Articles Podcast

Thriving with Technology Podcast: Give Your Kids A Screen Free Summer with Jennifer Sitterud! Spoiler Alert: They'll LOVE it!

Available here too:

              

Give Your Kids A Screen Free Summer! Spoiler Alert: They'll LOVE it!

If you've got kids and you've ever struggled with how to regulate their time online and more importantly, maintain a nice relationship with them, you're in for a real treat.

Jennifer Sitterud is a brilliant mom I came across on Instagram. You can see her gorgeous family here. She posted something like, "Okay, we're logging off now. It's time for screen-free summer." And I thought, wow, really? What? How do you do that? So, I knew as we got into the thick of summer, it would be great to talk to Jen about how she actually does it and how she keeps the kids occupied and engaged. So, you can find a really fun, easy, practical discussion that shows you that you can make screen time free summers work for you, even if it's a screen-free summer week and build better relationships with your kids at the same time.

Jenn has some amazing FREE downloads to help you plan your screen free time here:  Screen Free Summer Printables

A couple of other fun solutions from the Tech Wellness team:  Our BIG TIME Tech Timekeeper.  This very fun old school timer puts an element of fun into any activity and it when the kids are online, it shows them how much time they have left.  It's our best cure for continuous scrolling and helps everyone achieve optimum focus!  

And before you leave on vacation this year, don't forget to check out our newly updated WiFi-free Games for Kids.  Lots of things to do without being connected to the internet. 

I hope you enjoy the episode.  If you find what we're doing useful, please like us on the iTunes Store and share the message with your family and friends.  And of course for more information, visit us anytime at Tech Wellness.

Be Well!

August Brice 

Here's the full transcript of the podcast: 

Jennifer Sitterud:

So, when we first start, they definitely complain and they kind of like, "Mom, why are we doing this?" And within the first few weeks of us going screen-free, I know this sounds crazy, but they really get along better because they have those opportunities to play with each other, to imagine things, to create, and they're not just in front of a screen. Because I feel like a lot of times the screens cause fighting with, "What are we going to watch? And I want to watch this." And when we eliminate that, they really learn how to play together, how to problem solve. And so, they get along better, which sounds crazy to a lot, but it really is true. And it's so much fun.

August Brice:

Welcome to the Thriving With Technology podcast from techwellness.com. I'm August Brice and today, if you've got kids and you've ever struggled with how to regulate their time online and more importantly, maintain a nice relationship with them, you're in for a real treat. Jennifer Sitterud is a brilliant mom I came across on Instagram. She posted something like, "Okay, we're logging off now. It's time for screen-free summer." And I thought, wow, really? What? How do you do that? So, I knew as we got into the thick of summer, it would be great to talk to Jen about how she actually does it and how she keeps the kids occupied and engaged. So, you can find a really fun, easy, practical discussion that shows you that you can make screen time free summers work for you, even if it's a screen-free summer week and build better relationships with your kids at the same time.

August Brice:

So, if this is your first listen, let me take a second to tell you about Tech Wellness and why we're here. Tech Wellness is a platform that helps everyone maintain a balanced relationship with the tech we all love, mind, body, soul, privacy. I started after discovering that I was sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies or EMFs. And as I researched and I learned and was able to help myself, I realized that we all need answers and solutions about not only EMF, but also about online privacy, blue light from our screens, overuse and addiction, and creating a healthy digital home. So, please visit Tech Wellness and join us on the journey. We hope you'll follow the podcast and it would be so, so nice, it would mean so much to me if you would give us a rating on Apple Podcasts because it helps them help us spread the word.

August Brice:

So, now, let me introduce you to a really cool mom, Jennifer Sitterud and how to create a screen free summer for your kids. Okay. So, this is Jennifer Sitterud, who goes by Jen and I am so thrilled to be talking to you. This is something that I found you on Instagram. And I saw you made an announcement, "Okay, we're going offline for the summer." And I thought, what? Going offline for the summer. I had to talk to you. How do you go offline for the summer with five kids?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes, I am so glad you reached out. I get that a lot like, how do you do this? We started when they were younger and it was so much fun and we had the best summer. So, I'm like, we need to do this every summer.

