Dr. Catherine Pearlman is a licensed clinical social worker and the founder of The Family Coach, a private practice that helps families solve common parenting issues.
367 First Phone
Cellphones have become a fact of life, with children as young as eight (yes, eight!) getting their very own “devices.” In this episode I talk to Catherine Pearlman—licensed clinical social worker and parenting expert—about her book, First Phone. I love this book! In it, she speaks directly to eight- to twelve-year-old children about digital safety in a manner that is playful, engaging, and age-appropriate.
First Phone - Catherine Pearlman 
*This is an auto-generated transcript*
[00:00:00] Hunter: We're gonna talk about phones today. My friends, because Catherine has written an amazing book called first phone. And as I was telling her, my 12 year old does not have a phone yet. And so I'm gonna be getting your book. I have the like, Advanced copy, but now I'm gonna have to go shell out for the actual book because , I'm like, this is really good.
She needs this book. So what was the driving force behind wanting to write this? Because I know your kids are a little older. I mentioned they have phones already.
[00:00:35] Dr Catherine Pearlman: Yeah. Both my kids do. Actually there's a couple of things that kind of came together that made me think that this book is really needed. The first thing is that, Parents, I think are outta their depths with their kids and their phones.
I think that even conscientious parents are really trying hard to manage this like incredibly powerful digital device and it's hard and our kids are a little bit ahead of us. There's that I've gotten a lot of calls, emails. Know, chatting with parents about, oops, my kid. So porn my child was sexted.
What should I do? My child did sexing, what should I do? So a lot of these things started happening. And then the pandemic happened. So we've been talking about screen time for years, but then all of a sudden we have school sanctions, screen time for eight hours a day plus time on the homework, on the computer.
And it just, I saw screen time being an all day thing for kids and parents, not really knowing how to handle. And the truth is that kids are exposed even earlier than that. Yeah. I just thought we need to teach kids for themselves how to make good decisions, because I don't think parents can always be with their kids when they have a digital device near them.
So even if your kid doesn't have a digital device, they're on the bus with a kid, who's had a cell phone for three years and maybe those parents aren't as savvy in terms of, knowing how to put on protection. Your kid is sitting right next to that kid. And that kid's Hey, look at my phone.
And your kid is great. Even with our best intentions, I think that kids are getting access. And so it's really important to teach kids for themselves to make good decisions.
[00:02:13] Hunter: Yeah, that's an incredibly important point. Cuz I know that, here on the Mindful Mama body house, we've talked about screen time in so many different ways.
And we have people who advocate like really, we've had guests who advocate delaying screen time for a long time, but you're right. Like it's, this is just in the culture. This is around our kids. It's everywhere, so may not have a phone yet. but cuz she's had friends who have had phones since they were eight years old, so it's and then, we want to teach them these habits, but then also like adults get sucked into, we can't always model the right things. Like adults get sucked into bad habits. I sometimes get frustrated around some of my friends cuz I'm like put the phone down. I know you don't have to pull it out and show me the.
Thing. Like we could just talk about this thing. But we get sucked into the whole thing too. So I think that's such an important point. Yeah, we need to be, something that is directed right. To kids. And so what kind of age range do you see? My first phone kind of being for? Because it's interesting cuz it's I think for maybe she, I think it seems probably directed to someone a little bit younger than her.
[00:03:28] Dr Catherine Pearlman: The age range of my mind is honestly between eight and 13, and there are five kids that are profiled in the book. They're not real kids, they're conglomerate kids. And they are, in the age that age range with some of, most of the kids, 11 or 12 in the book. So it really does speak to older kids, but I know that some younger kids are getting their phone eight and.
So I do have a couple kids that are younger, so it's really in that age range and trying to be broad for them. And I've even had adults read the book and I'm like, I actually learned something. And for me even writing the book, yeah. I feel like I learned something. So even up to 13, I think that kids will feel like it's speaking directly to them.
[00:04:09] Hunter: Okay. So dear listener, let me just describe it for you. Like first phone is great. Has these kids, they talk to, they have conversations with each other. There's like great graphics, great illustrations, like on every page, which I know my child will love. Cuz she loves graphic novels. Even if you're a big reader, it always helps to have all these like fun.
