Discover more from Mentoring Kids in a Connected World with Devorah Heitner
Remembering How To Play
And my take on the Surgeon General's report on kids and social media
In the last two weeks, I got to watch my 14-year-old run around outside with a bunch of other almost-finished eighth graders. Playing with Nerf guns, riding bikes, and general hilarity. Their cohort missed out on a lot of fun in the last three years due to the pandemic, and it fills me with joy when they get a little of it back.
Watching them reminds me that I need to find ways to play, too. Even with a new book coming out and a transition to high school looming on the horizon, play is crucial. Luckily, I can swim in Lake Michigan for at least 10-15 minutes without a wetsuit as of this week! That's my playtime right now, but I'm looking for more. You can check temperatures here if you are in the Midwest and thinking of a dip.
In addition to lake swimming, which I discovered because of the pandemic, I'm trying to remember other things I loved before this time. Before running my own business. Even way back...before becoming a parent.
Hanging out with friends in relaxed stretches is a big one. Brunches that didn't have ending times attached. Sitting by someone's backyard fire. Talking and laughing for so long at dinner in the college dining hall that we got thrown out.
As parents and educators, when we worry about social media or online gaming, it is easy to get concerned that these kids will lose out on that kind of unrestrained joy of just...hanging out. Together. In-person.
What does that report from the Surgeon General recommend?
The recent report from U.S. Surgeon General about teens and social media use has roused many journalists and subject matter experts to weigh in. When people ask me the question "Is social media bad for kids?" My answer is..."It depends."
I spoke to WTTW the other night about some of the nuances.
One thing I’m glad to see is that the report is advising parents on how to help.
The advice feels familiar to me–like I've been saying this for the last ten years. ;)
So many more parents will hear this now!
Maybe Dr. Murthy or some members of his team have read Screenwise--which is great news.
The Surgeon General's report says "Parents and caregivers can make plans in their households such as establishing tech-free zones that better foster in-person relationships. In Screenwise, I share some ideas about creating plugged and unplugged spaces in your homes.
Let me clarify that you don't need a big space for this! Just leaving the legos or musical instruments out where they can be seen and not hidden away in a closet can help them compete with the allure of Netflix and YouTube.
I'm also very glad to see the report emphasize the importance of sleep.
In summer, sleep schedules can get more relaxed, but it is still crucial to make sure our kids are getting sleep, even if the schedule shifts. If the report and other headlines (or even more importantly, if observing your kids is raising concerns) I have some suggestions you can try. As always, if kids seem to be in crisis, meeting with a mental health professional is never a bad idea.
Here are 7 ways parents can help if they’re worried that social media is harming your kids
*I focused on Instagram here, but you can use these same suggestions with SnapChat, Discord, TikTok, and more.
As a concerned parent of tweens and teens, you understand how tough it can be to navigate the tricky terrain of technology and its impact on your child's life.
My new video mini-course, Raising Tough Topics with Teens, tackles the questions that parents really want to address but hesitate to raise their hands and ask publicly.
How to even raise these issues with kids? None of us are exactly eager to chat with kids about pornography, for example. My short videos offer some tips and scripts for talking with kids about hard-to-bring-up topics like their digital interactions with "Frenemies," Exclusion, Mental + Emotional Health, Distressing News, "too much screen time" and Pornography.
You'll get the videos and transcripts along with sample scripts/conversation prompts to help guide your conversations. I'm hoping this $47 bundle is affordable, relevant, and empowering. If you are concerned about your child's mental health in an acute way, PLEASE go find a good therapist in your community. Nobody's internet course is a substitute for that!
Why is social media so addictive?
I love the premise of But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids from Vermont Public Radio. Kids send in questions about water slides, llamas, and how the world works! A great one to cue up for your next road trip.
For those who have asked me--"Can you talk to my kids?" try listening to this with them. In this episode, I answer the kid-submitted question:
Why is social media SO addictive?
We should talk about...
Our children's privacy, the internet, and more -- which is exactly what I do on this week's episode of the We Should Talk About That podcast. This was a great conversation about a complicated issue for all of us. I love their other episodes too, another podcast to add to your list.
Need more podcasts for your next road trip, workout, or lazy summer afternoon? Here is an eclectic list of some of my favorite podcasts for kids and parents. And a few non-parenting podcasts just for grownups, because we have other interests, too!
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