Episode 188: Teens and Technology with Milo Anderson
Miranda: Welcome back to Live Free Creative Podcast. I’m your host, Miranda Anderson. You’re listening to episode number 188: Teens and Tech.
A very special guest is with me here today. My son, Milo Anderson is here as we discuss teens and technology.
Milo: Yes, a very special guest.
Miranda: He’s a perfect guest for this. As he recently turned 13 and technology is a hot topic at our house.
As I imagine it is at many of your homes where your children are probably above the age of seven or eight, which is about when it starts to become a discussion point.
We put out a survey on Instagram, got a bunch of great questions. We’re going to answer your questions and have a candid conversation about this topic. We’re going to start with a quick segment.
Segment: Milo’s Peaks of the Week
Milo is taking over the segment and he is going to share some of his own peaks of the week.
Milo: And one last thing. Yes, Aunt Kate, I am 13!
Okay. Peaks of the week,
As soon as you know, it was my 13th, turn around the sun earlier this month. But we’re recording this the day after my milestone.
Something that was gifted to me was this tie-dye sweatshirt. It’s so comfortable.
Miranda: It looks so cute on you.
Milo: I’m wearing it right now. And it’s just. I love it. So. Yeah.
Miranda: Dad picked out a good one.
Miranda: So that’s your first pick of the week and we will try to find it to put in the show notes.
Milo: My second one was that we went to cheesecake factory, which is a tradition that I like to do for birthday dinners. And this time I decided to go rogue and get some orange chicken.
Miranda: Way, way rogue. You normally get the sliders. And even had a minute where you were like, I want sliders and orange chicken, and then you decided to just go for it.
Milo: And it was such a big plate, huge plate. It was awesome. I had to like in a minute and a half. I ate lots of orange chicken. Delicious meal.
Miranda: Cheesecake Factory orange chicken is his peak of the week number two.
Milo: Yeah. Number three was the thing that we, we had like a little like low key party and it was fun. We had like giant pizzas. They were huge. And we did like a kickball. With like the parents and the kids. And it was awesome.
Miranda: Yeah. That was fun. Kickball has become kind of a new night game in our neighborhood. We have some great neighbors and friends and my littles run out around dark usually and say, I’m going to play kickball football.
So, for his birthday, we invited all the neighbors in there, the adults and kids, and we had pizza and play kickball, the super fun.
Milo: It was fun. My fourth one was like; I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was so awesome. I got some new Air Pods.
Miranda: super cool Air Pods to Bluetooth, to his music tech little device called Mighty Vibe.
Milo: Yeah. It’s like a music only tech device.
Miranda: So, we’ll talk about that a little bit more in this episode, some of the things that we’re doing at our house to make sure that Milo has alot of the access to some of the technology that he wants without having full access to a smartphone at this age. So, the four is your Air Pods.
Milo: Yeah. I will just say that within, we bought the Air Pods with the apple care, like insurance thing so that if you lose or break one, it’s only $29 to get anyone.
Miranda: And within about what two days, what had happened to one of your Air Pods?
Milo: No mercy.
Miranda: Otis, Milo’s six-month old puppy chewed, one of the Air Pods completely up like, like you just put it on,
Milo: destroyed, like the bar, like the tip was like chewed.
Miranda: I was very happy that we decided to go with the insurance because he got a new air pod for only 30 bucks, which is nice because they’re expensive, learning some responsibility along, along the way.
Milo: Right now, they stay in the case, and the dog goes in the crate when he’s not being watched. We’re all learning together. Yeah.
Miranda: Those are some great peaks of the week, Milo. Your sweatshirt, your Cheesecake Factory favorite meal, orange chicken. Your kickball game and your Air Pods. Awesome. Okay. Those are Milo’s peaks!
Those were great Peaks of the Week, Milo. Thank you. So, we’re excited to share this episode. I had Milo on an episode about Raising Tweens, probably sometime last year, and it was a very highly downloaded episode.
People loved getting the perspective of a kiddo in the podcast, as well as you know, it’s kind of new territory to raise a little becoming independent adult. Especially as we’ve just reached this new milestone of Milo becoming an official teenager adult.
And if he thinks an official adult, I’ve keep reminding him, it’s 18 to become an official adult, but you’re a few years away.
Milo: But an official teenager, we don’t have to say tween anymore.
Miranda: We have been discussing, again, some of the guidelines around technology use in our home. I sent out a poll a couple months ago about what would you like to hear from Milo and I, as we do an episode together, and I got a few different responses, but most of the responses that I got were we would love to hear what Milo and you think about teens at technology, because it’s such a hot topic.
Miranda: Even on the car ride over here. Milo and I were discussing some of the things that we wanted to share on the episode. It was clear that we had very different opinions. We have very different opinions. So, this is going to be a very candid conversation.
I did put a call out on Instagram to my Instagram community. I’m @livefreemiranda. It’s a great place to participate in some of these polls and to kind of follow along with what’s happening behind the scenes over here, we got some great questions that we’re going to share, but before we dive into the questions, I wanted to just introduce some of our own family guidelines around screens and technology.
Anderson Family Screen Guidelines
Milo share with me are family screen time policies.
Milo: Well, we don’t usually have any on weekdays and we usually have like two to three hours a week. With chores and like spending time with friends and outside.
Miranda: Yeah, exactly. So we are, we, we tend to be screen-free during school days. The kids do use their laptops for homework assignments and things like that.
Milo: But our weekdays are the computer. The iPad that remote control for the TV, those things all stay in the technology box. In the technology box.
Miranda: We love the technology box and then laptops go in the technology box after dinner.
