ScreenStrong Families

A Psychiatrist's Solution to Managing Screen Rules with Friends with Dr. Adriana Stacey (#110)

July 13, 2022 Dr. Adriana Stacey
ScreenStrong Families
A Psychiatrist's Solution to Managing Screen Rules with Friends with Dr. Adriana Stacey (#110)
Show Notes Transcript

Melanie is joined once again by Dr. Adriana Stacey to discuss the dangerous combination of smartphones and sleepovers, and how to navigate childhood activities while still living the ScreenStrong Lifestyle. 


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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 hempy. And I am once again, so glad you're here today to join us. Hope you're having a great day this summer. And we just want to welcome everyone if you are new, we're especially glad that you have found us. And if you're an old friend, welcome back. I keep getting so many emails from all of my listeners, all of our friends out there who have been listening since the beginning, which is so cool, because we hit 100 episodes do weeks ago. So I just feel like you guys really are my friend. So thank you so much for being so loyal. So guess what? We have Dr. Stacy, back with us today. Hi, Dr. Stacy.

Dr. Stacey:

Hey there. How are you, Melanie?

Melanie Hempe:

Good. We're so glad that you're able to join us, we are going to tackle a very big question that we get a lot I know you get a lot of people asking you this question, I get this question a lot. And it's been popping up in our group a lot. But before we dive in, I just have to share something. So when you are a screen, strong family, your kids tend to develop really strong relationships and friendships with other kids who are ScreenStrong. I want you to think about that. Because right now if you're sort of new to the ScreenStrong idea and the ScreenStrong lifestyle, you're in a phase, or I guess a stage where you can't imagine the day that your kids will just have a bunch of friends that are ScreenStrong Because right now you may not have any friends that are ScreenStrong. But I just want to give you a little glimpse into the future and a little hope. There's just this weird myth out there that says that your kids will be weird and hate you the rest of your life. But it's so not true. When you take away their video games and or just don't do on like we did we you know, our a game free home. So we don't have video games, we have screens in our house just to be clear, we watch movies, and they have their laptop for school. And we use it to look up a YouTube video on how to make a certain cake every now and then or how to fix the lawnmower. But we just don't have screens as our number one go to entertainment activity in our house. And I just want to tell you what happened last week, I got a call from one of my friends who is a very good friend of our families, they have four boys. And when they lived here, we were very good friends with them. And they are ScreenStrong just like us. So what happened was they moved in, it got really sad because the boys were pretty close to their boys. And you know how hard that is. I know a lot of y'all out there, let your kids get on their iPads and FaceTime their friends that have moved away, or maybe you have moved away and you miss all that. And we're going to talk about that here in a minute. But I just want to tell you what happened. About a week ago, like I said, this mom called me and she said that her son wanted to drive six hours to come see the boys this week. And we were so excited because he's old enough to drive six hours is the longest time or trip you know that he's taken. So we were all a little nervous. But he left it nine o'clock in the morning on on a Monday. And then he got in the car and started driving. And he got here and I just want to explain some of the things that they've been doing. I just first want to say how cool it is to have your friend drive six hours to come see you. I mean, think about that. That's really cool. So I'll get back to that in a second. But let me tell you some of the things that they've been doing, because we don't force have video games and this other child is not used to playing video games. And this isn't his go to thing either. So they they have been playing frisbee golf, they've been playing a lot of basketball. They're actually going to a concert tonight with a group of 16 kids. So that means they've been making calls all last week in this week, planning for this event. It's such good organization skills and life skills and all that stuff, you know, executive function skills. They went out to dinner last night with some friends. They've been playing board games. They went out to actual movie theater a few nights ago. Yesterday, they went to Goodwill, they found a t shirt with the logo for this big soccer game that they are going to. I mean, we have just had so much fun. We also have a way to watch movies outside like if it gets you know, in the summer. It's really fun to hang out outside a bunch. So we have this big sheet that we put up and we have this very inexpensive projector so Oh, we're never going to run out of AI Diaz, they are so busy, and they are making so many fond memories together. And I just want to encourage you, like I said, to give you a glimpse into what happens when you build this type of lifestyle. And when you start investing in your friends and teach your kids how to invest in their friends, early on, this investment really, really pays off, my kids feel very loved. They know the effort it took for their friend to make this trip, it was a big deal. And I want you to think about that. I want you to think Do your kids have friends? Who would drive six hours to see them? Do you have friends? I mean, I think about it, I'm like, I don't think I have too many friends that would drive six hours. I mean, it's such a endearing thing. And when you are raising gamers, and I know this because I did this, I was really good at raising a gamer, which is why I'm not doing that anymore. But I don't think that my oldest son has friends that would drive six hours to see him because you know, at the time, his friends were all all those friendships were built on a video game, and you don't have to do anything. Right. No effort you just log in. So Dr. Tasty? What do you think about that? Just real quick, before we get to our big question just about the gift of friendships, I guess ScreenStrong Friends, I mean, it's such a different friendship, the friendship is defined so differently.

Dr. Stacey:

Well, I would definitely agree with that. I think that part of what has started to happen over the last, I don't know, decade or so as kids and adults also have become more dependent on or I don't know if that's the right word, but using smartphones more for communication is that we've seen friendships become a lot more superficial. And a lot of that is kids, you know, they'll have these friendships and do most of their communicating through Snapchat, or whatever the apps are. And when they don't agree with someone, or they have some sort of negative interaction, they just move on to the next name on the list. And so the friendships are just a lot more superficial. Whereas if we can get back to that more in person interactions and face to face building of friendships, then we have a lot deeper and more meaningful friendships. And we're seeing that with kids. We're seeing this with teenagers, we're seeing this with adults. And so I think that's amazing. Like you said, I think it's hard to find a friend that would put in that much effort to see you because they think well, we'll just get on FaceTime or snap back and forth or whatever, instead of trying to see each other in person.

