397 | Screens and Homeschooling: What to Do? (Sean Allen)

397 | Screens and Homeschooling: What to Do? (Sean Allen)

Show Notes:

Screens in homeschooling are as prevalent as they've ever been, and they don't look to become less prevalent any time soon. Whether it's your desktop computer, tablet or even your phone, your child can interact with educational programs in ways (and in locations) that would have been almost unimaginable to previous generations; but is it really all for the better? In this episode we'll explore the issue of the incursion of screens into our homeschools and we'll examine the potential pitfalls that come along with them. We'll also discuss some simple solutions to help mitigate their effects on our children.

About Sean

Sean Allen is the founder of The Well Ordered Homeschool, husband to his beautiful bride Caroline and a proud father of eight. He has a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design and is passionate about creating materials to assist parents in the incredibly challenging, yet surpassingly beautiful, work of schooling and training their children at home.


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Show Transcript:

Sean Allen Hello. Welcome to the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Sean Allen and I am one of the many hosts here on the podcast. Since you're listening to this, I'm guessing you already know that homeschooling is both incredibly challenging and incredibly beautiful. Every week we're here doing a little guidance, some helpful counsel, and a whole lot of encouragement your way as you navigate this busy, yet blessed journey of educating your children at home. Now, even though the show is called Homeschool Solutions, it should come as no surprise to you that we do not have the answer to every homeschool related question. But if you come away with nothing else, our hope is that today's episode will point you to Jesus Christ and that you will seek His counsel as you train your children in the way they should go.

Sean Allen Here's a riddle for you parents: Homeschoolers love them, enemies of freedom hate them. What are they? It's the Tuttle Twins books. With millions of copies sold, the Tuttle Twins helps you teach your kids about entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, the Golden Rule, and more. Get a discounted set of books with free workbooks—that's right, free workbooks—today at TuttleTwins.com/homeschool. That's TuttleTwins.com/homeschool. And now on to today's show.

Sean Allen Hello, everyone. Welcome again to the podcast. I hope that you all are doing well. Hope you're having a wonderful day, whether it's the start or the day or the end of the day or the middle of the day, I hope it's going well for you. We are busy, busy, busy, as always. I'm sure you are, too. That's just life. We've accepted it. We're trying to adapt to it. We're more fully adapted to it now than I think we've ever been and yet not fully adapted. I don't know if you can ever fully accept how busy everything gets. But I'm sure that you are very, very busy too. How could you not be, homeschooling your children? And we just finished up our last event, I think, our last official event of the year. Almost 100% certain. I don't think anything else is going to crop up. But our last official homeschool event was the 1st of August, and then we did one more in Tennessee. We went to Wild and Free and that was quite an experience. We really enjoyed that. Very much different than a GHC convention, much smaller and certainly not the number of vendors that you would normally see there. But nevertheless-- It was it was a day and a half-- much shorter as well. And it was good. It was ladies only, so I was only allowed onto the premises to help set up the booth and then I had to hightail it out of there. So I took the rest of the children and we did some other things. But Caroline and our oldest daughter, they manned the booth and they had a good time. And, well, we're thankful to be back home now. We're going to get ready for the winter and see the winter months through, and then gear up to do it, hopefully, all over again next year. So that's kind of where we are.

Sean Allen In other news, we are expecting again, so this will be our ninth, which is just astonishing, not only to us, but I'm sure to many people around us. And we're super excited. Everyone's different, obviously, and your emotions and your reactions and everything evolve over time. We were super excited for number one, and we're super excited for this one too, but in a different way. Some of the people that are around you, maybe not so much. You don't see as much of that excitement as you do with number one or number two. But that's all right. That's okay. We're fine with that. And everyone is so special and we're so very, very thankful that we can, hopefully, by the grace of God, we can welcome another little one into the world and have the privilege of raising him or her. Goodness gracious! It is such a privilege, isn't it? And whether you have one or you have ten or however many you all have out there, it's just a-- Man, it is something else. It's just-- There aren't words to describe it. So wonderful! So, so very challenging, but so very rewarding.