Milo: Yeah. After homework is done.
So, laptops and cell phones, Milo’s the only one with a cell phone, but they go in the technology box after dinner. And the kids love having screen time on the weekends, they come home from school, drop their backpacks on Friday afternoon. And Plum turns on her favorite show on TV. The boys like to play video games together a lot of the time, which is great. Their favorites right now are Minecraft and Fortnite.
And sometimes they even play with friends. Like they’ll make dates with their friends, like meet me on fortnight at 4:30 PM and they get on and we can hear them chatting with their friends. And so, I think that there’s some fun, positive interactions that happen there.
We usually try to limit their weekend per day to about two to three hours, depending on what else is happening. And I want to talk about this a little bit later, but there’s some important sort of counterbalances to the screen time that we use, like spending time outside, making sure we have some good quality family time interactions and that they have in-person interaction with friends. So, their social interaction isn’t just online.
Milo: And like you said, I do go out like every night to go out and play night games.
Miranda: Yeah, so fun. So those are our kind of general family screen-time guidelines. Milo got his cell phone when he turned 11, that was kind of his entrance into tween age hood. We decided on a Gabb phone, which has all that ability to talk text.
He now has the photo texting and the group texting available.
We’ll put a link in the show notes for the Gabb phone. And I think I have a discount code even that I can put in there. ($10 off with LIVEFREE) My other two kids have Gabb watches as well that I can GPS track them. They can send me messages and voice messages.
They can reply to text messages. They can call me. So that’s nice for them playing outside in the neighborhood. And just generally having the sort of tiptoe interaction into the world of technology as young kids at a developmentally appropriate.
Our plan, which Milo totally disagrees with, is for Milo to continue with his Gabb phone until he turns 16.
So, he just turned 13. And even what was it a couple of weeks ago, you presented an amazing PowerPoint presentation.
Milo: I am very good. I’ve gotten some experience with PowerPoint.
Miranda: He took a computer solutions class in school this year and he learned all the ins and outs of PowerPoint. And so, when he has an argument to bring or like a suggestion, he creates an incredible PowerPoint presentation about it with animation and research.
The one that did work was your PowerPoint presentation about why we should get kittens.
Milo: Oh, that one worked, and we have kittens now that they are the best.
Miranda: That was a great one. We all feel good about it. The most recent one was about why he should get a different phone that allows parental controlled apps and social media. It still doesn’t have social media. I think it’s called a Pinwheel.
It’s sort of like a step between a Gabb and like a smartphone. And while the PowerPoint presentation was fantastic, both Milo’s dad. And I decided that we still feel great about him not having access to a smartphone until his brain is a little bit further developed.
Miranda: So, like it or not, we are doing not smart technology for our teens until they are a little bit more developed.
I wanted to share a little bit about that decision because it touches on some of the questions that we got. So, I wanted to just share right into the questions.
So maybe I’ll pull a couple of questions and then share some answers to that. So here we go with the first question:
Are you sticking with the Gabb phone or are you moving onto a smartphone?
Miranda: Someone else asked you have an iPhone. When is the right age for a kid to have a smartphone? And I want to just blanket statement with these are such personal decisions.
It’s going to vary family to family. It’s going to vary kid to kid, and the reasons that we have chosen to stay on a Gabb phone for a few more years are again, personal decisions based on our kids and our family and some of our own understanding.
Smartphone + Teens Research
Miranda: One of the things that I like to look at is what is some of the scientific research saying about smartphone use social media use and adolescents. And while there is an overwhelming amount of research that has been done, most of it shows at least a slight negative correlation between the amount of time that kids use in social media and their wellbeing.
Some of the positive things that come from social media use and smartphone use are entertainment self-expression and having the ability to connect with people online.
A lot of the negative things are really concerning to me though.
A lot of the negative things, there was a pew research study done in 2018 that said between 13- and 17-year old’s, about 45% of them were using their cell phones smartphones and 97% of them had at least some slight negative effects from them.
The negative effects being that they were highly destructible, that it affected their sleep negatively. They couldn’t sleep as well, that they were susceptible to bullying and even outside of, you know, that’s something kids are as susceptible to just being adolescents, but I’m saying like, how do they know that it was specifically from, because the research was done through their screens about their screen time specifically, also they do like a control, like where they did it without screens.
Yeah. Also, about three kids who spent three hours a day or more engaged in social media had higher rates of depression and anxiety, higher rates of social comparison and became more impulsive.
Milo: So that, does it say whether any of them had like, like a mental health. Like beforehand, like they had like ADHD or something?
Miranda: I think that’s such a great question, right?
Milo: It can add to their impulsiveness.
Miranda: Yes, exactly. So, this is what I was just going to say. And I’m so glad. I mean, that’s a such a great segue and therefore I say it’s dependent on family and dependent on kids because kids that are already naturally inclined to impulsivity or distraction, like kids who have ADHD or anxiety, the effects that they have from social media use are even more negative.
They’re even greater. So, the distractibility is higher. The attention control is lower. The sleep is lower, and the overall wellbeing of these kids declined. So, I mean, the research, I we’ve told Milo a couple of times that if he can find some research studies that show a positive correlation between smartphone uses in teenagers and there, their overall wellbeing that we would reconsider.
But right now, when I’m looking, he’s like, please send it over right now because of my understanding already of the decline of mental health in adolescents across the board. Every tool that I can give my kids to succeed, to feel more engaged in their own lives, to build their own identities and to be less susceptible to distractibility, impulsivity, depression, anxiety, worry, bullying, all those things I want to, I want to equip them with the best tools possible.
