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Episode 36: Top Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-Driven World with Arlene Pellicane

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Brief summary of show:

With the Holiday Season right around the corner, our kids will likely receive a lot of tech-focused gifts.

This made me ask the question - how can I ensure my kids find balance between using technology and being present, in this Holiday Season and beyond?

My guest this week is Arlene Pellicane, who is a speaker, writer and has appeared on several media outlets like the Today Show, Wall Street Journal, Focus on the Family, Fox & Friends, TLC’s Home Made Simple, FamilyLife Today, and The 700 Club.

She is the host of the Happy Home podcast, is on the writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and Girlfriends in God.

Before becoming a speaker and author, Arlene served as a features reporter for The 700 Club and associate director for Turning Point with David Jeremiah.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • The science behind what happens physically and emotionally when our kids spend time on screens

  • Can you reverse the damage that’s already been done?

  • The three things kids can do to have healthier brains

  • The 5 A+ Emotional Relational skills for kids

  • How multitasking is overstimulating our brain and has a negative impact on cognitive development

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Resources mentioned in the episode:

Connect with Arlene

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Click here for Full transcript of episode:

Full transcript of episode: [00:00:00] Natalie: Are your kids spending a lot of time on screens? Well, I already know the answer for most parents, video games, social media, Tik, TOK, YouTube. We're getting real today with advice on how parents can deal with kids in a screen driven world. [00:00:13] [00:00:44] Natalie: Hi, everyone screen time. Can we, and should we avoid it as adults? [00:00:48] It can be difficult to regulate our screen time, but for kids. Oh boy. They don't know when to put it down. It's not uncommon for kids to spend countless hours in front of screens might be socially. It's probably video games, but in general, kids just aren't spending as much time outside socializing in those old fashioned ways with friends playing board games, you get the picture. [00:01:13] So here's the question. Is this really all bad? If you have opened that door to your younger kids pre-teens or teenagers, what can you, or maybe I should say, what should you do now? Today's guest has those answers. She is the author of nine books, including screened. Parents rising 31 days to becoming a happy mom and calm, cool, and connected a digital habits for more balanced life. [00:01:40] I've been looking forward to this conversation. Arlene is so knowledgeable. She has such a great way [00:01:45] of explaining all of these things we parents worry about. And, with a twelve-year-old Arlene, a boy, especially my first two girls, the screen [00:01:54] Arlene: thing is a big deal. I've got a 12 year old girl. I understand. [00:01:59] Natalie: So let's talk for scientifically. Yeah, I know. It's not good for my kids. I know it is yet. Everyone's doing it. It's everywhere they go. But let's talk about the science first, because I know you have all that information. What happens physically and emotionally when our kids spend time on [00:02:17] Arlene: screens. Yeah. So he really use, look at that brain and you know, they've done brain scans of kids who are, let's say video gaming 20 hours a week or more. [00:02:26] And they compare it to like a cocaine addicts and one on drugs and same parts of the brain. Lit up for addiction and pleasure and all those things. And so many times we, you know, we understand as parents like, okay, let's not give our kid a cigarette. Let's not give our kid alcohol. We get that right. But we'll give an iPad or a phone. [00:02:45] We don't think of it as a digital drug. But to understand that, wait a minute, these doctors are telling us that it acts like a stimulant that is. It's like a nicotine, like it's not that different. And so for us to understand that, okay, wait a minute. What is this thing? And when we say, well, you know, what's happening in the brain, that's a good question. [00:03:03] So they've done this study over, the national Institute of health. They're looking at 10,000 kids. It's called the ABCD study. And they're finding already that when kids are online, more than seven hours a day, which statistically that's, where are. That they're finding that they score less on language tests. [00:03:23] They score less on thinking tests. They have a premature thing of the cortex. That's the part of our five, where it processes the five senses. And so that's supposed to happen when people are old and here these young people, but think of it. That's the five senses. Like you don't taste as well. I see as well, you know, all those things. [00:03:41] Well, when you're on screens all the time, you're not tasting, you're not smelling like these things are being billed because