Sean Allen So thank you again for joining us today. What I want to talk to you about is something that I think about almost every day. And the reason for that is that it's just kind of front and center every day...almost every day of our lives now in modern society. And I'm guessing that you--most of you, if not all of you--deal with this, if not struggle with this also on a daily basis in your homeschools. And I am talking, of course, about screen time--talking about phones and computers and all sorts of those invasive devices like that. I know that they're tools that can be used. They're very helpful. Can be remarkably useful! But they can be also remarkably detrimental. And it's striking that happy balance between usefulness and entertainment, and then just doing away with the potential invasiveness of the devices and how they can almost get to the point where they overrun your homeschool, not just your lives, but--I mean, that too; it can overrun your life too--but it can certainly get in the way of the smooth running and orchestration of your homeschool. And that's a problem. It's a huge problem for so many families. And I want to say that--though these things have been with us for some time and certainly we've grown up around computers--but the smartphone phenomenon is relatively new. I know we've had those for some years as well, but as far as us understanding what's going on and the different opportunities that this device opens up, both good and bad, I think for us--and for us as a society and certainly for our families--is something that we haven't fully come to grips with yet. And I think it's one of those things where probably in another 20, 30, 40, maybe 50 years later, we'll have a clearer idea of what all this means and exactly how it affected us, for better and for worse.

Sean Allen We're not quite there yet. I think we're still adapting because the smartphone phenomenon was just up and coming when a lot of us were just becoming parents, or maybe we hadn't been in this thing for that long, or maybe we had a foot in both camps. And what I mean by that is, we had a foot in the camp of pre-smartphone when there was not such a thing. It was just use the phone to make phone calls, and that was about it. And then all of a sudden here all these other capabilities cropped up, and we had to manage that too with our children. That's all they've ever known. And so sometimes my children will see a show or movie or something and they see somebody use a flip phone and they're like, "What's that?!" Or, "What in the world is that?!" And they just don't understand the concept. And then you start talking to them about cordless phones and you start talking about corded phones. I even remember the dial phones with the little rotary dials and all that. And that just really blows their minds. So you try to explain to them, "Yeah, the phone was located in a certain spot in your house and that's where it stayed. It hung on the wall or it was on your counter or in your kitchen or wherever. And if you wanted to make a phone call, you went to that spot. If you wanted to retrieve a phone call, you went to that spot. And that was just about all that it did." And so we've come from that to-- And probably some of you out there can remember even before that. My mom likes to tell me about-- Oh, what do they call those? Party lines? When everybody's home was on one line, so if you were the furthest downstream the line-- You know, if there were two other households on a call, you could hear their call and you had to wait till they got off their call before you could take your call. And that's just-- Wow! That's just amazing. So we've come from that, all the way to where we are today with all the capabilities that these phones are capable of. Excuse me. But I just don't think we've fully come to grips with it. And it certainly affects our homeschool.

Sean Allen So how does it do this? Well, number one-- I'm not just talking about phones, but talking about screens in general. Number one, a lot of school is online now or it's on a screen. I mean, it used to be you'd buy the box of software and you'd download a DVD or whatever software off of the the CD or whatnot, but now a lot of it's coming to an internet connection. That's all fine and good. I'm going to give you my personal opinion, you do with it what you will. I don't know that most of this stuff is what it's cracked up to be. I'm not pointed at any particular software in particular, or any program or anything like that. We've used them and we still use some of them. And again, at first, it was kind of like the Wild Wild West of homeschooling software programs and things. It's so new and it's so innovative and it's so different, like, "Well, hey, we'll give this a try. Let's try this. And maybe it's going to take a load off of mom." And in some ways it does, and then in other ways it creates more loads. It creates more problems than perhaps what it solves. And again, listen, if you have a program that you use--it's a math program, a history program, or whatever, language program--you use that, you love it, it's working, you're seeing good results. Please stick with it, by all means. I'm not here casting-- I don't want to cast doubt on what's working for you. But if you're struggling with, "Well, this stuff seems good and on paper it looks good, but I'm just not seeing the results." If you're in that camp, but you also certainly recognize the detrimental sides of online school, I'm just asking you to take another look at that and reconsider. And maybe you don't have to have school online. Maybe you don't have to have online programs to do your school. Just think about that for a little bit. Again, I think that there's certainly positives to it, but sometimes the negatives outweigh the positives. And maybe a little bit of this is perhaps our own management problems. And I'm going to get into that here in just a little bit. But there are some issues that come along with having school on screens, and I really think it's attributable to the age-old dilemma of-- Which this always poses problems, I think, in households, is whenever there is a separation between the teacher and the student, or there's a separation between the parent and the child-- When you start introducing things that create separations or divisions or widening gulfs of separation between you and your child, there's always a potential for trouble.