Graphics that take like a challenging and heavy topic and make it interesting. And you do make like things interesting by like making, having different things and then having the kids chime in on the, their own way, which is really cool. Alright, I've raved on about your book enough, but let's talk about some of the stuff inside the book, right?
So what are the things that kids need to know about before having a first fountain? We don't wanna just give them these devices and be like, okay, bye-bye have fun. What are some of the things that we as parents need to set up before, how walk us through this? What do we do before the first.
[00:05:19] Dr Catherine Pearlman: So I think a lot of parents, think they're gonna talk to their kids about phone safety. They're gonna maybe do a phone contract and then they're gonna give the kid the phone. And that's the end of it. I think that parents have to realize, and then express to their children, that digital education is a lifelong process.
We are still learning as adults and children need to realize that things. and there's constantly learning and adapting that happens. And also that mistakes happen. I have a whole chapter in the book about mistakes. , it's unrealistic to think that our kids aren't gonna make mistakes.
Again, I know adults who click on scams or get sucked into things that they probably shouldn't. And so we should let our kids know ahead of time. I know you're gonna make a mistake. You're gonna make lots of mistakes. That is okay. I'm here to talk to you about it. I'm here to learn with you and support.
So I think that's also really important and to, plan on having ongoing dialogues with your kids. And then the last thing I think that's really important before the phone is to talk about what self care is and then how your child will know when they really need self care as it relates to their digital device, because what we're learning.
Is that these devices cause us to feel all kinds of things, angry, sad, depressed, anxious social media has a lot to do with that. Notifications has a lot to do with that. And we have to start talking to kids in general, as I know you have for many years about, being Mindful about your emotions, about how this device makes you feel checking in with yourself, and then how are we gonna manage that?
How are we gonna, what's our plan for our self care and how do we reevaluate that over.
[00:07:00] Hunter: It's interesting, Catherine, because I love these, we have to talk about self care. We know we're gonna make mistakes and things like that. But it's interesting cuz I think one of the things that we used to think about as the most important thing was like safety from like predators, right?
Like that used to be like the big thing. And that's in there. You talk about that in the book, but it's almost our, the challenge now is more safety from the device itself. Like the idea that the device itself is the thing to be that is, is gonna be the thing that brings the most challenge in our lives.
Is that kind of what I'm getting from
[00:07:35] Dr Catherine Pearlman: you here? Yeah, because I think in a way it's pretty easy. To explain to your kid what to scam and how to double check that it's almost more concrete. It's this is what it might look like. Don't click on a link. It's like a rule don't click on a link that you don't know who it's from.
Don't respond to someone who's not in your context. It's very concrete. It's not very concrete to say social media makes us feel all kinds of things. How does this post make you feel? How do you feel after you spent an hour on social media? That's not something that's very easy for kids to grasp. So I think it is really important to talk about the concrete, predator, scams, fishing, all of that stuff that is happening for kids, but that's not happening for the majority of kids.
The majority of kids though, are experience a lot of anxiety, depression. And all kinds of negative outcomes, lack of sleep, lack of attention at school because of this cell phone. So I think we have to shift our attention and also do that other stuff, but realize, they learn that pretty quickly.
The other stuff is harder to grasp.
[00:08:39] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah, those are those are pretty cut and dried. So the things we're really looking for, we had a whole episode on teens and sleep. So knowing that sleep is so important, so sleep attention and how it's affecting our emotional and physical or our emotional mental.
That basic, those are the big things that we are. We wanna teach 'em and yeah, you're right. That's so much more nebulous. Actually, my older daughter, Maggie, she when she was 14, she was on TikTok for a while. And if you don't know, just so if somebody doesn't know, cuz I wouldn't have known TikTok is like the app where it's like these like super fast videos that just go boom, like video.
I haven't anyway, so she was on it for a little while my husband got on it for a little while just to understand what she was doing and what it was all about. And then she actually found she actually got off it on her own and took it off her. Because she's was said, it didn't, she didn't like how it made her feel.