Melanie Hempe:

And even when they're local. I feel like kids are defaulting to that because the app friends that you're discussing, app, friends versus real friends, right. And I really mean that I don't mean to be ugly. But it is, there's a big difference between a friend that you just, you know, visit with on an app versus a friend that you actually make the effort to get on your bike or get in your car to the walk or whatever it is to get to them. And it really makes kids feel a very strong sense of belonging. And that, as we know, is one of our greatest human needs is this need for belonging. And I think the app friends will have to coined that term. The app friends are like you said, it's more superficial. And that need I don't think is really getting met. And I'm just watching this unfold even this week. It's very different. And we're you know, we're talking today about going to people's houses, right? And maybe they don't agree with you on your screen rules. And so it's very hard to do that. But it's very different when you actually have people staying with you in your house. And it is so fabulous that I don't have to worry with this with this guy. He's 18. He is 18 years old and their friend, but he still has, you know, he has a gap phone. He doesn't even have, you know, he doesn't have a smartphone. And it's so fascinating for me to watch. Even around town here. He's going to visit a friend or two or meet someone for dinner. And he'll ask me if he can borrow my computer and he will look at the Google Maps and he's like, okay, yeah, I know where I'm going. Anyways, it's so fun to watch, because that's what we do. They're just really having a great time. And we're gonna dive into this big question about what do you do like, if this kid wanted to come over to our house for a week, and if he was going to be playing video games all week, of course, that wouldn't work. I wouldn't allow him to do that. This works because this is another ScreenStrong family. And this also works because we've known them since middle school. So it's just a cool village or tribe that we've created. And another thing like I said that I was so hit with this week is that this is Something that just started in middle school in it phased out. This is a relationship that will last a lifetime, these kids are going to know each other. And they are making the effort now, which isn't it fabulous when you see that your kids start, actually adulting, you know, and they're actually making the effort socially to do this. It's just so fun to watch. It's very, it's very exciting because I and I want everyone out there not to get discouraged over this, I want you to be really encouraged that it, it does happen. It does take some time. And it's an investment every minute that they invest in this friendship, though, is something that's going to last, whereas I think every minute that you invest in these app friendships, I don't think those minutes translate the same way. I don't think people I don't think kids sit around and in five years Oh, remember that time we played fortnight together? Wasn't that really fun? You know, I don't think so. I don't think they're going to do that. I think they're going to remember that time they went to Goodwill and found those T shirts that were the logo of the soccer team that they were getting ready to go see, I think they're going to remember that more. So Dr. Stacy, what do what do we do with this question? The question is, you know, can ScreenStrong families allow their kids to go to other people's homes that are not ScreenStrong? This is a dilemma. It's summer.

Dr. Stacey:

Right? And this is a common question that I hear all the time. And it's a it's a thing that my husband and I talk about often because, you know, like I said, we have four children, and they have a lot of friends. And, of course, we know all their friends, parents and families and the majority of like, like the US majority of their friends, you know, allow video games and allow smartphones to some degree. I mean, maybe not all the social media apps and all of the things but you know, of course, as is the mainstream these days, most homes are allowing that. So it's a it's a question. And it's a dilemma for a lot of parents because they feel like well, I can take all those things away in my home. But then when my kids go to the neighbor's house, or go have a sleepover, or whatever it is, they're going to have access to those things there anyway. So I don't know if we want to talk first about other kids coming to our house. Or if we want to talk first about our kids going to other people's houses.

Melanie Hempe:

Let's start with talking about when your child gets invited to go on a sleepover, for example, I want to tackle sleepover topic, that's a big, big one. And then even when it's just for, you know, a birthday party in the middle of the day, or they just get called Hey, can Andrew come play today? What do you do? What is the first thing that you do when you have the mom on the phone?

Dr. Stacey:

Well, I think the most important thing is to feel comfortable talking to the other parents. So you know, that's one thing that over time, we've sort of gotten away from everyone's busy, you know, but we have to cultivate these relationships with these children's parents as well. I think we all need to be comfortable talking to the other parents about what your child is going to be doing at their house and not feel like you're overstepping by talking to them about that. So, you know, we have had this situation, even in our own home where one of our children would really want to go to another child's home because they would play video games over there. And, you know, we don't do that at our house. And so we wanted to go over there and play. Sure. So I just talked to the parents and said, You know, I know that you guys play video games, and that's a decision in your home, our kids aren't allowed to play video games, I really want my children to still cultivate their friendship with your children. So I would love it if when my children are at your house, you would encourage them to do other things. And I think the parents were appreciative of that conversation. And I think and they did have some questions about why we don't allow video games and our thoughts about that. And that gave me an opportunity to explain to them why I don't want my children on video games. So now they know that when my kids go over there, that's time to play outside or that it's time to be creative or do other things. And it's really funny because when the kids come home from from playing at that particular house, they're really sure to tell me all the things they did over there, which is really cute. So they'll say you know, we got a neighborhood wiffle ball game together, or we played capture the flag or you know, all the things that they did.

Melanie Hempe:

It's so fun because what it does when you take that off the table, you know, when the screens are off the table, they fill it with the coolest stuff. I mean, even now with my boys being older, they're still coming up with all this great creative stuff to do. It's it's so fun to watch that happen. I think it really hinders and stunts their social development when the games they're just like it stuns us it stuns adults to you know, we are not as creative because we're just picking up our phone picking up our phone.

Dr. Stacey:

I don't know if I told you this story, Melanie on a previous podcast. So forgive me if I'm repeating myself. But I had a little patient who is an adolescent age lowboy and real sweet kid. And he was real into games on his iPad. So not necessarily video games, like on a video game device, but just all these little games on his iPad, and he got grounded from it for a couple of weeks and wasn't able to use it and discovered that he is an amazing artist, never, never cultivated that never knew. I mean, he did great art class in school and all of those things, but just never know, to the extent that he has this talent. And his parents are saying we, you know, they felt really guilty, because they've been letting him use his time on this device, instead of creating, but now that he knows it's really changed a lot for him, and he has some mental health struggles, and the art, the creativity has really helped him. And so I think that's something to remind ourselves of, especially when our kids go to play with other children. Think about all the talents that these children are bringing together, and the things that they can do and the ways that they can interact that aren't through through a screen. And so I think it's just really important to talk to the other parents. And you know, I mean, you can't predict how another parents going to react, but the majority of parents aren't going to say, well, then we don't want your kid over. If they can't play video games, I mean, I think they're going to appreciate that your child's going to encourage their child to do something different.

