Getting a phone is a huge step for a kid (and their parent!), and there’s a lot to figure out: what’s the right age to get one? How can we help them use it in a healthy way? Social media, or no? Emily’s been asking these questions herself since her sixth-grader Brady got his first phone a few weeks ago. And to get some advice, she’s turned to child and adolescent counselor Sissy Goff! Sissy’s a favorite around here (her episode on helping kids manage anxiety in Episode 30 is one of our most downloaded episodes ever), and this week she and Emily talk about how to help kids create a healthy relationship with technology. Sissy shares a ton of great info in this episode, including: how to build healthy boundaries around phones, which apps keep kids physically safe and mentally well when using their phones, and how to soothe hurt feelings when friends have tech privileges they don’t.
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“Your kids are going to mess up when it comes to technology. And we want to give them opportunities to do that when we can talk it through with them and help them pick up the pieces.” – Sissy Goff
“You really want to be aware of where kids are in their class. With kids and letting them get their first email address, definitely phone, definitely social media, you don't want to be the first in their whole grade. But I think you also don't want to be the last, because I think our job as grownups who love kids is to teach them to be responsible with technology use while they live under our roofs.” – Sissy Goff
“I feel like anytime we talk about technology, parents always feel like, ‘Oh no, I already messed that up.’ And the reality is, we're all learning this technology world together. And so at any point, I think as a parent, and even if your child helped pay for part of their first iPhone or their first iPad or whatever gadget, I think you can always go back and say, ‘As long as it's under my roof, I get to set the rules. And I didn't realize, and so we're going to back it up.’" – Sissy Goff
A Blessing for Your Week
As you navigate a new season of parenting, may you trust yourself and your kid to try your absolute best in this new phase. When your kid messes up, and they absolutely will, may you each learn from that moment—and give plenty of grace to each other too. And over time, as you loosen your grip little by little, I hope you watch your child grow in confidence and soar to big, new heights.
Simplicity Tip of the Week
Before I gave Brady his phone, I spent some time installing a few apps to create some boundaries around his phone. First, I installed Bark Technologies on his phone, which we’ve used on the kids’ iPads for a while—it’s parental control software that lets parents doing things like monitor content, manage screen time, filter websites, and so much more. We also installed Life360, which has super-advanced location sharing features, so we can see if Brady made it to school or practice okay.
If you’ve found apps to help that give you peace of mind and help your kid handle their tech responsibly, I’d LOVE to know what you use! Leave me a comment in the Instagram post for this episode, so we can all learn from your wisdom.
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