. family movie night is fine. Doing some you know, history homework, that's fine. That's not what we're talking about. We are not anti screen. I used to sell software. That was my second job after I finished at the hospital. So we're not against screens, but many times parents lump it all in the same thing. Oh, this group Oh, well, they're saying no screens or even with UConn sometime they Oh, I can't do that. Yes, you can. You can split it out. You can let them watch the documentary that they need to watch it but they don't need to play fortnight and when I mean, you know, you know you have to be 13 to play fortnight Did you know that? That the rating on that game is 13 Do you know that most players I think on fortnight are under 13 I mean come on. We're not we're not even holding our standards as high is you know the game companies and they're the ones making all the money on it.

Collin Kartchner:

We don't want the game companies to parent you don't want no don't want them to make the parenting decisions on itself.

Melanie Hempe:

And if your kid has a smartphone we say absolutely no smartphones we don't have they don't have smart with twins don't have smartphones. They haven't gap phone, you know talk text. That's it because your kid will game on their phone. Yeah. And most moms don't understand that. Oh, really? They can play stuff. Yeah, they can game on their smartphone. And you know, they can also do their social media on their laptop. So you've you've got to know the content. You've got to understand the time and the content. And you've got to be the coach and you got to be a strict coach and loving coach.

Collin Kartchner:

That's one thing I love that Mary ended with in her video. And she said this a couple times we talked on the phone too. I think she said on the podcast too, as she said, as parents like, wouldn't wouldn't you want to see the best version that your kid can be? And I've never ran into a parent yet who has said, you know, what, Colin, when we had our daughter, that smartphone, and we gave our kid that Xbox, he just started to flourish. And the attitude was so happy, and he loved us. And he did his chores and how I've never had the messages ever. And I'm talking like, I probably close to a million DMS over the last three years on Instagram of them saying, You know what, I gotta step in here and say Kong, you know, my daughter's the minority here. But like, I gave that fun, like, she started smiling and she was happy. And she wanted, she was loving me. That's the, that's the, that's what parents understand. You think by giving your kid a smartphone, give me your kid, the you know, the Tick Tock account they want and the things they're begging you for the tech is going to make is going to make them love you more, you think it's gonna make them, you know, appreciate you more, that will last for 25 seconds. And then everything's gonna go down the toilet, and so mad at you, you're gonna be mad, it's gonna cause all the fights, I mean, and it doesn't matter who you are. I mean, I remember reading an article from it was like a Vogue about Madonna. And she said, when she gave her daughter a smart social media at 13, she said, that's when I lost my daughter, it does not matter where you're at. And like you said, You guys are in a really good, you know, good Christian home and you both your parents, you know, you and husband educated and thinking this would never happen to my kids. And it can and it will. So let's all do this together. I'm so grateful. So for parents who want to get into the emails that you send out daily to help you know what to do and how to do it, and how to, you know, support groups. Yeah, good.

Melanie Hempe:

How do they get that, go to screenstrong.com. And just sign up and you'll get you we do our news is only you know, about once a month on that, but then we have a lot of information up there, you definitely want to get in the Facebook group, that's going to be where you get a lot of answers from

Collin Kartchner:

the Facebook group is called what it was called screen to ScreenStrong Is that was or brainstorm families string ScreenStrong family. So there is your your your, your your focus group, your group, you know, the the come together, and let's cry it out together.