they're not being used. And so I think what we have to understand is, wow, our child has this brain that's developing and as they use it, They'll get to keep it, but the parts that aren't used get pruned away. [00:04:01] So there's like another jump and brain group. The first one is from birth to two, the brain's going to triple in size. So that's why the pediatrician saying, you know, don't give your child a phone during that time. They need to, they need to develop, well, they get another jump at puberty funny, right? They get another jump. [00:04:16] And as Dr. Jay Gaetz talks about from UCLA, he was saying that it's a use it or lose it. Principle, like whatever neurons are being. Those are kept. So if your kid's doing sports academics, talking to people, friendships, that's going to be used. It's it's strengthened and whatever's not used gets pruned away, just like a tree, like the dead leaves. [00:04:36] If it's not being used, it gets pruned away. But if your kid is watching TV and being entertained all the time, then all the other stuff, the reading, all the other good stuff that gets pruned away. So it's the idea of using. That the brain cells that your child has in puberty. Those are going to carry through as for their adulthood. [00:04:54] And that's a huge reason to say to your child, wait a minute, you need to be doing more than just video gaming and social media. In fact, we've got a really less than that part of your life and increase other parts of your life that are going to make you much more healthy. So thinking your child's brain, you really are. [00:05:10] It's building, you're building a building. So do you want to. That's really intricate and detailed with lots of experiences. Or do you want this little shack? And the shack, all it's got inside is like popcorn, pizza, YouTube, and they're having fun in there, but that is a scary thought [00:05:27] Natalie: and know, I'm thinking like, I really don't want my son to live in a shack for the rest of his life. [00:05:33] Arlene: So to have that, that's why they live in our house. For the rest of their life. Cause they only have the shop and that's the truth. You don't live in the [00:05:40] Natalie: basement forever. Oh boy, that's huge. I want to go into the relational skills that kids need, but before we do that, can you reverse damage? That's already been done kids that are teenagers. [00:05:53] And they, you know, like we don't do electronics in their rooms. To me, that's a huge [00:05:57] Arlene: deal. And that is a, that's something to really stand on. You're going to help your child so much, if you will just keep that phone out there. And because simply sleep, if you just look from a sleep perspective that is worth it, [00:06:09] Natalie: but so many parents. [00:06:10] And, I can't say anything because I've made plenty of mistakes as a parent, but so many. Made the mistake or maybe they didn't know. And so they have the gaming in the room, they have their phones in the room and then it feels like, gosh, I'm punishing them and telling them they're bad if I take it all away because they've had it forever. [00:06:29] And they're like, what, what are you doing? Like, how do you go back? How do you back [00:06:33] Arlene: pass [00:06:35] Natalie: the mistakes? We didn't know. We were making, [00:06:37] Arlene: yes. That backpedaling definitely looks like an apology. You know, I'm sorry. I've learned these things. I've noticed these things in you. I made them. It's on me. I'm your parent. [00:06:48] I'm the one. This was to coach you and to guide you. And I made a mistake. I, you know, I kind of, my defense was down and an intruder came in and it's my fault. Right? So you're owning that. You're sorry. And from now on, this is what I'm going to do to protect your mind, your heart, your brain. Now, your kid's not going to love you. [00:07:05] Thank you. It right in that moment, I got to write that down. Protect your [00:07:08] Natalie: mind, your heart in this [00:07:09] Arlene: way. I love that, but I think even with. That child could thank you. And for sure, within years, that child could thank you. And you know, you could talk about, it's so simple there, that same study of these kids, they found, if the kids will just do three things, there'll be healthy. [00:07:25] They finding these are the healthiest kids and they just do these three things, two hours or less of amusing screen time. Nine to 11 hours of sleep. So that's what you're telling your child that you're pulling away the electronics. I want you to have nine to 11 hours of sleep and one hour of physical activity. [00:07:41] So if they will do these things as regular rhythms in their day, they're going to be better off than probably 70% of the population or more by just being healthy. And so you're really trying to teach your child, I'm doing this for your best. And even though it hurts in the short term, it's going to help you in the longterm. [00:07:57] And that's what we're parenting towards. Our kids don't have the, that long view. They just think you're ruining your life today and they don't see like, Hey, I'm trying to save your life tomorrow, buddy, but they will