Sean Allen And so, again, the attractive part of online school is, "Well, you know, they can go over here and do what they need. They can be doing their math, and then I can go over here and do something else." Well, wonderful, if your child's disciplined, if you can completely trust them. A lot of times what you'll find is your homeschool math program is not the only thing on the internet. You know what I mean? So what's going to keep them from clicking over to something else? And it could be something as-- I don't want to say benign, but it can be a low-level problem such as a time suck, or it could be a very high-level problem such as viewing things that are completely inappropriate and are detrimental to their very soul. And so these are some of the problems that are posed by online schooling. Again, all the way from time suck to inappropriate viewing. And you've got to consider those things. And so maybe the negatives outweigh the positives. So there are some solutions to this, just some things to consider. And if you're dealing with this, if you're struggling with this on a continual basis and it's just about to make you pull your hair out. And it's like a little dopamine hit, isn't it? Certainly, it's for us, it's for our children. We're human beings. You know how this works. The computer or the phone or the tablet or whatever it is, it represents something now to your child. And yes, they do school on it, but they probably do lots of other things on it as well. And so that device, it becomes habitual. And any time they see that thing or they touch its peripherals--they touch the keyboard, they touch the mouse or whatever--any time that they have interaction with that device, it is triggering something in their spirit. It's triggering something in their brain. It's triggering physiologically, spiritually, whatever you want to say, it's triggering something and that represents something now to them.

Sean Allen And so, yeah, we can get through school or we can do school in five-minute bits, and we can jump over here and do something for another five minutes, and then, "Oh, mom's coming into the room. Let's click over into this other tab." You all know how this works, so you've got to be aware of this. You cannot-- Please. I don't care if you think that it is the best thing since sliced bread. I don't care if you hate it with a passion. You have got to manage this. Alright? I'm sure that there are a few--I'm going to say relatively few--children out there who can from day one, manage this on their own. It just doesn't speak to them the way that it does most of us. But I would say the majority of your children, it's going to grab a hold of them and it's not going to let go. So it's on you. You're responsible for helping them to manage this because they do not have-- They don't possess the will to be able to resist the pull and the the draw of the enticements that these devices present to them. And I'm not talking about the worst things that you can imagine. I'm talking even the most, the relatively-- Ah, not benign! They're not benign, none of these things. I guess, they're not-- They're engaged. They're not innocent. They're not-- I'm trying to think of the right word here. They're not disengaged. They play a role and they they have a purpose. They're designed to draw your children in, again, for better or for worse. So you've got to restrict it. You've got to manage it.

Sean Allen So what are some of the ways that you could do this? They're very obvious, but they're not failsafe. And so you've got to manage the management as well. So one of the first things I'm going to mention is timers. You can use timers to help you to know when they are done, or should be done, with their assignment or with that particular segment of their schooling. So say they need 15 minutes or 30 minutes or 45 or an hour for their math, however long-- "I'm going to give you an hour." Okay, that's not failsafe, by the way, because you set a timer, you set it for an hour, you're going to step away. And so within that hour, while you're not there, they're free to do just about whatever they want to do. Now, I know that you can come back once the hour's complete and you can see, "Well, we only got through--" I don't know. "You had 50 problems and you only did six. What else were you doing?" Then you can have that conversation. You can manage it that way, but it might be too late. They may have already seen and done things that you would have rather them not seen and done. And so you've got to manage the management, okay.