August Brice:

Okay, so first of all, you got five kids, ages?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah. So, my oldest is going to be 15, which is so wild, 15, and then I have a daughter, she's going to be 13, a son that's 10, another girl that is eight and a little guy that's five.

August Brice:

And let me tell you, if you haven't followed Tutus and Jerseys, you absolutely have to because Jen has the most beautiful family. They should be modeling for J Crew or something. It's beautiful, beautiful family.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Thank you.

August Brice:

Really fun to follow. So, you decided when the youngest was, well, it must've been when he was just bored, right?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. Well, so it was actually, I was pregnant with my last, my fifth. And in the thick of it, young kids, I was pregnant and I get pretty sick the first trimester. And so, I felt like the screens were my babysitter. My kids were in front of the screens a lot. It was survival mode. And once I started feeling better, I thought, you know what? We need a screen break. We need to get in the outdoors, and I tell my kids all the time, that's how I grew up. We grew up outside exploring, creating, and I have some wonderful childhood memory. So, I want to incorporate that with my kids. So, we started that summer, screen-free summer.

August Brice:

What does that mean exactly?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. So, we've had to adjust it throughout the summer. Each summer, we get a little bit better and the kids give their opinions of what they want. So, it's not a 100% screen-free. So, Monday through Friday, there's no screens. Then Friday night, they get to reward themselves with screen time and then Saturday night as well, they get to have screen time. So, I feel like it's a good balance. We have activities throughout the weekdays, come weekends, they get to just watch and do whatever they want as far as screens go. You asked me about my oldest. He got a phone last year.

August Brice:

14, he got his first phone.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. I know that is so shocking to a lot of people and it may change with the younger ones, but with my oldest, I really wanted to wait as long as possible. I went to seminars about screens and the dangers of it and the things that kids experience through screens with a lot of anxiety, depression, and the things that they're exposed to. So, I really wanted to wait as long as possible. So, yeah, he got it a month before he turned 14. Last summer we went, he did the screen-free weekdays and then he got to, on the weekends, text and call his friends and hang out, that way to communicate.

August Brice:

So, this is a great example of someone who never had a screen and never had a phone, now he does. What does he think? So, this was his first year of having a phone and then not having it all summer long.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. So, he got it last summer or a month before summer started. And so, it was good because he wasn't in the habit of it, of having a phone. I'm a little like, "Okay, I wonder how this summer is going to go?" You know?

August Brice:

Exactly, yeah.

Jennifer Sitterud:

And so, we're going to have, in the next couple weeks, have conversations like, "Hey, what do you feel like doing?" We've done this for six, I think seven summers. What do you feel like you can do to still engage in screen-free summers?

August Brice:

Well, I know I want to go through every single day, all the little things that you have planned and all the fun that you have, but first I really do want to talk about you. Do you actually go through the summer without a screen yourself? Does that mean you don't use your phone?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Okay. So, yeah, I get asked that question a lot. So, I don't. The first summer I had to delete all my social media apps. So, I wasn't tempted because I thought, you know what? As a mother, if I want my kids to do this, I need to do this as well and I would like to break some habits. You don't realize it is very habit forming. And so, yeah, I deleted all the social media. I had my phone for calls and texts, but that was it, and so, that's been every summer. I will delete all my social media apps and just keep it for calls and text.

August Brice:

How does that feel? So, how many apps do you have?

Jennifer Sitterud:

You know what, it's so funny, I've never really been a Facebook person. I have Instagram and Pinterest, and so that goes.

August Brice:

So, just at the door, turn it off, grab your phone. So, you don't read the news on your phone. So, how does that feel after about two weeks?

Jennifer Sitterud:

I tell everyone, I say, get through with kids and especially because my husband also takes part in it as well, which is so awesome. Get through that first week. It is hard, everyone gets a little more cranky and you're breaking these habits, but you get through that first week and you start that next week, it feels so good. By the second, third weekend I get out of the habit of checking my phone. I don't feel the need to check my phone or I'm more present, I feel like. I feel like I'm more present in what is going on with my family and things that we're doing. And I love it. It's such a freeing feeling.