So, there was a there’s a couple of other things I wanted to mention as I’m talking about this.
Surgeon General Call for Adolescent Mental Health
In 2021, I, I didn’t know about this until I was researching for this episode, but. Did you all know listeners that in 2021, the Surgeon General of the United States of America put out a call…
Milo: Surgeon General?
Miranda: He’s like the doctor for America. He’s like the head doctor. So, he works with a lot of people to decide.
Milo: He’s a doctor?
Miranda: He’s usually a physician and he/she will– they’re appointed, and they get to make some of like the general rules or guidelines. So, like on cigarette packets, it has the Surgeon General’s Warning.
And that was like a law that on all the cigarette packets that had to show that like, there could be danger. Lots of warnings and those types of things. So, in 2021, he put out a big packet about trying to help our kids. Like he’s trying to prevent a pandemic of mental health decline in adolescents and social media is one of the things that’s mentioned.
It’s a, it’s like a 35-page packet. I’ll link it into the show notes, but I thought it was interesting, because it specifically talks about technology use about protecting kids from the negative effects of technology, social media, the negative effects of the isolation the that came with the pandemic.
And I thought that was all very interesting. So, the last study that I thought was, well, it wasn’t even a study in April of this year, 2022, the New York times, you know…
Milo: The New York times that bought Wordle?
Miranda: Yeah. That New York times they referenced a study that was just done in great Britain and a huge study, probably one of the most wide-scaled that had been done.
One thing that I thought was interesting about this study and what it revealed was that there are times in teenager-hood in adolescents when kids are even more susceptible to the negative effects of social media use, one of them is right at the cusp of adolescence and it cited this as 11 to 14 for girls and 14 to 15 for boys that this is right when their identities are starting to be formed when they’re trying to differentiate themselves from their families, from their parents.
And they’re finding that this is sort of a critical time for kids to be able to be independent of other people’s ideas and expectations of them so that they can form a good sense of self and that social media distracts. That they end up feeling like they’re building their identity based on the reflections of their peers.
They have a harder time kind of establishing that sense of self. And then it takes a break for a little while. And then the study showed that it flared up again around 18 and 19. And that’s probably that same kind of transition when you, what are you at 18, a real adult, right?
Where a lot of kids are moving away for the first time, they’re going to college for the first time. And they’re really starting to separate like an identity, separate from their families, their parents, and their peers. So those are the two critical periods for social media use and kits.
So based on the research, our family has decided that for our kids, that we want to give them as much time as possible with the training wheels of. Technology use having a phone, being able to learn some basic policies around talking and texting and being friends with people through their phones, as well as in person.
And that we will maintain that as a guideline until a little bit later in their teenagers.
Milo: I never heard that. Like that was my first time hearing that New York times thing. And I think that, like, I think he might’ve changed my opinion.
Miranda: Oh, that easily?
Milo: that easily. Maybe not easily, but like that, like, I don’t know that I was thinking about that. It’s like you might’ve got me.
Miranda: Well, we’ve got real life opinion changing happening over here. I want to ask you Milo based on these questions. Yeah. So, there’s a question that says Milo, do you feel pressure from peers to use social media or other types of technology?
Miranda: How so?
Milo: Like maybe people will ask me for my social media, but I won’t have any, and then I make a white lie.
Miranda: What might this conversation look like? Hey, Milo, what’s your Snapchat.
Miranda: Let’s just do that. Yeah.
Milo: Okay. And then I might say well, what I should say or could say is I’m like, I don’t have it or it’s like, not my thing. If we I might say like more realistically, it’s like, like I forgot, like I forgot to. To, like, like I have it, but like…
Miranda: so, you kind of want to pretend like you have it, but they just don’t like, use it very much.
Milo: Yeah. So, I don’t have it. I don’t use it, but I, yeah. So, there is a little bit of pressure.
Miranda: Hey, Milo can I follow you on TikTok?
Milo: I could see how that could make someone like want to like, make like a secret for just so like their friends.
Miranda Yeah. That was another question.
Have you or your friends created a TikTok or Snapchat account using a friend’s phone if it’s not allowed on your own phone?
Milo: No. I’ve never made a secret account on someone else’s phone.
Miranda: Do you know of people who do that use their, like their friend’s phone to make a social media account? I don’t know you know of any people, but most of your friends, would you say have smart phones or don’t?
Milo: yes, 100%.
Miranda: What type of phones do they usually have?
Milo: Oh, everyone has an iPhone. Different types of iPhones.
Miranda: Remember when we went to the ranch with all the cousins a couple of years ago, and we had talked about how?
Milo: Yes, I remember.
Miranda: You have a bunch of cousins that have. Or iPods. And your favorite activity of the weekend was making TikTok videos with your cousins?
Milo: Well, yeah, we did dancing.
Miranda: You made tick-tock dancing videos.
Milo: Yeah. And it was, it was fun, but we only did it like when, like, like at like nighttime or like times that we w we didn’t have the opportunity to go like outside and like jump for like fish or something.
Miranda: Right. Yeah. It was a fun activity.
I remember thinking that’s, that is such a positive use of this app. And it was an isolated event, private counselor, private, you were using other people’s phones and other people’s, you know, but the parents were there. We were aware of it. We thought it was kind of cute and fun. And then we went home and that was it.
Like, it was like an isolated event of being able to use it in a specific way.
Milo: And that, that trip was awesome. One of my memories is that the reason that my uncles all call me the penguin now is because I caught a live fish and they sent me a hundred dollars that I wouldn’t take a bite of the fish as it was still alive.