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah, and we just started that a few months ago. So it's, it's still kind of small, but it's really growing and what we know, as parents, we know that when we're having some gut feeling about something in our house, that the best way to figure out what to do is usually go to other parents who have already done it, yes. And that's what we bring to the table with us. And I bring years and years of experience around this. And plus, there's a lot of other families. So go to screenstrong.com, then go to the Facebook page, and that we do post every day on Facebook. And then we have the ScreenStrong families group, and on screenstrong.com. And as well as through the Facebook, you can join the challenge. And so what I really highly recommend is go ahead and just just just pick that high dive and do the challenge. Now you know what if you don't end up finishing it, that's okay, you can do it again. Yep. But you'll get emails every day for seven days, we're going to show you how to actually do what you need to do with this. So you have some kind of template, because everybody's talking about this problem. And like not that many people are talking about what to do. And so that's what we have. And then on the book that I have the ScreenStrong solution, but this is super easy to read. You can you can read this very easily in one sitting in the carpool line. That's why I wrote it. Because I spend a lot of time in the carpool line for sure. And so um, ScreenStrong solution, we have this in ebook format, we have it in on Amazon, I would get the hardcopy I mean go ahead and get the ebook but get the hardcopy so you can carry it around and then you want to go recruit somebody yes, that's one of the first things you needed in in get your little village together because it does take a tribe it's so much easier when you have a few other families and I have a lot more details on why that works that way but just trust me go see if you can find just one other family that want to take you know a detox and it's not getting rid of your your your TVs, although I will say one thing about the TV you have to be careful because everybody has a smart TV. Yeah, so that's a whole nother layer of stuff you got to think about. But anyway, that's that's another program I guess

Collin Kartchner:

we got so many other programs we could do you know sorry. This is amazing. I'm just glad to have you on to show parents that there's there's a way out there there's tools out there that they can use. We did when we went when we did this two and a half to three quarter years ago. We just cold turkey that now we were kind of we were pretty low tech as it was. But the kids had iPads and we had Kindles and we had you know there's some video game consoles and stuff like that and they complained about it but our kids it was only like half a day and after that they're outside playing my wife's very very good at like you know doing arts and crafts with them and spending time with them.

Melanie Hempe:

But I'm not sure if we can be friends because of it only half a day I'm

Collin Kartchner:

not sure but there are yeah there are fine younger but let me tell you when we were younger let me tell you right now though and parents are always like there's no way that's possible. My oldest just started ninth grade two days ago. And we have a gap phone and I'm like do you want to take the gap phone for those are no gap and if you let me know what it is but if you don't have a gap phone for your kids get a gap phone because it just called tax and it looks like a smartphone And I'm like, do you want to take the gap phone with you to school, you know, so you can call or text us or whatever? And she's like, No, she's like, No, I don't really care. That when if you can get them past the sixth, seventh eighth grade, where the phone doesn't become their identity, and that's what's happening to kids, when you give them a phone, right, then when they don't know who they are at all at that age, and then the phone absorbed, they absorb it, they obsess with it, they become so addicted to what they're seeing on there, they start changing everything about them, they're trying new things. And now, they're questioning everything. If you can just get them through those really, really tough stages, where they're emotionally the most, you know, unstable they've ever been, it's not going to be as hard when they're older to say, you know, to either take it away, or they're not going to care as much. And it blows my mind because my daughter, she's got a lot of friends that all have phones. And you know, I talked to them, and we drive around and like, you know, they're doing Snapchat. So what's really fun, I actually told all my friends who have Snapchat, I said, if any of you can go Snapchat free for the school year, I'll give you 100 bucks cash within the school year. And one of our friends said, I don't have Snapchat, but I think I'll download it, and then I'll just delete it, and then you give me the money. So

Melanie Hempe:

you're hitting a really good point. And what I want to say is about the ScreenStrong challenges that we do in schools, we just did one right before all this happened. And there were 40 kids in 11th and 12th grade, actually, who did the challenge as a group in the school. So if you're a teacher out there, if you're a school administrator out there, this is a practical hands on thing that you can do. We have the instructions for you. It gets I mean, we have very detailed instructions on how this works. In the kids in the school thing, they took the seven days off, and then they wrote essays. And let me tell you 40 essays that we got back on, on what happened to these kids was enough to make you cry, you won't even believed some of the stuff they said. And the thing that made it really fun for them to do. And it was really tear jerking. I mean, some of the essays were like, Oh, my gosh, I really liked my dad, I didn't even know I like my dad, I hadn't really ever talked to my dad. But now that I don't have my phone, I'm talking to my dad, I'm like, oh, you know, you just want to cry. But the thing that made it so cool was they did it together, there were 40 of them that did it together. So can you imagine what this could do across the country, if school groups and classes in whole classes would take this on as a challenge to do and even if they go back on it, you know later, which of course I wouldn't want them to do because it's kind of like you step into nirvana. It's like the greatest thing ever. Like, my kids don't want to take their phone, they have the gift. They don't want to go to school, they don't want me calling them and I don't blame them, I wouldn't want my mom calling me. But anyway, think about this, if you're a teacher, if you know a teacher, if you're a school administrator, if you're a principal, if you're any person, school nurse, this is an awesome thing to do. And it's thankfully, you know, not political, it's not religious, it's not any of these things that get us in trouble. This is just hey, let's take a detox from our devices for a week and then write about it. And then they got extra credit, if they did certain types of essays. It was a brilliant, it's a brilliant thing to do.