Sean Allen But timers can be helpful because with-- Especially if you're schooling multiple children, it's so easy to get distracted. And so your 14-year-old is on the computer doing their math homework, and you step away for 45 minutes and you go over to your 13-year-old or 12-year-old or whatever, and you do their school. And then the six-year-old wants something and then the four-year-old wants something, and before you know it's not an hour it's two hours and you realize, "Well, I haven't checked in with my 14-year-old. What's going on with them?" And they're still on the computer, watching YouTube or something. Ask me how I know folks. Ask me how I know. So it's easy for this thing to spiral out of control. And once they get that hit, once they're checking on Pinterest or once they're watching...especially YouTube, for crying out loud. YouTube is like-- I know there's a lot of useful things on YouTube, a lot of helpful vidoes and everything, but there's a lot of poison on there too. Nobody can convince me otherwise. I mean, don't even try. I'm sorry. I try to be-- Because I know I'm talking to a lot of different people on here and not everybody agrees. I don't expect you to agree with everything that I say. That's not the point. But I don't know how you can-- Nobody can rightfully disagree with this: There's a lot of poison on YouTube, and it is so easily accessible. And you can talk to your children and you can help them to navigate, but YouTube is very good at just-- I don't know whether it's intentionally or unintentionally. They're just throwing up all kinds of garbage up on the side screen or the sidebar. And sometimes it's geared towards your likes, and then other times there's one or two things in there that your eight-year-old should just not be seeing. And you've got to manage that.

Sean Allen And so, when you look at it that way, for me knowing that there is that potential, and that my child is building habits that will most likely follow him or her around for the rest of their lives, that almost is enough to say-- It really is enough to say, "You know what, online school is just not worth it." And I know you could turn around and you could say, "Well, you need to do a better job of managing it." Well, that's easier said than done. And if you can't manage it. If you just can't, you just find yourself spinning around and you get easily distracted, you've got so many different things going on and you lose track and that happens, it's okay. I mean, you're not a bad person because that happens. I mean, we can always do better than what we're doing. But the risk that that presents, because you most likely will get distracted, which means they most likely will be spending their time on the computer doing things other than their schoolwork. Is that really worth the risk? You have to ask yourself that. And you all know as you're hearing this, "You know, we don't really have this problem." Or maybe you do and you don't know it. So I would also ask you to-- You know, maybe this is a wakeup call for you to check in on your children, check in on them. Check the history. If you set a timer for 45 minutes, check in every 15 minutes or so, if you can. Just pop in on them real quick and see what their behavior is. See if they're scrambling to click over to something, you hear a lot of click, click, clickng as you're walking over to the computer. And also, just straight up ask them, "What were you doing? Are we still doing our school?" And you can know; hopefully, you can discern. But ask the hard questions and find out exactly, "What's going on over there?"

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Sean Allen So schooling's been going on for a long time. People have been homeschooling for a long time. People have been homeschooling before computers. And so "screened school", if you want to call it that, or online school, that's not absolutely necessary. I know you may think that it is, and there's no other way. And maybe your child has you convinced that this is the only way that they're going to get their math done because they don't like-- "I hate books and I hate writing and all this stuff. And I'd much rather have this bright and colorful and engaging math program or history program or science program." That's all understandable. But just count the cost. That's all I'm asking you is count the cost. And if you realize that what it's costing your child in time, and certainly in how it is affecting their soul, if it's too expensive, find a screenless alternative, alright. Just please, please do that. Because if we're talking about your ten-year-old/ twelve-year-old, whatever, up and coming teenagers--certainly teenagers who are pre-phone--you are laying the groundwork for how they're going to manage that device. Eventually, they're going to get a phone, right? And they're probably telling you that, "I'm going to get a phone at some point. When am I going to get a phone?," they're asking you. "When? When? When? When? My friends have phones. When am I going to get a phone?" Well, if you have let them have free reign on their computer or your tablet or your phone when they were eight/nine/ten/eleven, well, you have really set yourself up for trouble once they get that phone in hand. You have set yourself up for so much-- You've set them up for trouble. Don't do that, please.