Miranda: This is so gross. $50?
Milo: No, it was a hundred.
Miranda: you bit straight into the fish right after you pulled it out of the lake, he took a video of it. He showed everybody. No one knew what was coming.
Milo: And my mom was on top of the chair. Like, like, like the, like when you sit down and like that, they have your back, she was on top of the, yeah, it was gross.
Miranda: So, if you’re not dancing to tick-tock videos, you’re eating raw fish in the brush and brush your teeth to get the fish scales out goods. Okay. Here is another couple of questions.
How much do kids know about the negatives of social media?
Milo: Wait, that was a question?
Miranda: How much do you think kids your age teenagers understand about that?
I just read a bunch of research about the negative effects of social media, increasing your distractibility, your impulsivity, making your self-esteem lower, having it be harder to sleep. How do you think teenagers are aware of the negative effects of social media?
Milo: I think that, like, the reason that they might not know the negative effects is because they only know what it’s like to have it, so they might not know like what a positive effect they could have if they didn’t use it, like maybe like they would like to get more sleep or something like that, but they don’t know. Cause they’re so used to like staying up all night or like spending all their time.
Miranda: Do you ever talk about technology use at school? Like, is it addressed in any of your classes or anything talking about social media or talking about technology use?
Milo: teachers hate phones.
Milo: Like the school, like most adults don’t like phones. They have like a, like a no phone. You can’t have your phone out. I can’t have your phone out in school, but I guess like, I guess they got, they understand like that, you know, everybody has them. But but they ask you to keep them put away.
And they, they have like a three-strike method a day. Like if they got you on your phone three times, then you get like detention or something.
Do you or your friends ever wished for a time before cell phones or before the internet?
Miranda: I think that the crux of this question is do phones sometimes get in the way of you being able to interact.
Milo: I wish I’ve been, I don’t know. I wish that we were in a time before all of that. Cause it seems like, and seems like a lot more, it seemed like a lot more fun in the eighties.
Miranda: It was fun in the eighties.
Milo: And because you had turned out so great.
Miranda: I turned out well, thank you. Yeah. I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 16. And it was a flip phone, and it was cutting edge.
And then I, my first smartphone I got when Eliot was a baby, so. Yeah. Maybe when I was pregnant with Eliot. So, in 2011.
After you were born was the first time, I had a smartphone.
Miranda: So, I didn’t grow up with technology the way that you all are now.
Milo: Your job is a lot…
Miranda: Yeah. A lot of my job is using social media. I think that it’s interesting though.
We were talking about this on the way over here that one of the reasons that technology is tricky for kids and adults is because it’s built to be addictive, right?
And like you said, even adults, like don’t use it because it’s like, can I have a hard time using it appropriately?
Miranda: So, there is something out there called the attention economy that the makers of social media apps are. They make more money based on how long you stay engaged in their app.
Milo: This might have nothing to do with it. But I learned that like they have flat. It was like a Disney thing. Like where like the train has like, like the long enough time so, you don’t like, see, forget your buyer’s remorse.
Miranda: Oh, interesting. What was it like?
Milo: So, the idea is like the train to like to leave the park is like enough time that you don’t get that. Like your buyer buyer’s remorse goes away. So that by the time they see you feel good about your, all the money you spent.
Miranda: I think it is, it’s kind of tricky, but also important to recognize that so many of the things that are around us influencing us are based on money based on economy. And so social media apps, the developers do, you know, a lot of the developers don’t allow their own children to use the apps that they create the founders of apple.
Do you know that he didn’t want his children to have apple iPhones, the founders of Facebook at the tech developers for Facebook and for social media, they don’t allow their own kids and teens to use them? Do you know why you think that might be?
Milo: Well because they know how addictive they can be. Because if they know that like their accounts are going to be used for children, but they don’t have their own children. Yeah, it seems a little off.
Miranda: It does seem a little off, right?
Miranda: So, there is a there a law it’s called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. And it’s a law that prevents companies from collecting certain information from kids under 13.
All usage on those apps is limited by the companies. This is so Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, all those apps are supposed to be completely not allowed for kids under the age of 13.
But how do you sign up for a Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat account when you’re younger than 13, Milo?
Milo: You lie about your age.
Miranda: You just put a different, you just put a different year, right?
Milo,someone asked a question about what you use technology for and like what times during the day you need it. That could be computer phone TV.
What are you using technology for in your daily life?
Milo: I usually use it for communication and for playing specific things with my friends. I will, so it’s kind of like I have, whenever I get home from school, I take my phone off silent and they can just like text me if I want to do anything.
And the time that I will use technology is mostly to play with my friends. Like a lot of the time, I don’t like play like video games by myself or like, there’s not like as fun for me.
Yeah. So, yeah. I’m usually it’s always social for me.
Miranda: You are a hyper social kid.
Milo: Yeah, we really want to be engaged with other people a lot.
Miranda: And then your computer you use for schoolwork. Used for schoolwork research, making PowerPoint presentations about why you should have an iPhone, all sorts of things.
They’re fantastic. Yes.
Milo: Okay. PowerPoint. I mean seriously.
Miranda: One of the questions we got was how do I help my team be engaged in life and have a healthy balance of social media or screen time?
What do you think, how do you balance out having your technology use your screen time, but also being engaged in your life in your real life?
Milo: I think that what I do is I just, I don’t. Hmm, that’s a difficult question. Maybe. I don’t, I don’t use it. Like I’m only using it for like a specific. I don’t know.
Miranda: So, this is one of the benefits, like huge, huge benefits that we have found with the Gabb phone. It can’t really be addictive because there’s not really anything for you to do on it.