Melanie Hempe:

Well, and we have in our course, in our ScreenStrong, good kids brains and screens course and all that the solution part of it, we talk about how parents are usually fine with it, they want to ask you questions. Oh, really? Why? Why do you not allow, while this, you know, they're just kind of in the dark. I mean, if they like like me, and I can speak to this really clearly, because I certainly was in the dark with my oldest son. And he went around to people's houses, and they just play more video games. And remember, we had sleep over here one time, and his two friends came walking down our back steps. And they were literally carrying their computers. And this was back in the day when you know what they had the big consoles, like not the consoles, but the big desktops or whatever. They were bringing this down in my basement to have a sleepover. And you know, it just it was the weirdest thing. I thought, This isn't what boys are supposed to be doing. This is so weird, but I didn't know and there are a lot of y'all listen out there. That is the first time you're hearing this message. And I'm just telling you, that's not normal. But what is normal. And what we have kind of gotten away from is what you touched on just a minute ago about being free to actually talk to the other parent. We have lost our relationships in our parent communities. You know, it used to be when we had, I don't want to say playdates even though they were playdates, if you have big kids, there, we don't call them playdates anymore. But when you have kids over at your house, or when you did have playdates with your younger kids or sleepovers, especially, there was a lot of communication with parents. But now since kids have shifted a lot of their entertainment and their social time online, we don't have that communication anymore. And we pointed that out on a previous podcast as well. But that fact of not having that relationship with your kids, friends, parents, is hurting our kids, it's hurting our relationship. It's hurting our parenting with them. And so what you're saying is so critical that you ask the parents and not be afraid to ask the parents in the way I do it. I do in a kind of a whimsical way. I try not to make people feel bad. But I say, you know, yes, Andrew can come over. And this is even when he was in middle school, I would say yes, he can come over, but he's allergic to video games and pornography. So they would kind of stop and kind of chuckle and I'm like, oh, no, no, no, he really is like, he can't play video games. Because our oldest son you know, dropped out of college because of his gaming addiction. So we really are very serious about this. And I would say can you help me think of some things that maybe they could do at your house or if they want to come over here instead, a lot of times I would offer to bring a certain you know, sporting thing Oh, street hockey said I would offer something and so I think that's a good rule of thumb when your kids are going to play at somebody's house. If you get the feeling that all they're going to do right is go in and play fortnight. They maybe can say hey, why don't we bring this over or Try this game, you know what I mean?

Dr. Stacey:

That's one of my favorite suggestions to give people is and I think we saw this on our screen strong families group this week somebody was asking a question about, you know, we're pretty socially isolated. And you know, nobody wants to come over to play with my kid because we don't allow video games. And what do I do. And one of my favorite things to say to families is invite someone over to do something specific. Or if you go to someone's house bring ideas in. I mean, there's all sorts of things that kids can do that are fun and interesting that don't require screens. You know, I mean, there's of course, card games and board games and things like that, but also coming up with something fun and interesting. Like, if you're going to someone's house that has dogs do a dog fashion show, or go to the store and buy a bunch of different types of soda and have a blindfolded soda taste test. Or, I mean, there's all different kinds of things that you can come up with. And so I think empowering your child to go to a play date or sleepover with ideas, you know, like we did million years ago, when I was a child, you know, it's like, we would go to someone's house with an idea of what we were going to do that we're going to talk to your kid about, for sure. And I think it's great to ask the parents before your child goes over there, what's your policy on screens? And do you have rules? Do you have parameters or screens in the kids rooms? Like, when it gets to a certain time? Do you take kids phones away? Do you make them put them in a basket? You have no rules at all? I mean, you know, just ask those sort of questions. And I also think it's okay to say to the parent, you know, thank you for letting me know, but that just doesn't meet what our family does. And so I think we're gonna have to maybe have your kid come to our house instead.

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah. And you don't want to you don't want to hurt their feelings, right? So

Dr. Stacey:

Right. And there's a way to say that without being, you know, rude or judgmental is the word people like to use, you know, but it would be like with anything else, I mean, if you had a specific rule, or you know, requirement that your family, you know, like wearing seatbelts in the car, or in certain religious groups, people don't eat meat on certain days of the week, or, I mean, whatever it is, you can pick a million rules, you would explain those rules to that family as well. You know, we had a kid come to our house one time whose family doesn't eat meat, they're vegetarian. And so the mom said, Please don't offer her any meat. And I said, of course, you know, I mean, we're all partners in this crazy game and of life. So

Melanie Hempe:

that's a great idea. I think that's to just make it like that. Like, if your kid is allergic to peanuts, you're not going to let them go eat peanuts at somebody else's house, either to you know, it's that same thing and don't apologize, you know, for it, right? So you just want to be kind of confident and, and say, Oh, well, what about if they did this instead? And usually, I find that parents are, I've never had a parent say, Oh, you're making me feel terrible. I've never had that because it is all in the way that you deliver it. But I will, let's jump in and talk right here about sleepovers a minute because I will tell you that our policy on sleepovers changed dramatically after we went through the gaming problem with my oldest son. And as we started with my daughter in sixth grade, and it was a really bad experience at a sixth grade sleepover. And she will never forget it, I will never forget it. I will say I feel like it's it changed her, you know, forever. And it was ever something that was seen on a screen. And ever since that moment, we put the sleepovers on a non negotiable list on our list of things we let our kids do and not do. And we quickly move that over to that side of the list because I just knew, right? In our culture, it's just too hard. There are so many screens in 10 years ago, maybe everybody had one iPhone or something. But now, there are drawers full of devices that can be connected to the internet via Wi Fi, and old computers in the attic. I mean, it would be really interesting to go take a survey and see how many hammy down or disabled screens are in all of our houses that can be easily turned on with a power cord and gotten on Wi Fi right. Oh, that

Dr. Stacey:

would be a great that would be a great survey to put out there. I bet that the average is ridiculous. Devices.