Sean Allen You want to talk to them on a frequent basis. Frequently. Talk to them about these devices and warn them about them. You can talk up their benefits and how if they're used properly they're capable of doing this, that, and the other. But you have certainly got to make them aware of the negative or the injurious side of having this device on you at all times everywhere you go. So start now with your screen school and how you manage that, or maybe you just don't need it at all. And I don't know, depending on what kind of computer you use, there's all kinds of different ways to set restrictions. And maybe another idea is to have a school computer. You have a computer that's just dedicated for school and it's set in a certain place and the screen is turned around to where everybody can see. Maybe you're doing school-- This is actually a wonderful idea. It would really be very beneficial for you and helpful is if your school computer is in the school room, or where you traditionally do school, and it's turned around to where everybody can see the screen, you could do your school with the rest of the children while the one child's doing-- You can see what's going on at any given time and help to make them accountable. Help them. Because, again, they don't have the will to manage this just yet. That's got to grow. They've got to build that immunity, so to speak. And they're probably going to be fighting that for the rest of their lives. They've got to be strong. But if you build a good foundation when they're young, it's going to be a lot easier than it will be if you were just indiscriminate about it and just let them have free reign. Don't do that.

Sean Allen Another idea is for your teenagers who do have phones-- I'm going to talk about that a little bit, just about when it's a good time to think about allowing your teenager to have a phone. But for those who do have phones, they're still living under your roof. And I know that they think they have complete ownership over that device and it's theirs, and maybe they even pay for it. Maybe they pay for it on a monthly basis, the phone plan. But they're still your child and you are still in charge. You're responsible for them, obviously. And so seeing as how you are responsible for their management of that device, you can tell them when they can and cannot use it. And so maybe you want to say there's no screens past a certain time. Okay. Maybe it's like, "When we sit down for dinner, that's it. So turn the phones in." I've heard families that have baskets, they have phone baskets, and it's set in a certain place outside their living room, and everybody just drops their phone in the basket after a certain time. And then in the morning-- Or what we've done actually in the past is we've not let them have the phone until after school is done. So they don't have it on that night and they wake up and they do their chores and they have their school and then after school they can pick up their phone again. You know what? They're 15, they're 16, they're 17, they're 18. They don't need to check on that phone every 15 minutes, or every hour even, or even every 8 hours. They don't. What exactly is going on?

Sean Allen I mean, I know there's exceptions out there. Some of you are listening and you're thinking, "Well, my teenager actually runs his own business." And that's all fine and good, but just manage it. And again, the majority of the people that I'm talking to, your teenagers don't need to be checking-- There's nothing that they have going on that is that imperative or is that important. Do you remember a time when you lived to adulthood without having to check social media or check your email or check your texts? Yes, you do. You probably do. I know I do. And you know what? We made it. And our parents made it, and our grandparents made it, and our great grandparents made it. They all lived and they survived. And so your teenagers can, too. And I know when you use terms like that, you try to explain it to them, they can give you an eye roll, like, "Give me a break, this doesn't apply to me. This is the modern age." But it does apply to them. You don't have to be mean about it, you can just be very firm and direct. And no screens past a certain time I think it's a great idea. Don't let them go to bed with their phones, okay. When they get of age and they leave your house and they're adults and they can make their own decisions, that's up to them. That's on them. But now it's on you to help them to be responsible.

Sean Allen You know, something that can really help is-- Or something that I've found that kind of knocks us off track is disorganization--when when there's no routine, when there's no schedule. And I know I've touted schedules in the past, but they are so helpful. When you know that "it's this time and we do this" and "it's this time and we do that," and you know what you should and should not be doing at any given time, you can manage that. But when you're just doing a little bit of everything and you're always playing catch up, well, children start to slip through the cracks and they start to slink away. Look, I'm speaking from experience. I'm sure this all sounds very, very detailed. And it's detailed because these are some of the experiences that we've had. But they they slip away. And where are they? They're on the computer. Or they begin to think that at any given time, "If I've done my chore, can I get on the computer? I've done my math, can I get on the computer?" "No, we don't get on the computer during school hours." You know, you can set those kinds of rules. "We don't get on the computer or we don't get on tablets or whatever past 6:00 at night." Whatever time you want to set for your family. And so they should know that. But if they don't know that, if you're not adhering to a schedule--strict or otherwise--then they just have this sense that, "Well, we can hop on at any time." And that's very-- It's just a mess and it's hard to untangle. And so, again, it's this addiction, it's this habitual...this routine return to this device that provides this degree of pleasure that they just cannot seem to detach themselves from. And, look, we're no different. We can also succumb to the enticement of these devices. And that almost rhymed! But we've just got to be very, very careful.