I mean, sometimes Milo listens to music and like, he likes to make videos, but he doesn’t have a constant feedback loop of social media in the palm of his hand.
Circles of Connection
So, some of the things that we do for our screen time, weekends, like Milo mentioned is that we have the kid’s kind of break up their screen time with making sure that their chores are done, that they spend time outside during the summer.
We usually have some check boxes of like; did you play outside for an hour? Did you read for an hour? Did you know, take a shower, and get dressed and yeah, we put it on their doors so that they have their list of things that they need to do before they use their screens. And then they can use screen time you know, up until they’re their limit. The rest of the day is spent engaged in family activities.
I think as an, as the parent, one of the things that I find helpful is that like my kids want to hang out and do fun things in real life. So, the more that I can help them engage in those things, like, Hey, let’s go on a family bike ride, or let’s go on a walk or we’re going to go camping this weekend.
Those activities naturally balance out some of the downtime of screens.
Milo: And, because I have like, I’ve taken care of a puppy. Yeah. So, it’s like a lot, a lot of things to do. And usually like when I’m like either I’m like playing outside and then like, they’re like, Hey, want to play some video games.
Then we just like play video games. And then like, after like, like again, it’s like, yeah, you kind of go back and forth.
Miranda: I think it helps to have real life friends to play with and to kind of facilitate those interactions. With, you know, planned play dates or spontaneous, like text your friends and have them come over and play in the backyard, play kickball.
Miranda: I just recently read a book that I really loved called Simplicity, Parenting. I don’t remember the author right now, but there was a part where he’s talking about this exact question, like the balancing of the negatives of screen time and kind of passive technology use with connection.
Four Types of Connection to Buffer Screen Time
He specifies for types of connection that can help buffer against the negative effects of social media and technology in our kids.
Connection to Nature
The first one is nature. There is so much research that shows that the amount of time that we spend outside connected to nature increases our wellbeing. It helps our heart rate go down. It helps our physical health. It helps our mental health. So being able to facilitate opportunities to spend time in nature as kids and adults is really.
Milo: So, another thing to add on to that is that I recently learned that like going outside can increase your serotonin, which can eventually like something must help you feel happy.
No, it turns into melatonin. Melatonin helps you go to bed, and it all starts serotonin. It helps you be happy. So, like more you go outside, the happier and more rested you are.
Miranda: Totally. I love that. Where did you learn that? Being outside just really benefits so much of our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Connection to Family
The second one is connection to family and those, those relationships are of course facilitated through time, spent together quality time, I think more than quantity, like quality sleep more than quantity sleep for sure. Yeah. What do you think? What are some of the ways that that our family has quality time connecting?
Miranda: Yeah. What do you like about our family dinners?
Milo: Oh, we’re always like, we don’t like, not, we’re never like eating like in our rooms or like on the couch, you know, we eat together as a family at night.
I get, we like to take the dogs on walks together and we’re starting to do that a little more.
Yeah, we go on, we like to go on family trips.
Miranda: We like to, we do family pizza night, which is like a big part of our family culture, and you know, kind of solidifies our family identity tonight culture.
Milo: Yeah, exactly.
Connection to Friends
Miranda: The number three is connection to friends in real life. So, we’ve been talking about that, talking about like, making sure that the interactions with friends aren’t just happening through social media, but they’re also happening in life.
Like social connections spending time in person taking some of the games offline into, you know, hanging out that is important to build that connection.
Connection to Self
And then probably the most important number four is connection to self. And like we talked about a little earlier, this idea of adolescents being a really important time for kids to develop a sense of self, a sense of identity.
To differentiate between their families, their parents, their siblings, and themselves, even their friends and themselves, the space that they need to do that doesn’t come by being engaged online, where they get everyone else’s feedback all the time, the space that they need to do that will come through.
Self-reflection through maybe journaling through being able to have some solo time, some solo, quiet time, maybe teaching some meditation engaging in spiritual practices as a family. I think that there’s a lot of kind of skill building and confidence building that comes through. Activities like solo activities.
Milo is likes to play the piano. He goes to piano lessons, and we’re talking about film school.
Miranda: He really loves filmography. So, we’ve investigated an engaging filmography camp that he could do this summer that would teach him skills and build confidence and, you know, help kind of solidify some of his identity as an artist and a filmmaker.
So, I think that this is such an important checklist to just think for each of our kiddos, how are they connecting to nature? How are they connecting to family? How are they connecting to friends in real life and how are they connecting to themselves?
And if we notice there’s places that we can booster or help kind of support these connections that the negative effects that they’ll receive from passive technology use will be buffered again.
Here’s another question for you.
How do you feel about parental phone use this?
Milo: Oh, that’s interesting. I don’t want to get any guys mad.
Miranda: As honest as you can.
Milo: Well, there’s like specific times. Like if, like, if my mom like, has just been like working like a story, she like, I try to like to stay away.
Sometimes he helpful with my I’m your producer?
Miranda: My creative director for my reels intern.
Milo: Yeah. Not, not paid.
Dad’s been doing a really good job at like, whenever I come into the room, he likes to just like put his phone away and just like pay attention to me, which is nice because he used to be a little different.
But now I don’t know. I feel like you guys are old enough that you can like that, you know, like when it’s appropriate for you guys to be on your phone.
So, I just kind of just trust your opinions.
Miranda: I think dad and I are both working on our own kind of social media limits as well, too.
Milo: Right. I’m like, who am I to tell you to like to get off your phone?