And I was like, yes, Parenting win Bravo. Yes. I was like, so I was so thrilled for that, but what are some of, maybe we can talk about what are some of the, what are some of the top. Apps to look for, to look out for on smartphones, what are some of the things that we really wanna be careful with our kids about?
And maybe even hold off until they're older with
[00:10:16] Dr Catherine Pearlman: So it's, what's really interesting. And what I recommend for parents to do is exactly what you did is get on the app and see what's happening because these apps are smart. They. So every time you're talking, wait before
[00:10:30] Hunter: we get, give it to our kids.
So just wanna would you recommend that we get on the app before we give it to our kids? Cuz I think now knowing my second daughter I wouldn't, for me, I'm not sure. I would let her get on TikTok now that I know what it is, but we didn't even really, I didn't even really find out what it was until after Maggie was on it.
So anyway, can you just clarify, get on it before or get on it while your kid's getting on it?
[00:10:54] Dr Catherine Pearlman: So I think it's good to do a little bit of reading and all of the social medias have a parent and child guide. So that you can read about what you need to know, but those are sponsored by the social media companies, but they're a good start.
So I would do that before you're saying yes to anything. The truth is even if you say, no, your child can still have an account, but you don't see it on their phone. The child can still view stuff on their friend. They go to their neighbors and their friends, and they're still looking at the same content.
It's just not necessarily on their actual phone. So I think once they're like 13 or 14 years old, we have to accept the fact that they're going to be on social media. Then we should get in there to see what it is that they're seeing and talk to them about it. Again, this goes back to the ongoing digital education.
So what's interesting about social media apps is that they learn, but they also hone in some very negative ways. So young girls are seeing a lot of eating videos a lot of exercise videos a lot of things that are. Maybe inappropriate for them, but it's very subtle. And the more they click on things, the more it kind of hones down.
And before, it, all of the videos they're seeing are things that, we may not feel are appropriate or in our child's best interest in terms of their mental health. And so I think it's important for parents to. Once the kid is on there and the device starts to learn about what your child is clicking on.
See, what's popping up for them. The same is true for YouTube. What is popping up in that column, on the right for them? That's, encouraging them to click that kind of lets you know, what head space your child is in.
[00:12:35] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. So would you recommend say like that we make a, like a contract with our kid before they get the phone that says, Hey I can come in and check the apps and check 'em out every once in a while, just to set that up.
This is not your device. This is. Like I'm paying for this device. So therefore I have a, just to have that sort of, what would you say as far as conversations we should have ahead of time with setting up expectations for kids?
[00:13:06] Dr Catherine Pearlman: Yeah, absolutely. Parents should let their kids know.
I am going to check your phone. I'm going to check your text. I'm going to check your social media. But the reason I'm checking it is not for you to get in trouble is to find learning opportunities for you. And then it's really important for parents to then not freak out, to not punish, to not. Go overboard with what they might see, because that's the reality, whatever you're seeing, that's the reality, the kind of language they're using, the kind of flirting that may be happening, that's the reality for them.
And so it's better for you to be able to have honest and open conversations. And as soon as you get punitive, your child shuts down, they hide things. They're not gonna talk to you anymore. And the idea is to continue with this ongoing conversation. And so I absolutely tell parents it should be in the contract.
I will check your phone, once your kids. 15. I don't think parents should be regularly checking their kid's phone unless there's a concern or worry, but you've had years to get to that. Years of learning. I remember I would see on my daughter's phone someone would, maybe text her a problem and she would write something like very swift back.
And I would say, okay, I think that probably was read wrong by the other person. It sounds like you don't care, but I know my daughter, she cared, but she didn't have the words to know how to respond or if she was texting a coach or even sending an email to a teacher, they. Coaching, they need mentoring.
And so sometimes they don't ask ahead of time, but we can see in on their phone, oh, you might have made a mistake here. This was maybe not how you wanted to present yourself, or you might have sent something, an image that you maybe would regret later or whatever. It's. So it's really important to think about our tone and to not lecture and to not be punitive, but to use it as an instructive tool and yes, by all means let your kids know you're going to.
