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Episode 124. Parenting Generation Screen: Guiding Your Kids to Be Wise in a Digital World with Jonathan McKee

Episode 124

We gotta talk to our kids. We have to equip them to make good decisions and we have to teach them truths so they recognize lies.

Screen time, phones, tablets, computers…online predators, rule breaking, off the charts average daily screen times…parenting this generation of screen obsessed kids is so stressful.

Most parents know that too much screen time, especially social media, is unhealthy for kids, but they don’t know how to set wise limits and teach their kids the “why” behind the rules. Today’s guest Jonathan McKee has over 20+ years of experience with youth ministry and family research that has taught him that parents need to connect with their kids just as much as they correct their kids. In his latest book Parenting Generation Screen: Guiding Your Kids to Be Wise in a Digital World, he offers insights that show us that safe, loving conversations about screen use that will set kids up for a lifetime of good decisions and habits. But how do we do that? Where do we start? Don’t worry, Jonathan covers aaaaaaaaaall things parenting and screens today. And if it’s not in this episode (we talk about A LOT!), you’ll probably find it in his book.

Jonathan’s Bio: Jonathan McKee is the author of more than twenty-five books, including Teen’s Guide to Face-to-Face Connections in a Screen-to-Screen World; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon bestseller – The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for moms and dads on his website He draws from more than twenty years of experience working with teenagers, studying and writing about youth culture and the influence of digital media, and raising three kids with more devices than they can count! In 2018 Focus on the Family aired a broadcast of Jonathan McKee talking about helping our kids learn “wise posting in a digital world,” and plugging his book to teenagers, The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices. The show was one of the top broadcasts of 2018.

In this episode Jonathan & I talk about:

  • The value of a person being a “neutral third party”
  • What is the most common screen concern or story parents share with Jonathan
  • Kids sneaking out
  • Kids meeting people online who turn out to be not who they said they were
  • Kids sharing nudes that end up circulating at schools
  • Kids are being asked to make adult decisions online (often without guidance)
  • Opening pathways of conversations with our kids that are meaningful
  • The thing kids share with Jonathan the most: “my parents have no idea what I’m doing online”
  • Kids ask Jonathan most about sex and screens
  • Equipping our kids to make good decisions
  • Parental controls only work with connection and conversations
  • The two extremes of parenting approaches to screens that don’t work
  • The “No devices in the bedroom” rule
  • Avoid “because I said so” –the why is more important than the boundary
  • Showing up in a respectful way
  • Being “lazy” in our parenting approaches—we know when we’re tired or unsure as parents…perhaps it is better to find a way to admit when those moments happen instead of defaulting to lazy
  • We don’t have to have all the answers all the time
  • The internet being like the “red light district”
  • Finding remedies that involve open communication
  • “I don’t know…let’s check it out together”
  • Common Sense Media
  • The power of the pause before making discipline or parenting decisions
  • Reassuring our kids that we love them regardless of what they do
  • Giving our kids and ourselves time to think
  • Understanding that our kids are going to break our rules—and we can prepare ourselves for those moments that are going to happen
  • Being our kid’s defense attorney
  • Jonathan’s steps for approaching how we parent when our kids do break our rules
  • Listening instead of lecturing—helping our kids feel heard
  • Kids feel like their parents don’t listen
  • “Nevertheless…”
  • How societal messaging encourages us to be shocked rather than prepared
  • The fib where we make it about us as parents: “I never raised you like that!”
  • Teasing over technology
  • Realizing what it’s like to be a kid today and show up with compassion
  • How to have tough conversations
  • 89% of teenagers have smart phones. 79% of those teens bring their phone into their bedroom every night
  • Medical guidance that tells us to not have devices in the bedroom
  • Online predators
  • Covid being the perfect storm for screen time increase and consequences
  • Self-esteem in kids has never been lower
  • Now we have an overwhelming majority of kids who want to be social media influencers (8 out of 10)
  • Making accounts private vs. public
  • What’s appropriate to share with our kids when (is it age based or personality based)
  • Parents need to be ready for when the conversations need to happen and part of that comes from noticing our child’s world
  • Dangers of online gaming and chats
  • Teaching our children takes work
  • Telling our children the truth when they come to us and have questions
  • Showing up present and being in the moment
  • How the amount of time we spend on our screens affects our health
  • Average time kids spend on screens
  • Average time adults spend on screens
  • Not all screen time is created equal
  • Too much of anything is not good
  • How girls are more negatively affected by social media
  • His other resources and books to help parents navigate parenting in a modern world

Jonathan’s Links: Website and Facebook

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