Miranda: Well, no, I think that’s a valid point then that, you know, at dinner time, during family time I try to not use my phone in the morning until after I’ve done all my morning routine.
If you want to check out the reels, check out the reels Milo’s in charge of So I think that, but like we mentioned, I mean, social media use and the addiction of like Twitter and the news cycles and all those things are as real for adults as they are for kids.
Milo: The difference is that adult with like news, like if kids like want to like get like the news, there’s like this awesome thing that CNN does, it’s called CNN 10.
And it’s like, its kid news, but it’s only in 10 minutes. And I happened to have it every day.
Miranda: It’s a podcast?
Milo: No, it’s, it’s on YouTube. So, you can, or it’s on their websites, you nintendo.com and they just do, they put like all the news happening that day, like in 10 minutes, but it’s like mentally appropriate, mentally appropriate.
Miranda: Did you learn about that at school?
Milo: Yeah, we do it like the last 10 minutes of history class. We watch it.
Miranda: That’s cool. Yeah. It’s awesome. I haven’t ever, I don’t think you’ve told me about that. That you are always up to date on the news though. And I’m always a little bit confused about how you know, so much.
Milo: That’s good news.
Miranda: We’ll link it in the show notes. That’s great.
Milo: So yeah, so to kind of come back around the circle on the host is awesome.
Miranda: That’s perfect. That’s great. That makes a difference, right?
I have noticed in the last few months, I’ve, I’ve been made a really concerted effort to be more intentional with my social media use.
And I can say without question that my quality of life is better when I use my phone less and I have been reluctant to jump back into just like full social media use because I feel so much more engaged in my real life.
When my social media, particularly Instagram, that’s the only social media I really use when that is.
Use, you know, kept to specific guidelines and limits for me. I feel better. So that’s why I haven’t been on Instagram as much lately.
There is the last couple of questions we want to do is we’re kind of wrapping it up.
There are a couple of questions about how to balance privacy with your kids and their phone use.
Do you read your kids text messages?
What do I call it? The audit.
Milo: the audit.
Miranda: So, we do random audits, random audits, Milo, as a teenager, and all our kids are 100% entitled to their privacy as humans.
This means that they can change, you know, obviously use the restroom, have their bedrooms safe and contained that they can make decisions for themselves about what they’re eating. And, you know, we have like these certain levels of privacy that are developmentally appropriate for our kids and technology.
Their phones, and when they have social media that as well, that is not included in the areas of their life, that they are entitled to privacy in our opinion.
Until they are older research suggests that parents who allow their kids to use technology and social media, that they be very aware of what is happening there that they’re able to get in unlock the devices, read text messages be able to go on Snapchat and look at what their kids are posting.
Go on Instagram, go on TikTok that we are aware of what is going out into the, the world into the worldwide web.
I have conversations about what you have in posting.
Milo: It’s very nice to be calm because it gets kind of like overwhelming when you feel bad about what you have done, you’ve made a mistake.
Yeah. And then feel bad about something.
Yeah. So even though it might like, feel like you need to like. Really like, like strict and like forward. And like, I don’t know. It, maybe you could say like, mean, it’s always nice to just go slow. Yeah. Be calm.
Miranda So, we do occasional Gabb phone audits where I’ll just ask Milo to show me his recent text messages and we can talk through them, the conversations.
I don’t like necessarily to read all of them, but if I see something concerning it’s led to great conversations about how you use even text messages for conversation.
What types of things do you say to your friends online that you might not say in person? Are you ever being unkind about someone else?
Milo: Like what you said about I think about like, when do you send this to your mom?
Miranda: Like, like if you were in a situation that like in the first day of setting. And that first one is your mom. Would you send it to your mom? Cause if you keep it like that, then you have nothing to worry and then you probably won’t get to me and, or to bullying or to inappropriate.
Miranda: So, yeah. That’s one of the guidelines or kind of the suggestions that we’ve given Milo is as you’re thinking about the way that you’re talking to your friends on text message, well, the things that you’re sharing.
The pictures you share think about it as if you were sending it to your mom, or just imagine that you’re copying your mom on every conversation that you have that can help you stay within your own personal integrity around what things you want to share and what things you think might be inappropriate.
It’s kind of a good gauge for that. Has that been helpful?
Miranda: We absolutely believe that our kids deserve some level of privacy and. As they’re growing and developing and still, you know, young brains that don’t have it all figured out. We believe that we still have a lot of help that we can offer and guidelines, small teenager brain.
We do conduct cell phone audits and I think it’s also a good thing. You know, even if, if Milo knows that his text messages could possibly be looked at, or the photos that he takes her sense could possibly be looked at by an adult, he’s much more likely to use that extra level of reasoning in sending it.
Milo: I can’t like you can’t go back and delete everything. That’s why they’re random audits. Oh, good. Okay. Well, that’s very honest.
Miranda: Yeah. So, it’s been a really good conversation builder if nothing else. Even though Milo doesn’t necessarily love when I say it’s time for a text message audit.
Milo: Or when you take it away from me at night.
Miranda: We also make sure that his cell phone isn’t in his room at night. It’s in our room and on the screen box, it, I think it builds it like overall, it’s going to build some resilience and some integrities were otherwise. It might be trickier.
So, I just understand that teenagers are young people they’re becoming independent, but they don’t have fully formed brains. They don’t know everything.
And, you know, even as adults, we don’t know everything yet. Another thing we talked about on the way here was about how one of my goals is to make following the family guidelines as simple as possible. So, Milo said, what if I got an iPhone, but I just didn’t have apps on it.
Milo: What if you got me an iPhone, but I didn’t use social media because they are just like more advanced phones, like yeah. Better, better, better pictures, better video.