August Brice:

Isn't it? Guess, I unplug every day for a couple of hours and I don't know, I feel so independent. I feel free. I feel like my life is my life and it doesn't belong to anybody else for those two hours, and I feel powerful. So, but I imagine for you not going to social media at all, I would love to know how it feels when you're having this amazing time with the family, and you're in an idyllic situation, and you just want to grab the phone and take pictures and post them.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. So, when I first started, I wasn't really in the habit of Instagram. And through the years, I'm more in like taking videos and pictures of the kids all the time. And so, there will be moments where I'm like, "Oh," and then I'm like, "You know what? No, we're just going to be present." And I saw this picture a few years ago and it just rang true. And I picture all the time, it's this elderly lady in a group of people and all these people have their phones up and she's just sitting there, no phones and just watching with a smile on her face. And I thought that is awesome. She's just in the moment, just present in the moment, enjoying that moment.

August Brice:

Have the kids talked to you about it? Have they said, "Mom, this is stupid," or on any particular day that they said this is the best thing ever? Especially the older one, is he old enough to understand what's happening when he's unlike anybody else? The whole family is doing something. I'm sure you guys go places and you don't have your phones.

Jennifer Sitterud:

So, when we first start, they definitely complain. And they kind of like, "Mom, why are we doing this?" And within the first few weeks of us going screen-free, I know this sounds crazy, but they really get along better because they have those opportunities to play with each other, to imagine things, to create, and they're not just in front of a screen. Because I feel like a lot of times the screens cause fighting with, "What are we going to watch? And I want to watch this." And when we eliminate that, they really learn how to play together, how to problem solve. And so, they get along better, which sounds crazy to a lot, but it really is true, and it's so much fun.

August Brice:

That is so good because one of the first studies that I remember writing about was the study from UCLA, where they noticed that the kids were losing all their empathy skills. And so, these people just started... The kids just didn't care about each other. And so, they took the kids camping for a week without their screens and they found that that came back very strong very quickly. So, I think like you're saying, it might be the empathy, but then you...

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:11:04]

August Brice:

... Quickly. So, I think, like you're saying, it might be the empathy. But then, you also said how they might argue over screens. And then, there's that whole idea of screen snubbing where they might be in a conversation with each other or playing a game or something, and somebody picks up their phone or looks at the screen over there.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. See. And it's super important for me to teach my kids to be able to communicate with kids their age and adults and look them in the eyes. And I think that's really important for them to learn that, because I feel like we're really losing that connection with each other.

August Brice:

No. You're absolutely right. There are studies about that as well, that that's going out the door because we're not showing them how to connect. We're not talking to them about the importance. And a lot of times we're not modeling it.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah.

August Brice:

And we're in a conversation with a girlfriend or a husband or something, and we can pick up a screen right in the middle of it, get a notification and boom. And so, the kids see that. So, tell me about what you've noticed in your kids as far as being able to connect with adults and other kids.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Well, and I've had a lot of friends mention, "Your kids, they're confident kids and they can carry on a conversation." And not all the time, but there will be moments when I feel like that, removing the screens so they have opportunities to communicate with adults and with kids on a daily basis and get that practice. It really helps them be more confident in their relationships and who they are.

August Brice:

And at this age though, especially like you were talking about with your 15 year old now, is he feeling a little left out from the crowd because he doesn't have access to his phone? Or can you foresee that happening this next summer?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah. So, last year... well, so he started seventh grade and didn't get his phone until the end of seventh grade. That's junior high here. He started junior high now. And there were moments when he would come home and like, "Mom, I don't know what's going on." And I felt bad for... and I kind of talked to him and I said, "Hey, like give them my cell phone and have them reach out, or you get their numbers, reach out. And just kind of explained the importance of, "Logan, I'm doing this because I feel like this is for your best interest to go as long as possible because phones are so habit forming. And I want you to be able to, when you have your phone, know that it's a tool for good uses, and not get into bad habits with the phone."

August Brice:

Right.

Jennifer Sitterud:

[Crosstalk 00:13:46].

August Brice:

I absolutely agree. And I understand everything you do. I'm wondering though how the other kids... does he know how the other kids perceive him? Because he was probably one of the last kids to get a phone. Right? What's the average age at his school for kids to have their own phone?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Like between ten and I think ten, 11 usually. Yeah.