Melanie Hempe:

When you think of for a while there, especially with the phone companies. We were all getting a new phone every year you know, and so they're just everywhere and we think oh, my parents told me all the time. Well, they're not working. I'm like yeah, they are then all you have to do is find the charger and get on Wi Fi and you're in you don't have to have phone service to that device and then you have all the I touches and iPads and computers, you know, that are just piling up in our attics. This stuff, right that we were talking about. So are our personnel and I want to hear what what yours is, but our personal stand through the rest of our kids that we practiced on the first one. And so we just don't do sleepovers. And we we allow them to do half overs. And we call them half overs. People have different names for this, where we still allow them to go, they go at six o'clock, with everybody else, maybe having a birthday party, sleep, everything or whatever. But I just don't get my kids around 930 or 10, depending on their ages. What we have found is in our community, more and more people have started doing that. We are getting all the benefit of them being able to go and visit and be with their friends. But nothing good happens after 10 o'clock at a sleepover. I don't care how old you are. And you know, Dr. Stacy, how they sleep over these sleepovers just ruined your weekend, right? Because they come home, they're exhausted the whole next day you're paying for it. And so I got tired of that too. But I mostly just didn't want them. And I knew that the other parent was never going to be able to manage the phones from 10 kids at a sleepover. It is impossible.

Dr. Stacey:

We know it's interesting because my husband and I've had this discussion as of late that stemmed from one of my children going to a sleepover for a close friend and calling me at it may have been 10 o'clock and saying, Mom, I don't know what to do, because they're all in there on tick tock. Yeah. And she wasn't like distressed about it. But she just knows the rules. And she knows that she's not supposed to be doing that. Plus, it's

Melanie Hempe:

lonely and boring. She's on tick tock, what did she

Dr. Stacey:

girl were like in a separate room because she knew she wasn't supposed to be doing that and then come to find out she, you know, ended up in a tick tock video which was harmless, you know, to the degree that tick tock could be harmless, but, but interestingly, that led to a good conversation with another parent about, you know, we don't allow our kids to be on tick tock. We don't allow them to have tick tock in them. And the other parents said, Oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize I knew that she wasn't allowed to have a phone and be on her own device. But I didn't realize you also didn't want her videoed and on Tik Tok. Yeah, well, what do you know, that was a great discussion to have, because this other parent just didn't think about it because their philosophies are different than ours. But then the next time my child was invited to sleep over at this child's house, the parent said to me, can your child come spend the night we'll take our child's phone for the night? And I thought, well, that's progress. You know, I mean, that's like understanding that we have a different philosophy. But you know, we haven't gotten to the point where we don't allow sleepovers. But it's a thought that we have often right. And we haven't done a lot of sleepovers lately. And so it hasn't come up again. But I will tell you that I had this discussion recently with a parent at my office, because in my clinic because the child had gone to a sleepover. And I'd come home and for the next five or six days was just seemingly just kind of depressed and detached and just not himself, coming to find out that what were they doing a group of fifth graders boys had a sleepover. They were looking at porn, right? Yeah. And the mom was just totally distressed because she had no idea. So that was a good time to talk about, okay, if you're gonna send your kids to someone else's house, you need to talk to them about what their philosophy is, you know, and a lot of parents will say, Well, when we have sleepovers, we'll make the kids put their phone in a basket. And you know, well, that's a great idea if you're awake, and you're monitoring the basket. But once you're in bed, yeah, I'm pulling the phones out of the basket. And we had a sleepover recently not of course, as I do when we have sleepovers at our house, I tell every parent, we don't allow phones, leave your phones at home, call me if you need something your kid can use my phone if they need to call you. And one of the kids brought his phone and I found him, you know, up there on his phone. And he was you know, I mean, he was playing a game or something. It's not like he was, you know, doing anything terrible. But the point being is, it might be worth reiterating to the parents when they drop their child off like oh, so and so doesn't have his phone, right? Because we don't allow those. So that little slip at that one time, is there was a reminder to

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah, it just makes you think twice and I know that kids will put their phones in the basket and whatnot, but then they bring two phones, then they just bring another one, they have another device that they use. And because what happens it night is, you know, the brain becomes even less coherent for a teenager than it is during the day. And that's really scary, their guard goes down. The other thing is with numbers, right with peers with more. So your child will do more risky behavior when they have peers around them than they will do just by themselves. Oh, for sure. What they think of it home may be very different than what they're thinking of with five other kids in the room that are all doing the same thing. And I do know, from my experience, in the last 10 years of talking to parents and doing these workshops, I cannot tell you, I wish there was a study, there's probably a study on this, the first time porn experience being at another person's house at a sleepover, I think it's very high. I think this at least from my anecdotal research, I will say that most of the parents have come to me with a very devastating story about their child, like you just said that story of you know, they're depressed and whatever, it loops back to something they sought to sleep over. I don't want to be like a urban legend or something. But I do think that the chances for that to happen is much higher, when there's no supervision, and you know, you think you're there, you think you're the parent, whatever, but you're downstairs and you go to sleep in the kids are all staying up, and they're all doing stuff, there's no way that you can know what they're doing. And I think it's too much pressure to put on parents today to be responsible for what kids are doing alone. While they're having a sleepover with some device in the room. I'm sorry, I just think it's too much. I think it's too much for them. I think if you can have sleep over at your house, and you already know that you have the screens locked down, and that no one's bringing them in, that's a little bit different story. We have only a few families like two families, when our kids were little that we would allow them if we were traveling my husband, I a few times had to go out of town, there were only one or two homes that we allowed our kids to even stay in that that was because they were ScreenStrong families. And we knew we felt very comfortable with that. And it's not like we're judging other families, we've been burned. And we're just not gonna do and we didn't see the risk benefit that was there. I mean, there was just not, there wasn't a benefit.