[00:14:55] Hunter: I love what you're saying, because all the things we've talked about on the podcast up to that, all the things we talk about for early childhood, for elementary ages, about having, moving away from punitive old school Parenting that sets you on opposite sides of a battle the battle metaphor, right?
And like moving to team, we are on the same team. I am on your team and I am here to not judge you, but to guide you and coach you. that all applies here at the phone, cuz Catherine's absolutely right. Like it's just gonna be hidden. It's just gonna be sneaked if it's, if there are heart, if you're making punishments around stuff.
And what I'm seeing with my girls is, or with Maggie, who has the phone, is that I'll I'll we get a lot of consultation on how to say this or that. We talk about how to word this kind of thing or that, and it's funny. Have you noticed the. There's a whole thing where like the younger generation that has phones, they think that punctuation is rude, like periods.
Like they think if you put out a period at the end of a sentence, like you're, it's like too strong language. And I was like, what really? What's wrong with periods. Isn't this just the way we write things. That's like a whole thing. They don't like kids
[00:16:16] Dr Catherine Pearlman: grammars out. Yeah.
[00:16:18] Hunter: I know it was totally strange.
Okay. But let's go back to that earlier. Question about what are some apps that are more dangerous for kids just to be really blunt about
[00:16:33] Dr Catherine Pearlman: it. Oh, there, there are ones that are really nefarious. And I think parents do a pretty good job of keeping their kids off of some of those. But I really think Instagram TikTok are just as damaging to our kids.
Mental health. The more time they spend on any of these apps, it doesn't even matter if it's, the most dangerous. And I think that there are a lot of good guides in terms of if your kid is interested in something or you see an app on your kid's phone, Google it. Google, what do parents need to know?
Fill in the blank app and you will see common sense. Media has some great information. There's just, there's a lot of information out there, but I will say even the ones that we think of as safe. Are not without their dangers and that parents need to continue to have the conversation about what kind of things are you looking at?
Sit with your child on the couch and look at them, scroll, make it fun. What is your kid doing in the same way that I would tell parents if your kid is really into video games, you better learn to play video games because you wanna see what your kid is doing, and you wanna be able to meet them where they're at and interact with them.
So if your kid is sitting on the couch scrolling, let me see what you're looking. If they're really shying away from that, then that will tell you what are you looking at that I can't see. That'll be a lesson for you, but also I, it will be very informative to see what suggested to your child, what are the suggestions?
Because what happens on something like TikTok, and even on Instagram, if you're going through reels, it's not just who your child is following that they. There are so many suggested videos like on YouTube, and it's the suggestions that kind of veer kids off to the wrong thing pretty quickly. So it's good to sit down with them and see what they're doing, but I would say Google, any app your child wants to be in, but also even if you think it sounds like, oh, the kids have it and it's totally safe.
You need to pay
[00:18:35] Hunter: attention. Okay. Yeah. Cuz we have not. Maggie have Snapchat, cuz I'm just petrified of the Snapchat streak. I want her to be able to. Take breaks from the phone. This is what we model in our house is we take breaks from the phone. We plug the phone downstairs at nighttime.
We can talk about that and sleep in a minute. But but we wanna model, like in, we have a screen free Sunday, which we do our best to hang on to, but. But that's a thing that parents should know about Snapchat. Is that still a big thing? Things go away so quickly. I sound so old as I'm saying, oh my God I'm
[00:19:18] Dr Catherine Pearlman: just as old.
And that's exactly my point. It's we are outdated before we blink, kids are just so much more up to date, so they have to make the decisions. I don't think Snapchat is outdated. In fact, kids are not texting they're doing messaging on snap. So it's like you think your kid isn't texting, you don't see any texts.
You're looking for text. They're not there. That's because they're communicating within the app on Snapchat. And after Snapchat it'll be something else. By the time you catch up with Snapchat, it'll be something else because they know their parents are. Yeah. I think Maggie's into discord pretty quickly.
Discords like a communication, I have the same fears, but. Thing that I would recommend as your kids get to the older teen years is to give them these apps because they're gonna do it anyway, but do it with supervision. Let them have the app. Have a learning period, have a discussion period.