August Brice:

And so-

Jennifer Sitterud:

We have friends that have even eight year olds and stuff. And it is. My kids, they want... the older ones. Now Logan has one, but my older daughter, I wonder more for her because it's different with girls. They're on their phones constantly. And so, I wonder what's going to happen with that. So, but just reiterating to them the importance of it. And, yeah, Logan, he understood that, so.

August Brice:

Do you think he had competence and pride because he didn't have a phone? Could you go that far?

Jennifer Sitterud:

I really do. I really think so. Because he did. There wasn't any distractions for him, as a phone, it can be really distracting. So, I feel like it... yeah. I feel like it did.

August Brice:

Wouldn't it be great to turn it around and you're a super cool if you don't have a phone?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. Yes. And like... yeah. And, when I went to seminars... and I don't know if you heard of Collin Kartchner. He has since passed last fall. He did a lot of seminars on this very thing, of not giving kids smartphones. Saving the kids. Looking kids in the eyes. Parents especially not being distracted with cell phones. Giving eight second hugs. Like all of those scenes. And, yeah. And he was trying to have that movement of not having a smartphone is the cool thing to do. And there were tons of kids that reached out to him that said, "I was really anxiety filled. I was really in a dark place. And I deleted my Snapchat, my TikTok, and all of this. And I feel so much better."

August Brice:

Yeah. It's empowering. And there's a great study that talks about... it's young adults who just get to college. And they do research and find out that they're depressed, lonely, and anxious. And they realize that, if they can limit their social media to a half an hour a day, their entire world changes. They become more confident and more peaceful and feel better about themselves and feel like life is more of a joy. So, that's actually in a steady, so. And they don't do that until they get to college, which is interesting.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah. Yeah.

August Brice:

That somehow you're sucked into it when you're in high school and you can't get away from it because everybody has one. And that's how everyone communicates with each other.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, and I feel like too, they're still developing their brain. And so, it's so important that we kind of limit the screen time so they can really learn how to use it for good, because it is. It's habit forming. And I'm really passionate about the brain.

August Brice:

Good for you. Absolutely. And, with Logan, have you been able to... just tell us. So, he gets his first phone.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah.

August Brice:

And do you go through social media with him? Do you just hand it to him and say, "Choose whatever you want?" Like how did you help him with his relationship with his phone?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah. So, my husband kind of wrote up a little contract of this is kind of rules of our house. This is kind of the guidelines we'd love for you to follow because we feel like this is safety rules to keep. So, we gave him his phone. We downloaded the iPACT, which is great for parents.

August Brice:

Yes.

Jennifer Sitterud:

You can limit the apps and the time limit, who is calling.

August Brice:

Yes.

Jennifer Sitterud:

And, yeah. So, he doesn't have social media though.

August Brice:

Okay. When will he get social media?

Jennifer Sitterud:

We're thinking 16, when he gets in high school. So, we were hoping later, but I think that's probably when he'll get it.

August Brice:

I really admire you, Jen. I think it's, in this day and age to have the confidence to do that and to have that great relationship with your kids and to help them have great relationships with each other. And so, I'd love to know, and I know everyone wants to know, "What do you do every day when the kids don't have their screens?" Just walk us through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, because it actually sounds like a fun summer camp.

Jennifer Sitterud:

It really is. And it really is so fun. And summers have become like our greatest like just memory making. So, on Mondays, the theme is make something Monday. So, we make cookies, or they make Play-Doh, or some science experiment. It's all centered around making something.

August Brice:

Cool.