Dr. Stacey:

Well, I think it's important to emphasize what you said about when kids get together at the sleepovers and it's late at night, and they're, you know, running on fumes and the things that they'll do that they wouldn't normally do. Like, here's an example, a group of boys got together at a sleepover, they might have been in sixth grade, it was two in the morning, and they started to text out on a group text, terrible pornographic images. Okay, so here it is 2am, these parents who were asleep, you know, I mean, they didn't know what these boys were doing. And then that affected all these girls that they sent all these images to. And so one of the parents had her child's device in her room and saw it and so immediately tried to alert all the parents. That leads to a whole lot of discussions about okay, the sleep over was the initial issue. But then there's all these kids who sleep with their phones in their rooms, or their parents aren't watching them. And then your kids getting exposed to things, you know, at 11 years old that they shouldn't get exposed to. So I think it's worth families thinking about the sleepover issue. And wouldn't it be great if all the parents got together and said, you know, we're just not going to do sleepovers anymore? Yeah, then we will not be exhausted and the kids wouldn't feel left out. And you could stay till 10 o'clock. And then you can get together the next morning and have breakfast. If we

Melanie Hempe:

did that. We did that too. When they were in middle school, one of the sleepovers they were having breakfast next morning, so I drove him back over there, it worked fine. And it really did take, it did take off in our community. And he I know girls probably tend to have a little more of that, than boys. But boys do too. You know, they want to have a lot of sleepovers. And we just changed our tune over here in Italy took a few times. And then all the parents knew that they can invite the MPs over but we would come get them at 10 and Boyd and I get a lot of calls from other parents and that is the best idea I've ever heard. I wasn't going to feel bad one way or the other because I don't really care what other people think about what we're doing with our parenting and so that's a good thing. I probably used to care more but after all of our stuff we went through with our oldest and just don't care anymore and my job is to protect my kids and not over protect them but to all obviously take out the obstacles that are going to trip them up. I don't think it's a good good idea to know knowingly let them do something that you know is going to trip them up. So let's shift a second. What do you recommend? Or what would you say? I'm kind of putting you on the spot because we haven't even talked about this, about a situation with grandparents. Right? So it's not another parent, it's, it's a friend, it's summer, I want to talk about what do we do with when your kids go to grandma's house? Maybe they are going for the week to spend with grandparents course? I don't know if people do that as much anymore. I don't know. We did that some when we were raising our kids. And we did it personally when I was growing up, but you've got cousins, you've got that situation? What about you're going to the beach with an extended family group, and all the cousins now are, you know, 11 o'clock in the morning playing fortnight and you want to be out on the beach? What do you do without sounding like, you're the mean, mom?

Dr. Stacey:

Well, and I've had this discussion with our extended family, if my kids go to their house for a sleepover, or to play for the day or whatever, we have a great aunt who's very involved in our kids life, and she doesn't have children. And so she loves having our children around. And so we've had conversations with our family about, you know, this is a generally accepted practice about other families. But we don't do that. So we don't want our kids. So if our kid, they're going to ask for your iPad Nana, they're going to ask for it because they know you have one. And they know that you let them do things Mom and Dad, don't let them do like eat cookies for breakfast. ask you about that. And so we just want you to say, no, but here's an idea of something we can do, and not even let them use the devices. Because next thing you know, they've been playing Candy Crush for two hours. And that's, you know, and they're there to spend time with you and do things. And so now, you know, my kids go to the grandparents house and they sew and they cook and they go for walks and they play outside and they you know, do things, it's a little bit stickier when you have siblings of yours, of yours have children. So you have nieces and nephews and they have different philosophies about screens. And but I think that like with anything in life, communication is key. I mean, you just talk to them and you say I understand that you you have different philosophy than us, but we don't bend on this. So if my child's at your home, I really don't want them on a device. And so I found all are receptive to that.

Melanie Hempe:

If you're on beach vacation, and everybody's staying in the same house or something, then you know what, grab your kids up and go do something, if they're,

Dr. Stacey:

that's what we do, we go every year at Thanksgiving with a huge group of families to the beach. And we're the only family in that group that doesn't allow our kids to have screens. And so you know that sometimes those kids are over, you know, making tic TOCs and stuff, and we just tell our kids, you can go ride bikes with them. But if they're, you know, videoing themselves and doing all those things, I need you to not do that. And yeah, and our kids understand, because we have talked about it so much with them about the reasoning for it. And so, you know, sometimes those kids, we won't see them for hours, because they're sitting in their room at the beach house on Instagram or whatever. And, and our kids have noticed that but, you know, I think it makes for a good example for your kids to, you know, stick with that and not like, Oh, we're on vacation. So we're going to use those screens while we're there.

Melanie Hempe:

But how sad. I mean, it's just so sad and our, you know, to think that you don't see this extended family, but maybe even once a year, and this is what we're doing, we're playing on screens, you know, it's just so sad in our course, just in case you're wondering out there, and you're maybe taking notes, we do have all this outlined in our course in the solution section. And we have actual conversations that you can have with your extended family, your sister in law, your brother in law, your grandparents, the in laws, you know, we have little sample conversations in there. So I think it really helps to know what to say, especially the first few times you're starting to do this, I always say to ask for their help. And could you you know, maybe it's something like could you help me think of some ideas that we could do instead of screen time, you know, because we're struggling with this, or we've struggled in the past or we have friends that struggle and we're just not going down that path? You know, so make it more of a team effort, like hey, you're very creative, you know, why don't you help me think of something they can do. So you're not making your sister in law feel bad. It's so hard when it's family. You know, I

Dr. Stacey:

agree. I think it's really good. You know, like when we head down to the beach, we have a 15 hour drive and so that gives us a lot of time to talk. And so we talk about that we say okay, when we get down here and these other kids here and as time has gone on the kids have gotten older some More and more of them have their own device. And we say, you know, their family has a different philosophy than our family. Right? It would be great if you could encourage those kids who are our friends to not be sitting on the side of the pool on their phone, encourage them to get in, let's play Sharks and Minnows or let's go down to the park and throw the frisbee or I mean, you know, encourage them to not use their phone instead of the other way around instead of, you know, letting them encourage you to want to do that. And I think that that's helped as well. And then sometimes it's just our kids hanging out with each other, because they are the ones that have their heads up, you know, and so that's okay,