Sean Allen You know how it is in your own life, and it's probably doubly or even triply--that's not a word, but I just I said it anyway--true for your child because they don't have the will that you have. And it's a struggle for us. So because, again, it was the Wild Wild West and it was such a new frontier, this whole smartphone thing, and the device in your pocket at all places at all times-- You know, all the TV shows, all the video games, all the movies that ever were are accessible through that device in your pocket. And you can take it just about anywhere. You can take it out in the woods, you can take it into your bathroom, you can take it out...you can take it in your car and you can access all of those things. That still is so mind blowing to me. And it's such a drastic change, paradigm shift even. I think for us we just didn't know-- I don't know if we've quite made sense of it just yet. But our children haven't stopped to think about what it means because they've never known anything different. A lot of them have not. And so this is the world, the brave new world that they're growing up in. And seeing as how we did have one foot at one time in the previous world that was, wherein these things did not exist, and we know what that was like and we know how relatively peaceful it was-- Not on all fronts, but certainly on this front. It was a lot less harried and a lot less frenzied. And we know what that tastes like. And so we can talk to our children about that. It really is our responsibility. If we don't pass this experience that we have had, and the sense of what it was like to not have these kinds of attachments to these devices onto our children, they are going to be almost completely incapable of passing it on to their children. We have a responsibility to help them to manage these things.

Sean Allen So the last thing I will say real quick about phones is that we've-- I could talk for quite a while about our experience, but we learned the hard way that, again, by how how attractive and how addictive and how-- It just becomes such an unavoidably habitual thing for our young people. And again, I'm talking everything from-- I mean just alone the time, the time that it steals away from their lives. And you know, with your firstborn child, you're thinking, "What do we do? I've never had a child that's had a smartphone before. I know how I manage it, but maybe they would be a little different than me. How soon is too soon? And what's the right age?" And all these kinds of things. And so we had our our boys coming to us and saying, "Well, all of our friends have phones. When are we getting a phone? We're so weird. We feel weird for not having a phone because, you know, our best friends have phones. And their parents are good parents and they let their their children have phones." And so then you start to think, "Oh, am I being too strict? Are we out of touch?" And so you're like, "Okay, well, let's try this out. Let's try this out with restrictions." And we had iPhones, and we started we started them off with a couple of iPhones that, one of them was not on a phone plan and the other one was. And we had our reasons for that, which we thought were well thought out. And then we realized, "You know what, this was premature. This was a bad idea." And, we love our children. We love and respect our boys, and we think they're fine young men, but it doesn't really matter how good your children are, they're flesh and blood. And they don't know how to manage this stuff. They don't. And I think that the current and the upcoming generation are uniquely inclined or they tend to gravitate towards these things because it's all around them. And a lot of the content that's being generated is geared towards them. It speaks their language somehow. It doesn't necessarily speak ours. You know, some of the stuff you see on here you're like, "What in the world? Why are people watching this? Oh, this has 48 million views. Please explain to me why. You know, I don't get it." But they do, somehow. It just appeals to them.

Sean Allen And so you might think that their-- Not that their level of maturity is on the same level as yours is, but that we're seeing the same...we're thinking the same things and we see this in the same light, and you don't. You just don't. And so we realized, "You know what? This was too much, too soon. We should not have expected that you were capable of managing this properly. And that's on us. That's our fault, not your fault." And now we feel guilty for having set them up for more difficulty down the road because, again, it gets in the bloodstream. And again, they don't have that attachment to the past to where they knew what it was like pre-smartphone. This is all that they've ever known. And so we've worked through lots of different things. We've worked through lots of different devices. And our sons, we're so proud of them, they've come to us and said, "You know what, Dad, Mom, I'm spending too much time on this. Let's do this. Let's do that. And I don't even like this thing anymore.".