Jennifer Sitterud:

And also, what I tell them kind of before we start is, "I don't want to make more work for mom. Mom's life is hard." And so, I want them to be in charge and them to think of things to do. So, Mondays make something Monday. Tuesday is take a trip Tuesday. So, we'll take a trip somewhere. And it doesn't even have to be some like paying something. We can go to like a museum, a dinosaur museum. Or they love to go get snow cones in the summer, of course. So, we'll take a trip to go get snow cones or take a trip... just, yeah. Just anything really. That's kind of what our Tuesdays look like.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Wednesdays is wet and wild Wednesday. So, that is swimming pool, or sprinklers, water balloons, anything centered around water. Thursday is thinking Thursday. So, that is actually where we'll either go to the library, they'll do science experiments. I have a few, and my ten-year-old is very into just entrepreneur type stuff. So, he loves to think, and explore, and create things. So, he kind of heads Thursdays for us. And then, Friday is our free day. So, once we kind of go throughout the day on Friday, then Friday come four or five o'clock Friday free night. They get to watch, turn on the screens, whatever they want to do. And then, Saturday is service Saturday. So, we kind of think of something to do around the neighborhood or some... well, last year my son had an opportunity to pull weeds a lot at our neighbor's house.

August Brice:

Okay.

Jennifer Sitterud:

So, just something centered around thinking of someone else. Service Saturday. So, and then by four or five o'clock on Saturday, then screens are on again. They get to have a break and relax, so.

August Brice:

You're amazing.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Well-

August Brice:

Because all the skills you're teaching them too. And just teaching them organization and planning and just expanding their horizons that they can concept these fun things to do themselves.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah. It's been so important for me, and especially having more than one. Once we started having a lot of kids, it was just really important for me and realizing how quickly they grow up. And I really wanted them to learn these life skills and to learn all the different things that they can learn. So, it's been awesome.

August Brice:

Now, what happens [crosstalk 00:21:33].

Jennifer Sitterud:

But it is so awesome.

August Brice:

Yeah. I'm sure it is. It's got to be. It's good for you. And so, but what do you notice when Monday comes along and they've been able to... it sounds like they can watch TV Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah.

August Brice:

Or use their phones or whatever other screen opportunities you guys have.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah.

August Brice:

What happens on Monday? What's the frame of mind for Monday? Is it just so fun that they don't care?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah.

August Brice:

What's it like?

Jennifer Sitterud:

So, there will be moments-

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:22:04]

August Brice:

[crosstalk 00:22:00] ... that they don't care, or what's it?

Jennifer Sitterud:

There will be moments. So it seems like the first two weeks, it's really hard because we're getting out of the habit, breaking those bad habits, getting into some new habits, routine. And so it's a little struggle, but I just keep reminding them. And if I come into it as a positive thing and just ... Then that's kind of the energy of the home. And so I just tell myself, "Okay. You got this. Give it a week or two." Then after that, they really have created this routine and they looked forward to it. One of them or two of them might, on a Monday, "Oh, we have to do this again, Mom?" But we just kind of reiterate. This is what we want to do. It's awesome. And yeah, they get on board pretty quickly.

August Brice:

And so you always have your phone with you though, right? You were saying that, that you have it for calls and texts. How do you manage it so that it doesn't seem like you're looking at your screen if you're texting or calling someone, but they're not?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. [crosstalk 00:23:08] So the good thing is, well, and maybe not so good thing, because a lot of people try to like ... "I can't get ahold of you." I really forget to check my phone. So it'll be in my room or the kitchen. And I really, with the kids, because they're home for summer, they're not in schools. And so I really try to not have my phone when I'm with them. And once I break the habits of the social media, then it really is easy for me not to check my phone. It really is.

August Brice:

Have you tried setting those auto notifications? I do that when I'm offline, where if someone texts me, they get a message from me that says, "I'm unplugging." And I tell them about the benefits of unplugging. And I tell them if they need to, they can break through urgent, but I never look at my phone so [crosstalk 00:23:54]

Jennifer Sitterud:

Oh, that's fantastic. My husband will do that when he's driving. It will have automatic, "I'm driving." I need to do that.

August Brice:

[crosstalk 00:24:02].

Jennifer Sitterud:

And I think friends and family know by now, summers, Jen doesn't have her phone on most of the time. So at nighttime, usually that's when I'll check a lot of calls, texts, stuff like that.

August Brice:

And so have you found at all that when the school year starts and you're back to social media, have you ever heard the kids say or make any comments or just that you might feel that they're wishing that it was still screen-free time?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Oh yeah. They will say ... They will comment at the end of summer, "This is the best summer. I love this." And it's interesting. When they first start school, they won't even, during the weekday, they won't come home and try to turn on the TV or the computer, because they're out of the habit. Slowly but surely we'll get back into those habits again. That's why I really love summertime because we do. We'll get in the habits, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas break. So that's why I think it's important to have those summer times.