Melanie Hempe:

too. Yeah, that's, that's okay, too. Yeah. And this reminds me that another really good tip, we were talking a minute ago about bringing things and offering things to replace this screen time, whether it's honestly to play date, or sleep over grandma's house, just a friend's house that moved in down the street that you're trying to get your kids to get to know, and to bring something and so some ideas for grandparents, because it's hard. I know that most grandparents that I hear about, I'm not saying this about everybody, but a lot of them have the TV on, right, and it's just on all day, and kids come in and get glued to watching Jeopardy or something on the couch with them. But I think it's a really cool idea is to have the kids bring little projects with them. Like, like at grandpa's, we are working on a airplane model, for example. So it's something that grandpa can keep in his house. And every time the kids come over, they can work on it a little bit with him, whether it's something in the garage, I think building models is wonderful. Could be Legos, but I love the old timey models that we used to build growing up, you know, the ships and airplanes and that stuff. It's such such good I hand eye coordination and all that in pleasure to follow all the directions. And it's really hard. And the whole thing with the glue is really hard, because you know, everything's art, and it's really good. But then also to bring a basket with ingredients to make a certain recipe, whether it's a batch of cookies, or a certain cake or something that is like trail mix, or something that's a little more complicated, where you as the mom can go get all the ingredients, put it all, you know, together in a basket. So So grandma has what she needs, and the kids can, can make it. And so it's just helping with that extra step. I know with my daughter, we had a lot of jewelry making supplies. And when friends would come over, I would put all that out on the kitchen table. And they would sit there for hours and make little bracelets and necklaces and all that kind of stuff. So that's another thing that you can package up and send to the beach, right. And so everybody at the beach can now make matching bracelets. And so you have to think ahead a little bit you do have to be creative, but you don't have to do this forever.

Dr. Stacey:

And that's what we want people to remember that we need to do is you really DO, you need to be creative, you need to think that you need to plan and you know really step outside. And I think it's important to remember that when we're going to a friend's house or we're going to Grandma's house or we're spending time with her cousins or whatever it is part of the reason for doing that is to allow those other people to share their talents with your child. So if you're just looking at a device or playing games on a phone or making tic tock sort of it that's not sharing your talent. So let's, you know encourage grandma and grandpa or aunts and uncles or cousins like what is it that you like to do? How can you share your talent with our family? And how can we share our talents with your work with your family,

Melanie Hempe:

that screen presence will rob them of that it steals not just time but it just steals like you said all those talents and all of that serendipitous stuff that happens that will not happen when that screen is the option and y'all listening out there, you know, we sound like broken records. And we will continue to sound like broken records because there's no fix to this other than to say no, there's just no fix. There's no good way for kids to spend three hours at the beach one morning making Tiktok videos, this is just not a good use of time. And we're not just saying this, from our opinion, we're saying from a mental health perspective, from a medical perspective, from what we're enjoying right now. Dr. Stacy is so fabulous because all of the work that we did, by saying no opening the door to all these other things that the kids do, we're reaping the benefit of that now, even this week when their friend is here. They are doing now all of these creative things. You don't have to keep doing this forever. Mom and dad if you're listening, your your job is just short. It's not going to be forever that you have to do this. The last time we went to the beach a few weeks ago, they had three their friends come so I have five boys at the beach and they brought their stuff you know they brought the Spikeball. They rot, they thought ahead, they did it. So I just want you to be encouraged that you are training them how to be a good friend down the road. And I will tell you, you cannot train that on a screen. It's impossible. Friendships don't happen. And I want to talk about this a second, it's when they're playing on a screen. It's like side by side play. What do they call that? Is that what they call that in the medical community where it's like, hello, parallel. That's what I meant to say, Yeah, parallel play. It's like little toddlers, you know, in the sandbox. Remember, those days when our toddlers were in the sandbox, and they get the shovel and hit each other on the head, and everybody cries, but you know, you get them back going, whether they're not really playing together, they're playing side by side. And that's what screen play is. It's more like parallel play. It's not. It's not like real play even. And it's certainly not free play.

Dr. Stacey:

That's why I encourage parents, even if you're not fully committed to the ScreenStrong lifestyle, yet, when there are kids with you, where regardless of their age, and I mean, kids, anybody who's you know, younger than college age, or even then, when they're with you, in your car, in your home, whatever, don't let them be on their screens, when kids get in my car, I don't care if your parent lets you be on your phone, 24/7, you're not going to be on your phone in my car. And so I can't tell you how many times I look up in the little mirror in my minivan and say okay, to put the phone down, but the phone, don't put the phone down. And because it should not be quiet in my car, when there's six boys in there, it should not Oh, it should be really loud, but lots of you don't. And so I think it's important for them to have those interactions and be laughing with each other and telling jokes and teasing each other and all the things that kids do. And so I encourage you, even if you're not fully committed to that to start there. And when you have kids that are under your care to just say to them, I mean, you're the parent, you know, put put your phone up, put your phone up, and they'll do it, you know, you ask them to and they'll do it. We have so many party at our house for my kids entire grade. And of course, they're not at huge school. So it wasn't, you know, I was maybe 35 kids or something, and they're in the pool, having a great time they get out and three of the boys immediately get on their phone. Yeah. So I go out there and I just say, hey, guys know, like you're here with your friends. If your parents need something, they have my numbers they can call you. And they kind of looked at me. And then they're like, Okay, yeah, I didn't have to ask one of them twice. But you know, back to having a good time and doing with distributing it.

