Posts in Communication
Have you or your teen ever been "ghosted?"
"The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. ... Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject's maturity and communication skills. .."

This happens with both teens and adults, I first heard of this practice when an adult friend told me about another friend who had simply stopped responding to emails, texts and phone calls. According to a Huffington post poll about 10 percent of Americans have "ghosted" someone to break up with them. Using avoidance as a coping skill is not new, but online communication has made that an easier way to deal with uncomfortable situations.

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Mental health issues on social media, who is talking?

The other day I was on a plane sitting next to a YouTube employee and we discussed that we both noticed that teens and young adults are posting more often about mental health issues. The woman told me that many famous YouTubers are talking about their own mental health challenges. For instance, YouTuber Lacie Green, talked about her own depression in this courageous video. The site The Mighty is also great resource.

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What is the right age to give your kids their own device?

Yesterday I was talking to a mom in San Francisco who saw Screenagers this fall and she told me that she was dissapointed that I gave Tessa a phone in the end. She had seen my struggle with the issue through the movie but was really hoping I wouldn't cave. This mom has a 14-year old and has been very resolute about not giving her daughter a phone. Her daughter takes the public bus around the city and walks all over town by herself but she doesn't have a phone. She asked me, "Why not just say 'no'?" 

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Family gatherings: Face-to-face or face-to-screen?

How comfortable are your kids talking to extended family and adult friends? One concern I often hear from parents is that they think screen time decreases face-to-face communication skills. I have not found any exceptional data around this issue. Families and friends will be together for the holidays and in these settings many kids and adults will gravitate towards their personal devices. When situations are uncomfortable or activity is slowed down this is accepted behavior these days. It upsets me when I see kids disappear into their screens when those special multigenerational opportunities for conversation are right in front of them.

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How much are your kids going on their cellphone at school?

NBC's Today Show ran a piece this week where 10th grade students at a school in Tumwater, Washington watched Screenagers and then had the chance to do a one-week digital detox and be filmed for TV. Only some kids agreed to do it and the results were unexpected. Watch this with your kids! My kids thought it was really well done.

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Who knows the family screen time rules?

When my daughter Tessa, who is in Screenagers, saw the completed film, I was shocked by one of her first reactions. She said, ”I didn't realize so many other kids are dealing with all this rule stuff like we are." Of course, she had been with me over the years as I was making the film, and yet somehow, she did not know how common it is for families to struggle with setting limits. She went on to tell me how rarely any of her friends talked about their rules around screen time. 

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Is there a time and a place you unplug each day? Each week?

With Thanksgiving this week, it is a good time to think about the various practices of “unplugging." 

To help find times to unplug, a good starting point is to think more about when our kids are not on screens during each day, rather than when they are on screens. From there it's easier to set guidelines around unplugging. I’ve heard about many creative approaches to unplugging:


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    Cellphones at school, what are the rules?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #32
    What is a phone's role at school?

    My daughter is in 9th grade in a junior high, and my son in the high school, and it seems every year they, and I, are not entirely clear on the rules at school around cellphones. Tessa tells me that one teacher has a zero tolerance policy. On the first day he told them that if he catches them with a phone, he will put it on his desk—In this first week, he has not confiscated one during her class.  Another “more chill” (in Tessa’s words) teacher says if you finish your work you can be on your phone. He added that there are “appropriate times to be on your phone and non-appropriate times.”  I’m eager to have a Tech Talk Tuesday tonight with my kids about how this is all working...the different rules, their desire to check their phones versus their need to pay attention, etc. 

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    Staying connected, then and now...

    Tech Talk Tuesday #30
    How do you contact your friends and family through technology?

    When I was young I saw the Truffaut film, Small Change, that made me want to be French. I started working at various jobs at 12 and by 16, I was able to pay my way to France for a summer to travel alone. Ok, why am I telling you this? Well, I remember trying to stay connected with people back home in Berkeley and spending a lot of time picking out postcards to send. I remember hoping the postcards would get home before I did—geez, did postcards to take forever back then, and even now they still take so long. I thought this would be a great conversation to have for Tech Talk Tuesday this week. Here are some questions to get the conversation going:

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    4 Tips for creating a screen-time contract for the new year

    Tech Talk Tuesday #29
    What’s your back-to-school screen time plan?

    As summer break nears its final days and I see the fall frenzy of school-and-everything-else schedules coming my way, I am preparing for the transition. As I envision the back-to-school scene for our family, I know we have a lot of adjustments to make to get ourselves into “fall mode”. Amidst considerations around supplies, extracurriculars, transportation, and meals is of course…managing screen time.

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    The new summer camp anxiety: Unplugging Angst

    Tech Talk Tuesday #23
    If you were to unplug for a week how do you think that would make you feel?

    This summer there are many opportunities for kids to be plugged in, but also many are getting the unique experience of unplugging because they are going to away to camps or in day camps that don't allow devices. There was a study done out of UCLA that shows that children who spend even 5 days without their devices, in tech-free camps, have restoration of the capacity for empathy.

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    Not all screen time is created equal

    Tech Talk Tuesday #21
    What are your go-to passive screen time distractions?

    If your child’s life has included a Minecraft phase, you know what I’m talking about. There’s the beginner level of the game that you play, walking from place to place collecting resources for survival, and there are the deeper levels, that can include creating entire neighborhoods to programming your own action sequences and building tools that you make available to other players.

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    “Mom, did you have to say that with my friends around?”

    Tech Talk Tuesday #14
    How do you enforce your rules on your children's friends?

    If you’ve tuned into Tech Talk Tuesday before, you might already know that in my family, we have decided that the car is a “screens-off” space for all of us. It works great when it’s just us in the car. We talk, we catch up, we sit quietly.

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    Followers, Friends, Fans — who’s who?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #13
    How do your online relationships compare to your real-life ones?

    Sometimes things happen in life that make you stop and take stock of who your “real” friends are. Like when I feel anxious and I call my friends to give me some moral support. If I need a hand with a ride somewhere for the kids, I call on my local parent crew. If I want to vent about the latest parenting issue, I might post on Facebook and get some reactions from my contacts around the world.

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    Vacation: time to unplug?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #11
    Do you unplug while on vacation?

    Throughout the country spring break has just finally come to a close. But, summer vacation is coming up. What will that mean for screen time in your life? I have some rules to help my family manage screen time while on vacation. We set times that we are all going to check in otherwise we try to disconnect. 

    I was recently in remote areas of Mexico with my family and it was both healing and at times distressing to be without cell service or a computer connection most of the time. I managed by setting expectations with the people I work with about when I would be able to check in and when I would be totally unavailable. 

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