Collin Kartchner:

One thing just to add to that before we close up, when I go out and speak at schools, I don't challenge them to just check all the you know, phones for a week because I don't want to get my car egged on the way out. But I do challenge them to go through and take a break from their social media especially especially the girls and and for everyone there. And I think one of the benefits that we haven't touched on yet of Doing a Detox especially from social media, especially for your teenage girls, like tell you and your friends you're going to take a week off Snapchat, Instagram and whatever for just a week. What I found happened after a lot of people messaged me back is they said when they just took a week off this stuff. They felt they said it. They they took a week off. They said they felt like they've just broke up with this toxic girlfriend or boyfriend. They're like I mean, people literally said that they said I felt like my phone was like the most abusive toxic boyfriend I've ever had in my life. Going away. Breaking up for a week was like thrilling. I felt free for the first time. But what they said was this, they said when I went back after a week break, I instantly deleted like four apps, I instantly unfollowed all like 1000 accounts on Instagram. And now when I go to my phone, it's not the toxic boyfriend anymore. It's just the thing. It's a tool. My Instagram inspires me. I don't have snapchat that was bringing me down. I lost all my streaks which I was the best thing ever because I was I'd have no idea why I was even wasting time doing those. And then they can go back to so that's what Mary's Center thinks. She said, You know, after a month we went back we went back to the TV at least I mean, they went for hardcore, no screens. But the kids, they go back after a week especially and they and they can go back to the technology that they had. If they do want to go back on it and do it in a better way. Their eyes have been open to the negative things that it was causing them. I tell girls, especially all the time I say listen, if you can break up with Instagram or Snapchat for a week, you can go back and realize that that was just that abusive boyfriend who would smack you all day but then on Rite Aid give you a rose and say I love you. And so you're like, oh, he does love me, I'll never leave. It's not till you break up and give yourself a whole week break up. Before you can say wait a second, I was in the worst relationship of my life. And that's what's happening is the worst relationships of their life. And it's with a device that we're paying $40 a month for. And and so here's the way we can do it. So I'm so grateful you came on, go check out screenstrong.com There's a book. There's other books out there on there as well. I know you're friends with Dr. Victoria Dunkley, who wrote reset your child's brain, which, with ScreenStrong and glochids, I think is like a perfect trifecta. glochids exposes the problem screenshot shows you how to you know how to do it in a simple way. Reset is like a 12 step program of how to

Melanie Hempe:

have the it's a thicker book, it's just more of that. And I would say to your analogy, what you're saying about breaking up your phone, I would say that is probably true. With a phone I would say that is not true with a video game. And that's just a different animal. A different animal is like that bad boyfriend that is break

Collin Kartchner:

up and never come back. Exactly. That's gonna go back to that. Yeah, you go back to your ex boxer, maybe playing like some Mario Kart, but the games that were the very toxic ones that were still in your life that are still going to trigger that these kids have been guinea pigs. We've all been made guinea pigs on this. You know, I keep going back to look at the people who invented this tech Steve Jobs. No, iPads are his kids. Bill Gates didn't have technologists house they are the people who create the drugs don't get high on your own supply. This is not conspiracy theory. This is not Q anon COVID, and chemtrails, stuff, this is legit science. And we're all here on the other side of the fence saying like, please, like, Come and join us. The grass is not just greener, but it's happier. And the kids are happier. We don't need to hand these kids this stuff. And we're all gonna look back at this and say, remember that time when we all gave our kids smartphones like what? How stupid were we remember, we didn't have seatbelts for kids. Remember, when kids could sit in the back of the truck without a seatbelt? Or helmets? Like let's not be that generation. And our kids are