August Brice:

Oh, so on Christmas break they don't have their screens either?

Jennifer Sitterud:

They will. We'll get back into habits of watching screens during the holidays, which is totally fun and fine. But that's why I love the summertime just to really kind of break free from that and just make new memories.

August Brice:

And do you think that they feel the power of the unplug and they'll be able to carry that forward in their lives when they're grown up?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. I hope so. As a mother, I really hope so. I really hope they're learning these tools and these life skills that will help them. My oldest actually has mentioned, "I get it, Mom. Thank you. I get it." And then you're like, "Okay. Yes." [crosstalk 00:25:50]

August Brice:

I'm really curious. Has the oldest ever commented that maybe some of his friends are on screens too much, or does he have a different perspective because-

Jennifer Sitterud:

I think he does have a different perspective, especially when he was dealing with one that didn't have a phone for awhile. But he really felt ... At the first he asked, "I want a phone. Can I have a phone?" After awhile passed, he really felt empowered. "I don't need a phone. It's distracting. I don't need that." And he really learned quickly in watching others that it can be empowering not to have a phone.

August Brice:

I mean, I can think of putting my self in my kid's shoes back at that age. It might even be empowering that your mom can't find you all the time with your phone.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes.

August Brice:

[crosstalk 00:26:41].

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes, yes. It is so true. So they can really learn to use their imagination, especially when they're younger. They can turn a little paper into whatever and they're learning to create. And I think we really encourage that without having screens because they're thinkers, they're creators as children. And when we're in front of screens all the time, we kind of squash that. So that was really important for me to really develop their brains in that aspect.

August Brice:

Such a good point. Now tell me, other moms must have been saying to you, "Oh my gosh, you're not getting him a phone?"

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes.

August Brice:

How did you handle that? What were you thinking when people would say to you, "Gosh, he doesn't have a phone. That's kind of weird."

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah. You know what? For the most part, it was a lot of positive feedback. And, "I wish I could do that. How do you do that?" And on my blog, we did these free printables of our outline. And so I've had friends reach out, "Oh my heck, we did a week." And that's what I tell everybody. Just try a week, see how the week goes. You don't have to go full summer, which I encourage that. But try a day, a few days, a week, two weeks and see how that is. So I've got a lot of positive feedback about it.

August Brice:

Tell me what people have said who've tried it, even just a day.

Jennifer Sitterud:

They loved it. Yeah. One friend, she actually went a week and she said, "I couldn't believe how well my kids did, how well they got along, how well they played outside. She said because I was nervous that my kids don't really play. They don't play with blocks or play with toys. And she said, "After that week, I was a firm believer that, wow, give them this opportunity, eliminating those screens of what they could create and what they can do."

August Brice:

Excellent. And I want to go back to that one question though before about Logan not having a phone when everyone else had a phone for a few years. How did you as a mom deal with what other moms were saying or thinking or what he was saying to you about that?

Jennifer Sitterud:

I really was tempted. There were moments, quite a few moments where I talked to my husband. "Okay. Should we? This is their generation. This is their ... Screens are a part of who they are now." And so there were moments when I was close, really close to giving in, to like, "Okay, let's just ... let's get him this phone now. Let's get him ..." And yeah, and kind of worrying, I guess, about what other moms thought like. "Oh, we don't have phones." But I'm glad we stayed strong.

August Brice:

Oh, I bet. Good for you. Like I said before, I think he probably feels like he's the cool kid, because he was able to be different. And now it's just, like you said, it's what they're growing up in. It's the culture. It's very normal to have a phone. It's not a big deal anymore.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. Yeah.

August Brice:

[crosstalk 00:29:49].

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. And that's ... And I feel like Logan probably felt for a little while kind of the outsider. And I just encouraged him. I said, "Hey, it's okay to be different. It's okay to do different things. Learn what you can learn through this experience, because your dad and I feel like this is what we want to do in our family and what we want to teach you kids." So I think just having those open conversations of why we're doing this and what's the reasoning. And not all of our kids really fully understand, I guess. They're still younger, the younger ones. But hopefully as the older they get, how the importance of that.