they'll get there. [00:08:08] Natalie: Yeah. And then not being afraid, which I totally guilty of this. I'm really going to make them mad and display them and say in 10, 20 years, It just doesn't matter. [00:08:19] I have to do what's right. And let them be mad at me. You have to parents let, we need to just say that Arlene right now, be the parent be that don't have to be popular, help be the parent, not the friend. It is so hard, but you absolutely have to do it. Yeah. So hard. Okay. Let's talk about those relational skills and those things that we're missing out on that we need to work on in a [00:08:42] Arlene: tech driven. [00:08:43] Yeah. So you know about the A-plus skills, the school, but in the book screen kids with Dr. Gary Chapman, we outlined five, eight plus emotional relational skills because we believe if your child will be re relationally really successful. That's what's gonna make them have a fulfilled, happy, satisfied, useful life is it's relationships. [00:09:05] So can they a have affection? Do they show and give love to others? A the second is appreciation. Are they grateful instead of. The third day is anger management. Can they control their anger, manage their anger? The fourth is apology. Do they know how to say I'm sorry? Or do they just say like she didn't and then the fifth one is attention. [00:09:28] Can they take their wandering attention, bring it all back and focus on whatever task is at hand. And you know, a lot of kids can't do that because they're used to what everything's fast, you know, think of Mr. Rogers, have your children watch Mr. Ron. Right. If they can watch it, you know, you're doing a good job because a lot of kids will be like, that's too boring. [00:09:47] I can't handle it. Cause it's just one camera talking slow. One person just looking at you, telling you a story talking, I mean, it's really glorious, to be honest, you feel relaxed just watching it, but what is, what is it now like today? Everything change of color, change of pace. Everything's fast, it's blowing up. [00:10:05] So kids are so used to that constant dopamine, that constant everything changing. And because of that, that's why kids are having such a hard time paying attention to you. Cool. Yep. Sitting through anything that they're just like, this is not a museum I'm out and that's going to lead to a lot of problems. [00:10:25] It was in their life. I'm going to, [00:10:26] Natalie: I'm going to tell you something personal like this, because I know. And I talk about that this a lot on this podcast that we. And our kids, we might not think they're paying attention, but they are most certainly paying attention to everything we do. And personally, as a TV anchor for many years, yeah, I was a master at multitasking. [00:10:46] At least I thought I was for my morning show. I counted one time because my brain felt like. So many different places because I was anchoring the news. So I was looking into a TV camera. I had a teleprompter, I had a producer in my ear talking to me while I was talking. I had a computer with my scripts. [00:11:04] I had an iPad with my scripts. I had my phone with texts and social media, and I had TV monitors all around [00:11:10] Arlene: me. I feel like relaxed, just stressed. [00:11:14] Natalie: And that was for four and a half hours every day. I would kind of pride myself in, I can do so many things at the same time. This is really great, but I, when I retired, I realized more than ever how my brain was conditioned for that and how terrible it was. [00:11:31] So if Mr. Rogers can. I had to have a computer and a phone and I can watch Mr. Rogers while I'm catching up on an email and how terrible that was for me personally and how I was modeling that to my kids. That's the part that woke me up. Wow. I don't want my kids to be as stressed all the time as I have learned to be as a TV anchor. [00:11:56] Arlene: Wow. So, yeah. And there's a Matthew Killingsworth I think it, I think he's at Harvard. He had the study of the wandering mind, just how much you're thinking about something else when you're in the present. And he was saying like 40. So 50% of people are like this because they're always thinking, cause we're so used to thinking of all these things, like you're talking about teleprompter over here, iPad over here. [00:12:16] So you're used to going all these places. So when that hurts us is when we're with our child with a spouse and they say, you're not listening. You're not all here. It's because we're so used to this wandering mind or mind being in a million places. And we think we're being so productive when actually it's undermining like maybe our most important. [00:12:35] Natalie: And there's a reconditioning that can happen. And if you are one of those parents, for those listening or watching who does this and you know, you do it or your kids do it and you want to help them, what advice would you have for them? In reconditioning and [00:12:52] Arlene: I'll give you a something super easy and then some were super challenging. [00:12:56] Okay. So the super easy thing is called the pivot. And this is just the idea that when you are on your phone, computer, laptop, whatever, and