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah. And one time I told a kid parent couple duo that they weren't allowed to bring their phones to my house. And the mom was just very anxious. And she said, Well, he gets very anxious when he doesn't have his phone, he has to be able to at least see his phone and within a distance. And I'm like, wow, you know, this apple is falling right under this tree. This, trust me, he'll be fine. It'll be fine. He won't know what hit him in our backyard, because we'll be swimming or doing whatever. But she was the one that really was anxious. I don't know, it was really weird. It was like, Oh my gosh, so it's really the parent, but good for you for being that bold. It is hard to be really bold with other people's kids, but good for you, especially when they're

Dr. Stacey:

not kids give me this look like mom like this, just you know, it'd be the same if they were smoking a cigarette like No, we're just going to do a lot at our house. And so if kids don't want to come over to our house anymore, because they can't be on the phone, that those just aren't the right kids, for our kids that for the majority of the time, that's not going to be the case, we did have a child declined to come to a birthday sleepover one time, because we told her she couldn't have her phone. So she decided not to come. That's her decision. And the parents, you know, maybe should have stepped in but but they didn't. And so I think it's just important for parents to feel empowered, to not let these adolescents and teenagers decide what's going to happen at your home. I mean, it just like with anything else you don't want them to be doing. You know, whether that smoking or drinking or, you know, using bad language. I mean, fill in the blank. But

Melanie Hempe:

I love what you're saying because so many parents, you may not know this about yourself, but are you scared of your kids friends? You know, sometimes we are I'll totally admit I'm raising my hand right now that the boys had some friends that I was kind of scared of those kids. I didn't want to have to tell him I mean, I'm just being really honest, I think is parents we have to get over this weird thing that we feel like they're not gonna like us or you know, who cares? ours, you know, you have to get over that you to be the coach, again, think of yourself as the coach, this is what the coach is doing. And Dr. Stacy is a fabulous coach. And she's just saying, Hey, this is our team, this is our turf, this is what we're doing, and you're not doing that. And come on, let's go have some fun. And they will be fine. You know, they will absolutely find the other thing I want to say. And I'm sure you would agree with this, Dr. Stacy, we should never be afraid of losing a friend or two to this.

Dr. Stacey:

Absolutely not. They're not the right friends for you. If they can't, you know, follow what you think is the healthiest for your family. It's just like, I have a kid with celiac disease, right? She can't have gluten at all. Okay, and so I'm not gonna send her out into, you know, a restaurant full of pasta right now, because that's not good for her. I mean, that's, you know, could harm her. It's the same thing. Like, I'm not going to be afraid of these other kids. I'm not, you know, if they, if we lose a friend over it, that that was not the right friend for us. Yeah. And I think there's this fallacy now where we feel like, our kids need 1700 friends. And I don't, a handful of good friends is really what you need. I mean, you don't need all you know, there's one friend of mine who has a teenager who has 3400, quote, friends on Instagram, no, we don't need that much. We don't need that big of a sphere of influence.

Melanie Hempe:

Now, that's very, very stressful. But the ironic thing is, is your child will have more friends when they are ScreenStrong. Mark my words, this is something I've seen over and over and over again, please understand, they will have more friends, true friends

Dr. Stacey:

as well. Yeah, true friends, true friends,

Melanie Hempe:

because your house is going to be way more fun. Kids will love coming over what we do in the summer a lot. Again, I have some of the instructions for some of the stuff in the course, when they were in third, fourth, fifth grade, sixth grade, maybe I can't have to go back. And look, we had backyard art camp at our house. Now I know nothing about art, okay. I mean, I'm not an artist. However, I did backyard art camps, we had 12 Boys, we did it just for boys, because we had boys all the time. And our house is now with these kids. And now they're all in high school, they have all these fond memories of our house as being the fun house. And let me tell you, it was fun. You know, you do this in the backyard, you put big tables out, you give them pains, I had it all organized. And that's the other thing that I want to say that it's everything that you've said today, even Dr. Stacy, it's something that you have to have organized in your head ahead of time, you have to plan ahead, you have to schedule, even when you have kids coming over to your house, especially when they're younger, you really need a schedule of those activities are going to happen, you know, at noon, we're going to do this at 130, we're going to transition to do this and at three, we're going to do this like you have to have that idea in your head, it goes so much better than just letting kids you know, run off and try to do things on their own, they'll all end up in front of a TV by the way.

Dr. Stacey:

Or you know, one thing we like to do is we have a chalkboard in our house. And on the bottom corner of the chalkboard we have a piece of paper. And on that piece of paper we have a list of things to do when you run out of things to do on that it's like you know, sometimes we just can't think of what to do. And so that list has things that you can do. So when the kids come in, they say, Well, we're bored or you know, we don't have anything to do and they're their friends over. I'm like, Look at this. Let's pick one of these things. Yeah, yeah. And a lot of times that helps. Because that's planning ahead and you have some some ideas.

Melanie Hempe:

Well, and we like I said, we have a lot of art supplies at our house all the time. It's amazing what happens just like your story at the beginning, when you hand a kid a paintbrush, you just don't know what you're sitting on, you know, you don't know what they're going to be able to do. And many of the kids from our art camp that we did in the summers. Now, the moms have told me that that was their first exposure to all different kinds of art and they have stuck with many of the same things all through their high school years. And I think that's really fascinating. One of the kids is becoming an architect and she told me millennial started at your art camp. And that made me feel really cool because we had a box of 1000 popsicle sticks and they all had to build something.