August Brice:

Of having that space between the connection and the control of the phone?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah.

August Brice:

Practically speaking, I'm sure a lot of parents would love to know what do you do when your kid doesn't have a phone and you want to try to find them, or you forgot their lunch or they forgot their lunch or you're not picking them up. How does it work?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes, See, and that's where we're getting into a little tricky because now my older kids are a lot more active, involved in sports and dance. Sometimes, especially with my daughter, she's actually close. I think we're going to get her a phone. But it is, it's like, "Oh, I want to get a hold of them. I want to track them down." But they know now, when they go to a friend's house, have the mom text me so I know you're there. Or at school, they always will use the front office phone.

August Brice:

That still exists? There's still a front office phone.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes there is. Can you even? So it's just ... It's teaching them, I think, to problem solve. Well, you got to figure it out. But also, yeah, I feel like with my younger ones, I don't think we'll go until 14 anymore to get a phone. I think we'll start 13.

August Brice:

Okay. That's still late. So that's great.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. And I think just for the fact of getting a hold of them, making sure I know where they're at and they're doing okay. And the thing is, I have a lot of their friends contacts in my phone, so I can keep track of them.

August Brice:

And I love what you said about going to the front office too, because that's one more opportunity to have a social connection with an adult, to have to actually talk to someone instead of just running to your phone to solve the problem.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Absolutely. Yes. I love that aspect.

Intro:

You're listening to Thriving with Technology, the tech wellness podcast with August Brice. August will be right back, but first, have you ever wished you could reduce the risk of EMFs from your smartphone? It's one of our biggest exposures to information carrying radio waves. Those are the waves that have been proven over the course of thousands of scientific studies to really have a biological impact. And our phones are with us all the time.

Intro:

One of the best ways to reduce that exposure is to use air tube headphones, air tubes make sure that any stray radiation from your phone doesn't travel up the wire and into your head. August has been designing headphones for over a decade now. She even holds a patent for one. This latest design is by far the best yet. Our exclusive Safer Tech Air Tube headphones have been completely redesigned and they are the ultimate EMF protection. The speaker system has been overhauled and improved. I listened to a lot of headphones, and I can tell you that these are some of the very best ...

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [00:33:04]

Intro:

I listen to a lot of headphones, and I can tell you that these are some of the very best sounding wired headphones you can buy. The double-insulated cable is now even longer so that you can keep that smartphone a long way away from you. Distance is your friend. And because August wants you to be comfortable, every Safertech air tube headphone comes with five choices of earbuds, so there's a perfect fit for every ear.

Intro:

Safertech air tube headphones come in beautiful rose gold, and in black. They're coming soon in gold. If you tried to order earlier in the year and found that we were out of stock, well, now is your chance. Just look for the link in the notes below, or visit techwellness.com and check out all the resources there to help you and your family live in balance with technology. And now, back to August.

Jennifer Sitterud:

I really think it's a little different for girls, because Logan's friends, there wasn't any like, "Oh, that's okay, Logan, whatever." There was times he asked for it, but it wasn't really a big deal. I think it might be a little different for girls. Girls are more social.

August Brice:

I can't wait to see what happens with her. So, she's 12 now, or 13?

Jennifer Sitterud:

She's going to be 13 the end of May.

August Brice:

And you may give her her phone then, or you might wait till she's 14.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah. I know, Logan's like, "You got to wait till she's 14, mom. I waited." She's involved a lot with dance, and so that was our only thing of, "Oh, maybe we'll get a phone just to be able to get ahold of her."

August Brice:

Yeah. What about social media? Because I'm sure a lot of her girlfriends, especially with dance, are posting the competition, and the awards, and just something on social media. Do you let them log into their friends' social media accounts?

Jennifer Sitterud:

A lot of their friends, they follow me. And so, when their friends are posting, I'll have the kids, "Hey, come and see your friend." So they keep up with them on my account, and not all the time. It's funny because they don't see it, they don't know unless I say something. So every once in a while, "Hey, this is your friend," and they'll reach out. Their friends will reach out to me, or message me.