a human being enters, your airspace, that you will pivot away. From your device, look at the person and greet them and give them your eye contact and you with your body. [00:13:14] You're telling that person you are more important than my phone. So it's really like, just do an experiment where you're just looking down at your phone and you're talking to all your kids and your husband and whoever, but now do it different where you're communicating the exact same things, but you're actually looking at them. [00:13:29] It feels completely different. So train yourself. When someone comes in, I will, I will just like a reaction. Like someone's like put a gun to my back, like look away from your computer like that quick and just look away from that computer screen. From that phone, look at the person. How was your day what's going on? [00:13:48] How can I help you? It's exact same time, but it's a totally different posture. That says you're important to me, this thing on my phone, on my computer can wait, let me know what you need. And, and, you know, you can say to your child that, Hey, I got, I need 10 more minutes to finish up this email. And then tell me more about your day. [00:14:05] That's fine. But when you say it to them, you're looking at them. So it's a very easy reconditioning of, I'm not just going to be caught looking at my phone when I'm communicating. With my kids or with my spouse or whoever, my friend, anybody, anybody. And then the longer answer would be something like Dr. [00:14:22] Victoria Dunkley suggest a screen reset. If you feel like has it too late, have, have we just done too much? You know, is my child too addicted? And you can kind of look at a scale of casual at risk addicted, the casual person, they play a game on the weekend. They don't even talk about. And they don't even care if they play next weekend. [00:14:41] Casual, don't worry about it. You're at risk person. They play on the weekend, but every day they're asking, could I play today? Could I hold them? We're going to do the weekend. And every day, can we play that's at risk? And you know, like this is going to be a big deal to this person. If I say yes. And then of course you're addicted as well. [00:14:58] We're, it's wrecking all sorts of other things. All of a sudden, you're not involved in sports anymore. You don't come to dinner on time. You know, your homework, your grades are slipping and you realize this is wrecking. So you, you have that continuum. So not every child's going to react the same way, but if you find like my kids are in trouble, like they're addicted, they are at risk. [00:15:17] We are in trouble. Then you can do what Victoria Dunkley suggests, which is a four week. Where you literally say, we're going to cut like a juice cleanse. Like we're going to go yeah. Out of our system and you will honestly see results. She has testimony after testimony of like my goodness, my kids started sleeping again. [00:15:36] Their mood changes went away. They weren't so angry. They started paying attention in school. Their grades started going up. And, and the thing about this is there's no cost. There's no risk. You know, it's not like taking a trial medicine or something to fix your child. There's no risk. There's nothing bad's going to happen. [00:15:51] They're just gonna be mad at you and you can deal with attitudes. That's okay. Yep. So you can reverse things. It's not too late, as long as kids are under your roof, but the younger, your children are the easier it is. So there's no easier time than today to say like, I'm going to make this change. Wow. [00:16:10] Natalie: Whoa, that's a, that's a good one. [00:16:12] I am very encouraging. Well, I want to encourage people to get more information from you because your book is fabulous. I want everyone to know that within the five at different relational skills, there are some details there that kids are missing. If they are into tech more than. You think they should be. [00:16:31] And those are really, really big. And, um, and you'll get those in the books. So where can people get more information or that [00:16:38] Arlene: definitely everything you've done is screen kids. And we also have a companion put grandparents. They screen kids. You can get that wherever you buy books, Amazon, et cetera. You can look at my website, happy home [00:16:50] You can take a quiz. Is my child getting too much screen time, happy home I also have a masterclass where you for one month, you and I are going to. And it's a five to 10 minute video each day where I'm giving you instructions. I'm educating you. We're talking about the truth about tech, where we go more in depth on the A-plus skills. [00:17:09] We help you restart your home. So that's the screen kids and also have the happy home. Awesome. [00:17:17] Natalie: So much love your podcast by the way, too. And everything. Thanks so much for having me on your family and what you stand for. And you're just a beautiful person and I know your kids are, and I just, I really appreciate you some thank you so much. [00:17:29] Thank you so much. Okay. We'll talk again soon.

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