Dr. Stacey:

Or you know we have a pile of like limbs that have fallen down in our yard. Yeah, and yes, we just have a stack of them in the yard. So it's like go so you can make can you build something

Melanie Hempe:

out? Yeah, there's so many ideas and we don't have time to go into all that so we got to wrap up but there are so many ideas I as I've been taking notes here, Dr. Stacy is you've been talking we've just been going over this I came up with this little thing for people to remember so act it's a CT if y'all are taking notes if you're driving please don't reach for a pen. Think about our wrap up today like this. A is for ask the parents if screens will be out. So not don't be afraid to ask parents don't be fraid to say no to, you know, certain activities that you don't want your kids to go, especially if you realize there's not going to be any screen policing going on there it is, okay. The C stands for be creative. And so we've been talking about a bunch of creative ideas that you can offer without being offensive to the other house. Or you can say, you know, why don't they come to our house, and we'll make pizzas and play basketball, and then they can go to your house, you know, you can kind of split it up if you want to do that to offer some creative ideas. But the idea of any kind of art pudding that games of course, even slip and slides and water balloons, I mean, there's a million things that you can do to be creative. And then the T is for tell them no, you know, pivot and say no, when necessary. So I hope that you know, just from today that some of y'all have gotten really encouraged around, being able to get your confidence up to just tell your kids no, we're not going to play that house. We like those people. Of course, you don't want to say anything ugly, but better. Stacey, I love how you just keep saying this is our family, this, these are our values, and we just do things differently. I think that's really good. So that might be a little way to remember it the AC T. I don't know if that helps or not. Is there anything else that you can offer as we start to, to wrap up, Dr. Stacy, just some encouraging, you know, words, because I know there are parents that are listening that are cringing over things that have happened sleepovers or playdates, and they're feeling a huge burden, right? Because they don't want to lose. You know, maybe it's their best friend. Maybe it's their maybe it's the mom's best friend, and she just doesn't want her kids to go play over there. How can you encourage her?

Dr. Stacey:

I think it goes back to like I said earlier in our discussion today about communication. So I think you know, it's important to talk to the other parents and let them know, I'm not judging you. I'm not judging your decision, I think that you should do what's best for your family. But I just want you to know that this is what's best for our family. And if it's too hard for you to have my child at your home without screens, I would love to have your child at my home. And I think it's you know, just to let the other family know that we love you. We love your kids, our kids love your kids. We want to spend time with you. But we have to do it inside these parameters. I think if you do it in a loving and careful way, you won't go wrong. You don't be afraid. Don't be afraid of other kids. It's our job to raise good adults, not kids out of your best friend it don't be afraid of them. Yeah.

Melanie Hempe:

In one playdate one sleepover is not gonna mess up their life, right. If they don't get to go now It certainly can mess up and do a whole lot of damage. If the wrong thing happens at that playdate or that sleepover. Trust me, I have a story for that that we won't go into today. But it is serious. This isn't like something to be flippant about. It's very serious. We live in a day and age where we have a lot of technology. And a lot of it is so good. And we love it. And there's so many wonderful things. But there's a flip side to it and equal in the opposite direction. It can be really bad and your kid, your teenager even doesn't have the frontal cortex, executive function ability yet to make these decisions. And I think that it's really too heavy of a burden for them, you need to say no, and pick them up at 10 o'clock at the sleepover or shift gears and have them over to your house during the summer, it will take more time and some parents just aren't going to be able to do it. One thing encouraging that I will say just really quick that I just thought of is during the summer, I shift my work schedule. So I am home a lot more. And I am doing a whole lot more at my house because I know how important it is. It's a sacrifice that I don't mind at all making, it won't last forever. And that's why I want to encourage you the investment that you're making right now with the details of these decisions in your kids lives when their brain is still forming when it's still so malleable or whatever that word is words changing all the time. It's so critical. You don't want to mess up in this area. You don't want to err on this, you know, you want to err on the side of being a little more confident in what you're doing. And on the side of not taking so many risks around this. They will be fine. They will be like my kids did today. Even with their friend over here. They have so many fun things to do. Getting on a screen doesn't even cross their mind anymore. That's just not their thing. It's just not what they do. And also with our core values, Dr. Stacy, you know, I'll just say those really quickly. Again, I haven't brought these up on the podcast in a while but our first core value is to just say no to these toxic screens. The second one is to eliminate them. So it's not about just saying no, it's about getting rid of the things that are causing problems. I mean, don't fix it if it's not broken. But if it's not working well for you, you've got to get rid of it. The third thing is to develop life skills. And the fourth thing is to prioritize these authentic relationships through these types of friendships that you're going to help your child learn how to build. And the final thing is building healthy families. Thank you so much for joining us. And we just look forward to having you on a regular basis because we everybody's love hearing from you know, just loves hearing from you. And we just want you to know that you found your home, we love having you. And if anyone out there has any questions specifically for Dr. Stacy, please email those questions at our team. Email. It's T am it screenstrong.com. So again, thank you so much. And we're gonna have you back. I've already got a couple of topics lined up. So I can't wait. One of the things we're going to talk about with Dr. Stacy is the whole conversation around eighth grade and middle school and even high school, and why social media and phones really are not such a great idea for that age. I can't wait to have you back on for that. We're looking forward to it. So I hope you all enjoyed listening today. Remember, we do have a 30 day detox summer is a perfect time to do this detox, we have that in our course dashboard. So our course is up and running, please go to our site and check that out. Summer is a great time to do some reading with that and to get your small group together, join our community and get support from like minded families. We have our Facebook group ScreenStrong families where people are in there just waiting to help you. We didn't talk a whole lot about phones today. But if you use the code strong with the gap phone, you will get a discount. Dr. Stacy and I both use that in our families. With our kids. It's just talking text. And we don't have to worry about anything on the internet, distracting them from other things they should be doing. And so what's your homework? Well, you're going to ask us some more questions, you're going to make a list. Why don't you do this write down make a list of five friends who would enjoy this podcast and give them a call. You know, when was the last time we actually called somebody on? We don't usually do that I shock people sometime when I just call them they're like, Oh, you called me. So give them a call and let them know about the podcast. We can't do this without you. We need helping promotions, if they went out there is wanting to help us with promotions or marketing, please let me know. You can email us at team@screenstrong.com. And the other other homework that I think would be really fun is to make a list of all the kids that you would invite to come over for maybe a outdoor movie night at your house or an art camp or just to ride bikes. Go ahead and just make a list or something that happens when we write things down. And I think what you'll find is your kids have a whole lot more friends than you think they do. And we don't need to worry about losing some friends if they don't want to come over because you're not going to let them bring screens. So remember, we've got your back and we are here to help you. Until next time, stand up for your kids stand out from the crowd and stay strong.