Miranda: And what did I say? Milo?
I said, what if we had a family rule of not eating ice cream, but we filled the freezer with ice cream.
Milo: That’s way better than the way you put it. I think I said something about chocolate, but I was like, I would never eat frozen chocolate.
Miranda: So, imagine that ice cream is off limits for the kids. Yet our freezer is going to be always full of ice cream. Does that set you up for success?
No. It’s setting you up for failure.
Milo: But it also is. I feel like it’s also, you could think of it as a chance to test your willpower.
Miranda: That’s true, but when you are young and your brain is just developing, that’s not the time you want to test your willpower all the time in the freezer, the older that you get, the better your willpower and your reasoning is, and you, when you turned 16, you were allowed to have some ice cream.
And when you turn 18 and you go to go away to school or you move away, you get to choose. If you want to buy ice cream or not. If you want to keep it in the freezer, if you want to eat it straight out of the pint, that’s up to you.
So, we’ll spend a couple of years working on that right now. We’re working on the basics, developing just like an understanding of what is healthy and what is, in terms of your consumption, consumption of ice cream.
Then we’ll slowly work into it and do it at a, what I consider in your Dad consider, as in science shows is a developmentally appropriate level. We’re not afraid of social media. We think that it has some great benefits later.
Milo: Like how, like what are some?
Miranda: Being able to have self-expression, being able to use it for creation.
You love to make videos and it will be fun for you to be able to share videos. All those things we’d love to invite you to do when you’re not in this critical time of establishing your own identity. And basing your identity a lot on whatever your friends think.
Milo: And like what you said in the New York times, it just kind of changed like that.
Miranda: And I mean, sleep and impulsivity and you know, kids with anxiety and worry if you’re facing any of those mental health challenges, social media tends to be even more problematic.
I, therefore I say it totally depends on family. It totally depends on kids, your own ideas about it. And this is what we have decided in our family. And I think it’s working okay so far.
Milo tells us a little bit about the Mighty. This is one thing we’re trying to create some workarounds because Milo doesn’t have an iPhone. One thing that he really misses out on is what Spotify, Spotify music, Milo’s obsessed with music.
He’s always telling me new music. He makes great playlist and he’s kind of our DJ on road trips. So yeah, he’s, he’s making, writing his own songs. It’s really one of his, his skills and his interests.
Milo: And, and like you saw on the last episode, we are pretty good at beatboxing.
Miranda: Yeah, we did it pretty good. He talks at the end of the last episode.
So as his birthday was approaching and we were talking about what he might, like, one of the things he mentioned was this little, tiny device that’s used purely for it’s like a Spotify streaming.
What’s it called?
Milo: It’s like a mighty beat, mighty weight, mighty vibe, the mighty vibe.
Miranda: It’s a little tiny pocket-sized music player, almost like an ipod mini.
If those of you who are listening, remember the era of iPod many, they don’t even make them anymore, but it’s this little, tiny little, tiny music device and you do have to link it to a smart device. So, we have it connected to our family, iPad where my looking chooses the music set up playlist, but then he can listen.
And therefore, we got the Air Pods as well. He can listen to his own playlist and podcasts and things like that through the mighty vibe, without having to have a smartphone. And it doesn’t have a screen on it.
Milo: Yeah, it doesn’t have a screen. It’s just buttons. And it seems like it might be hard. Like how you were going to choose the music, but you can like switch songs easily and you can switch playlist. You can just like make different playlist and stuff. Awesome.
I listened a lot in Mexico.
Miranda: Yeah. When we went to our spring break trip, he listened to music all the time, vibing on the beach, the pina coladas.
Milo: I had like 17 piña coladas. Virgin.
Miranda: So, this is just to say there are some fun workarounds other products that are out there available for your teens when they’re pre smartphone, but you want to, you know, if they have specific things that they’re interested in, like Milo and music and Spotify and listening to podcasts and things like that, you can do that through different types of tech.
I think you can download music onto Gabb. It’s just not as, as simple.
And you can’t use Spotify specifically, which is where Milo likes to create his music lists. So that’s something that we’ve really liked.
Milo: You can put music onto the Gabb phone, but you must do like a bunch of different transfers.
So, this was the workaround that we used, and it’s been, it’s been great. Another thing I wanted to quickly mention was a couple years ago. I mean, for before Milo even had a Gabb phone and the kids had their watches, there is we got a technology program that’s meant for families.
It is called Get SMART. No, I just listened to my friend, Anna McFarlane on Instagram. If you go to www.familysocialguide.com, I’ll link it in the show notes. This is like it’s like 10 or $15, maybe $25.
I don’t know. It’s a very inexpensive program. That’s a PDF download and it helps you as a family work through some of the things you may want to think about as you’re introducing your kids to technology.
At the time that we first did it, I think we’re going to gear up and do it again. As we get ready for this summer, just to kind of help the kids have a full understanding of why we have limits around our screen time use. It’s not just for smartphones. It’s for screen time in general, the different types of technology that kids use or encounter.
It also addresses things like, what do you do if you see something that, you know, you’re not supposed to see or something that feels bad, if it’s scary, or if it’s, you know pornography or people being mean to other people online, what should you do this addresses, this is addresses, recognizing those red flags, telling an adult, you know, stopping what you’re watching and then being able to have a conversation about it.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s good to be someone that your kid can talk to and that’s like where you want to be.
Milo: Cause like, yeah, we talked about that a little bit in our last episode, right. About trying to maintain it’s like how important it is for like, it’s important for your kid to like talk to you, but like it’s like the most important thing is for them to know that they can talk to you and that you’re like someone that they want to talk to.