August Brice:

I like that because you're guiding them, you're guiding them on... There are a lot of things that we're understanding about social media, like social comparison. It's how all of us form opinions about ourselves, and beliefs about ourselves, and maybe even decide who we want to be is through social comparison.

August Brice:

And the social comparison on social media is one-dimensional. We don't really know the rest of the story except for what's posted. So, have you ever had the opportunity of guiding them through when you see something that their friends are posting and saying, "Oh, look, they took just really the good part of that situation."? Do you ever get to talk about that with them?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yeah. And we haven't had that many conversations just because they're not on social media yet, but we have had conversations about not comparing yourself. Instagram or social media can be a highlight reel. You don't know the full story. And so, just having those open conversations of what it really is.

August Brice:

Why don't we just call it a highlight reel? Because that's really all it is, right?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Isn't it so true? It absolutely is. Yes. Yep.

August Brice:

That's good. I like that. Okay, Jen, is there anything else that you want to share with people today? What's the one thing that you want other parents to know, or kids to know?

Jennifer Sitterud:

I guess I want them to know that they can do it. As a mother, life is busy. And it can be really hard. But they're only in our home for a certain amount of years. It goes fast. And I think it's so important for us, especially now in this generation, to teach them to take screen breaks, to get away from your phone. That there's life outside of social media, or constantly on your phone.

Jennifer Sitterud:

So I think it's important, we call them brain breaks. To take brain breaks away from screens, and to allow yourself to connect with other people. And to just be an encourager, that, "Moms, you can do it." Take a day, take your week, and see how you feel. Because it really is an empowering, freeing feeling when you can do that.

August Brice:

Great advice. Very good. And I now remember the one other thing that I wanted to ask you about. What about the health effects of the electromagnetic fields and the blue light? Do you consider them in your decisions?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. Oh, absolutely. And especially watching your Instagram, I've learned so much about the blue light and the effects of all of that. So it's important to... We put our phones in our closet...

August Brice:

Good.

Jennifer Sitterud:

... and get away from that electro... Or what do you call it?

August Brice:

It's called EMF, electromagnetic radiation. And there's EMF from your outlets too, but it's a different kind. There's electric EMF, magnetic EMF, and then the radiation that comes from our phones. But they all have biological effects.

August Brice:

And so, it's just having the knowledge, and you do. And so you might even see some benefits to their health because of that, as well. Have you noticed anything different about their sleep patterns when you're having the screen-free time?

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. Okay, huge difference. And I have video of my daughter falling asleep at 6:00 PM. She was so wiped out, and she slept for 13 hours. And because they're using their brains, they are outside physically being active, they sleep so good in the summer.

August Brice:

Oh, that's so good to hear. And they're also listening to their body's natural cues. And often our screens can take us away from that, because they're distracting.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Yes. I even notice for myself, if I'm on my screen at night pretty late, I don't sleep as good. So it's important for me, around dinner time, a little after, to put my phone away so I can wind down. Yeah, it really affects [crosstalk 00:39:05].

August Brice:

It's very true. Biologically, it's absolutely true. So, Jen, I know you have the printouts on your website, like a guide to the screen-free summer. Tell everybody where they can find you, and how they can get these materials. And do you charge for them?

Jennifer Sitterud:

No, they're free. I think it's so important. It's my blog, tutusandjerseys.com.

August Brice:

Thank you so much for sharing that information on your blog. What a great resource for parents. And if anyone has questions about this, do you consult? Do you do a Q and A on the blog? Tell me about that.

Jennifer Sitterud:

Reach out to me on my Instagram. Or, and I have tutsandjerseys@gmail.com, my email. I love to talk about it. Any questions, any concerns, or how we start, or encouragement from me to like, "You can do this," reach out to me anytime. I love it.

August Brice:

That's awesome. You're definitely a guiding light for moms right now. [music 00:40:04].

August Brice:

Wasn't that awesome? Thanks again, Jen. Jen has a ton of free resources, as we said, up on her website, and I'm putting those in the show notes. And until next time, please like, rate, subscribe, all those good things. All the podcasters say it, and it's because it really helps move our podcast board when you share it. So thank you in advance. And until next time, be well.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [00:40:31]