Sean Allen And so we've tried lots of different things, but after our two oldest what we realized, "You know what--" Well, with our third, which would be our daughter...our first daughter, we've told her, "Sorry, but now that we know better, you won't have a smartphone until you're 18." Now, please don't take offense at that. I don't know what you all are doing and it really doesn't matter. I'm just telling you what we've done and why we've done it, and maybe it'll just give you food for thought. You take it and do with it what you will. But we've told her you will not have a smartphone until you're 18. When you're 16, you will get a phone. But it's a phone, phone, phone. Old fashioned phone. Well, not exactly old fashioned, but you know what I mean, just a cell phone. Because she'll be driving. She might be out running an errand or something and we would like for her to be able to contact us. So that's all understandable. But as far as the smartphone features and access to the internet and the App Store and all that stuff, "No, you're not having that." And the social media and everything, especially for a young lady, is particularly attractive, the social media side of it. And so we're not-- For us, that's what we said, "We are not doing that. We're not allowing you to have access to those things. It's not that we don't trust you, but we just don't trust ourselves. We just don't trust humanity. We just don't want that for you. There are so many other things that you could be focusing on and spending your time on right now. And this is such an enormous distraction and it's drawing you away from this opportunity that you have to to further develop yourself as a young lady and as you grow older. And we don't want you to divert your attention away from what's truly important. And what the latest influencer is wearing and what they're eating and they're their latest vacation stay, you know, it's not important. Those things are not important. They're not! I know they're enticing and they draw you in. They're intensely interesting at times, but it's not important." And so, yeah 18, we can say, "You know, you're at the age where you should be making more of your own decisions. And hopefully we've laid a good framework or groundwork for you to work from. And then we can we can cross that bridge.".

Sean Allen That's the rules that we've set. There's so much more that could be said about this. You know, as far as a phone to recommend, the Gabb phone, in our experience, has been a very good phone because it is actually locked down and it's very difficult to hack. Some of you all probably have children who even know how to hack, and they're very good at researching ways to find workarounds around some of these restrictions. And so, wow! It's just a crazy thing. I think the best smartphone for your teenager is no phone. Really. No phone. And if they have a phone because they're driving, just make it a phone. You know, a Gabb phone or a Ghost phone or something like that. I know there's a few, not very many, but there's a few alternatives out there. And just keep talking to them until you feel that they're prepared for the smartphone experience, and they've got their eyes wide open as much as possible to know what to look for and to be mindful of the pitfalls that are out there. So just some thoughts on that. This is an ever-evolving situation. I want to venture to say that it's going to get worse before it gets better, if it ever gets better. And so that being the case, we have to remain vigilant, ever vigilant. And this is not something that you can ignore. Please, for heaven's sake, do not ignore this. And do not assume that your child has got a good handle on this. You have got to walk them through this because it will grab ahold of them so fast and drag them down dark paths that you do not want them to be walking down.

Sean Allen So please, just be mindful, be vigilant, talk a lot, ask a lot of questions, pray a lot, be very open and just make yourself available to talk to your children so that they feel as if they have, what I like to call an authoritative advocate, in you. So some parents are authority figures and other parents are just, they want to be advocates. In other words, "I'm in your corner and I love you and I want to bless you, and you could do no wrong." And that kind of a thing. And other parents are authority figures like, "I'm here just to correct you when you do wrong." Well, your children need both. They need an authoritative advocate. They need somebody who's in their corner who is absolutely going to lay the law down when they need to because they do genuinely love their children. But also they do it in such a way that it does not fracture their relationship, or it doesn't cause them undue embarrassment or shame or guilt over areas in which they might be failing. So they need both of those things. They need you to be an authority and an advocate for them. So lots of things to think about. I hope this has helped you in some way. I trust that many of you are already doing most of these things, but this is just at least a good reminder for you. Take this opportunity to check up on your child and talk with them, maybe even tonight or tomorrow or whenever it is that you're listening to this. Just have a talk. You can't talk too much about this. So thank you very much for listening. God bless each and every one of you. God bless your children as you walk through these very difficult situations. And I just hope the Lord uplifts you and gives you light and encouragement and wisdom in each and every one of your homes. And I will look forward to talking to each one of you again very soon. So goodbye for now.

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