Miranda: Dave and I told Milo, sometimes when you talk to us, we automatically jumped to trying to fix things or giving you advice.
And he said that sometimes he wants to tell us about things that are going on and not have any commentary. Right?
Miranda: And so, we said, okay, this is great for us to know when you want to tell us about things that are happening in your life or thoughts that you’re having, and you don’t want us to respond.
You can say, Hey, mom and dad, I want to talk to you, but I don’t want you to talk back. Can you, can I just talk to you, and have you just listened? And we agreed that we would be happy to just listen and not give feedback and not give advice and not give support and not tell her opinion just to be there to listen.
And., I know that as an adult, that’s something that I often need. And I’ll tell Dave, I don’t need you to fix anything right now. I just want to tell you about this, about how I feel. And it was a good reminder that our kids also need that kind of ability to come to us and talk as a haven, a safe place without response, without judgment, without automatically being in trouble.
If we want our kids to share sensitive information with us, we need to be an open place that can receive that type of information without judgment.
Milo: That’s one of the most important things. Yeah.
Miranda: So that is maybe a good place to wrap up this this episode. Let me check and see if there’s any more questions we wanted to quickly answer.
What are the cool apps right now?
Milo: I don’t know, like, just like any apps.
Miranda? TikTok still cool?
Milo: Still cool. Yeah.
Miranda: Snapchat, cool?
Milo: Cool, cool. Yeah.
Milo: Yeah. Yeah.
Miranda: Do you have friends that use Instagram or it’s kind of like for the older messaging?
Milo: Oh, okay. Like you could follow someone on Instagram, but they don’t like you like follow people’s social media, but they don’t post anything.
Miranda: Interesting. What about Twitter?
Milo: No, no, we’re not using Twitter. I would, I would probably use Twitter.
Miranda: What about Facebook?
Miranda: Okay, great. Are there any other things that I don’t know about?
Milo: Like sorry to all the people that use Facebook, you are kind of outdated.
Miranda: Are there others that, that I’ve never even heard of. Those are all the ones that I know games. Oh yeah. Tell us about some of the video games that are caught right now.
Milo: Subway Surfers has always been cool.
Miranda: Oh, never heard of that.
Milo: You’ve never heard of subway surfers. Okay. Now you might be 80. Okay. Yeah, I don’t really. Yeah.
Miranda: Yeah. I don’t really, I don’t up on the apps right now because I’m up on the apps. Cause he doesn’t have a phone that the apps. So sorry about that. I’ll tell you in three years when he’s 16, he will let you know.
What is the greatest thing about being a teen?
Milo: Well, I’ve only been a teen for 24 hours. But the greatest thing is I like to say this a lot. You know, I’m going to say PG-13. You always say, remember the PG. Remember the PG.
Miranda: What does the PG stand for? That means that although Milo loves video, he loves making videos. He loves watching videos. He’s very into phone. Call them videos and film anymore.
Milo: I call them art.
Miranda: He calls them art. So, he has been looking forward to being 13 because of PG-13 movies and the door that, that unlocks for him. And I keep reminding him it does. You don’t have a free-for-all to PG-13 movies. The parental guidance still applies.
You still need to ask dad and I; we can preview it if we haven’t seen it yet. And we will, we still want it to be developmentally appropriate and have a net positive effect on your wellbeing.
Milo: What about 14? Because what are you going to do about TV 14?
Miranda: Oh, I don’t know.
Milo: No PG on the TV 14.
Miranda: Yeah, we try to in general be kind of on the up and up on what the kids are watching like Marvel movies. Yeah, I think they’re pretty good.
I think that we’re fairly laid back as parents. We’re very open about the different things that we want to talk about with the kids about taboo subjects.
Milo: I feel like everybody knows that that’s been listening to your podcast for a while. Knows how open you are. You said in some of your podcasts, right? We’d like to, we like to make sure we have open conversation with our kids, especially when it comes to taboo.
Miranda: Yeah. Taboo topics. We don’t want to be taboo at home. And so that open, yeah. That open line of communication has been positive. And I think that helps us just like have this tether of trust in our relationship that you trust us. We try to trust you. We, you know, and your siblings, we want to expect the best of you.
Milo: Another thing that I wanted to say that I was just thinking about is that like, like if something happens. Like going on a walk always has helped me, like with like a parent or something.
It’s always good to like, cause like when you’re on, like when you’re in, like in a room with like your parents, you’re like kind of like, you kind of feel trapped just saying like, if you get in trouble for something, like, if you like want to walk and you kind of talk about it, I feel like it’s a lot better.
Miranda: Just making sure. And I think that that’s the same for parents. Like if, as you’re navigating these teen relationships, hormones are high.
Milo: Your testing limits, sometimes being able to understand that you might need some space before you come back and have like a healthy conversation and that’s okay.
Yeah. I think that’s wise. Well, I feel like we must keep talking cause we’re like we’re 30 seconds from, let’s finish it out my low.
Why don’t you thank the people for listening.
Milo: I’m very thankful for all of you who are listening to? If you’re new to the podcast, make sure to subscribe. So, you don’t miss an episode and make sure to write a written review on iTunes that helps other people find the show, listen to it share this.
And that was great too. You can. You’re welcome to share this one with all your mom, friends who have teenagers or who are approaching teenagers.
Now, if you’re a teen, listen in, tell us what you think about teens and tech. Milo. Thank you so much for being here. I love you. You’re the best he’s waiting for the 60-minute mark. Bye!