Melanie Hempe:

not gonna look back and say, Gee, Mom, thanks for that. fortnight more. They're not they don't have any stories anymore. That erases their whole childhood thing to talk about. And they're kind of boring. And I anyway,

Collin Kartchner:

and what are they going to do? Let me let me end with with a thing I read, obviously, ironically, on Twitter, the head writer of one of my favorite late 90s have a late night late night talk show is really funny guy. Someone put on Twitter, they just said, Hey, comment, your most controversial thought about something that's very, very pop culture. And I don't remember exactly how he said it. But he said something that he said, video games are going to destroy humanity. Because they teach people something. He said something like, because they robbed people of being able to handle life and real life. Yeah. And it's, and it's causing people who gain too much to lose the ability to manage the entropic nature of life. Life is chaos, life is crazy. And they have to go and we have to accomplish things, we have to grow, we have to adult we have to go out and win battles in the real world. And when our boys especially are addicted to winning battles on a screen, where there are heroes on the game where they can crush life on a screen, where they're beating bad guys and moving objects through space and time and and they are collaborating. I mean, I had a guy 18 older my podcast who said he was gaming all through high school, and he said I felt a real sense of responsibility to my clan. He said I if I did not play, yeah, I felt like I was letting down an entire group of people. And I kept going. That's all that's and that's how the gaming companies do it. They've tweaked the games. This isn't like Mario Kart, and Kong and Tetris where you could just play and then stop playing Go home. They've made it a village gaming is for boys, as so much of it is social media now because they're playing with friends or people on a headset. And so get ahead of the curve. That's all we're saying. I'm so grateful for Melanie and for your passion. I know you like me, you're out there. You're on the East Coast shouting from the east to the west. I'm from the west, to the east, like hopefully more people hear this message. Go to screenstrong.com. Go get her information there, get the book and join the Facebook group that we want to just make this big, huge community ScreenStrong families on Facebook, where you can come and share and ask for help you can cry if you need to. And we're going to make this movement so loud that it's not just oh look at these couple of weirdos talking about it on Instagram or whatever. Like we want this to be something where it's all over the place and let's re while the child we were stealing childhoods, and if like you said, if a kid doesn't get their childhood, when they're a kid, they are going to chase it. They're going to chase those childhood things into the 30s and 40s. And it's going to destroy families. It's going to destroy marriages. You think the rate of anxiety and depression for young people right now is high. Just wait if we don't get to handle this.

Melanie Hempe:

Yes, we do need to get a handle on this and I'm so glad that you joined us today and I'm so glad that you are getting a handle on it. If you need more help, please contact us at team@screenstrong.com We have so many resources for you and your family. Like, as I mentioned earlier, I promised myself that I would never forget the pain and the loneliness that many families experience over this issue. It is a very isolating issue for not only the gamer, but also for the family and ScreenStrong is committed to provide the education and support that you will need through this journey to save your kids, we have a lot of resources. ScreenStrong has a kids brains and screens course. And this has a lot of information that I wish I had known earlier, I don't think we would have gotten into so much trouble if I had seen this course. So I put everything that I felt like was important for families to understand in this course. So please look at that on our website. Also, we have a physician led live group coaching coming this fall. This is one of the most exciting things that we've done as an organization. So stay tuned for that if you have specific questions for physicians. And the third thing is we do have a very robust community for you. You will find support from other parents, just like you who are searching for answers to this dilemma that we're all facing. This community is found in our social media, but we are also transferring a good bit of this community activity over to our website. So stay tuned for how this is going to work. We're so excited for these changes. So what is your homework today, to share this podcast with a friend it may just save another teenager out there and just get the word out about your own story. In fact, if you have a story to share, please contact us and we would love to bring you on the show and share your stories so we can help that many more families. Remember, we've got your back and we are here to help you. So until next time, stand up for your kids. Stand out from the crowd and stay strong.