Show it to me. Let's learn it together. What are you seeing? What are you being approached by? Who is messaging you? Another thing like that is discord,
[00:20:20] Hunter: yeah. Yeah. That's why I was just saying Maggie's into discord cuz she talks about Minecraft stuff and friends with on discord and that's like a whole communication thing.
So tell me about it cuz I don't really know a
[00:20:32] Dr Catherine Pearlman: lot. So discord started as chatting within video games. And during the pandemic, my son would be in class and also on discord chatting with all his friends. And in the beginning, I was very much against it. I'm like, you have to close this, you have to be in school.
But then I realized like there is no socialization. That is how they are socializing. They're socializing within discord. Kids are not hanging out after school anymore. They're not talking on the phone. They're communicating through apps. And discord has all these like chat rooms and based on your interests.
So on Minecraft, let's say and the thing is it may be their friends or there may be other people that are strangers in those chat rooms. And one of the things that I think is important is to explain to kids. Sometimes someone acts like a kid talks like a kid. Seems just like a kid, but it is an adult predator who spent a year making friends with you only to ask you a year later, send them a picture.
Would you like to meet up, all these things that they're very invested, they take years. It's not like they just show up in the discord and Hey, send me a naked picture. It doesn't work like that. So sometimes people aren't who they are. They seem so there's a difference between our friends in real life and our friends on discord and even discord, which seems just like a fun chatting.
Has, predators in there as well embedded. Just having some basic safety rules with your kids when communicating online about not sharing your personal information being Mindful that not everybody is who they seem just being thoughtful about what you're saying in these rooms and you get, they get very relaxed because they've been chatting and these people seem like friends and some of their real friends are interspersed with those friends.
It's a very unusual community, but. Lots of not so great stuff is happening on discord, but also lots of great stuff is happening on discord. So again, it's important to let your kid have it, but be Mindful and be involved.
[00:22:32] Hunter: Yeah. Like discord is New York city street or something that like, but you can't tell who's who, and this is why dear listener, I cannot recommend Katherine's book enough first phone, because we're probably gonna forget some of the things that we wanna tell our kids and go over with our kids and just talking about sexuality and, all that stuff like it's should be an ongoing conversation. And a reference is really great to have. It's great for kids to just look it up on their own, and then they feel that sense of autonomy and ownership and responsibility a little bit more than if it's just coming from mom or dad, if they have some resistance to things that are coming from mom or dad, if it can be something that's right there in the house Hopefully and there's all kinds of great tips on all the things that your kids need to know, like how to make a good password.
And how to. All the things, that you do need to know all those, like basic things, but also like how do you take care of yourself in these things? Have you had any feedback to your, the, from kids to your self care, maybe specifically to that self care chapter, have you.
Have you heard anything from that?
[00:23:54] Dr Catherine Pearlman: So I've only had a few kid readers so far, cause the book isn't out by the time this airs, the book will be out, but it hasn't been out yet. And I think it's something kids are craving. They're asking for it that parents need to work more to provide screen free times of the day and set rules in the house.
We haven't talked about it, but I'm very firm on no phones or electronic devices in the bedrooms. and parents are very afraid of putting that into practice cuz they think their kids will really rebel against it and it'll be so hard to enforce. But what I have found when it's a non-negotiable kids love it.
They love having time where it's like, they know they don't have to argue with you. They just put the phones away and they have their break, a social break. I remember my daughter used to tell her friends, like I put my phone away at 10. So do not text me anything like important or scary or anxiety producing.
at nine 30, because I have put my phone down at 10 and she had such a relief having a break from her social life. So I think kids are craving the self care, honestly.
[00:25:00] Hunter: It's almost like the boundaries, where permissive Parenting, like we know that being too permissive leads, the research shows that leads to kids who feel like they're sometimes not cared for.
If we're too permissive, if we aren't holding those boundaries and our phone, the phones, it's the same thing for that. And those are okay, so house rules we have and that's a rule in our house that we have, like that all our phones are plugged in downstairs. And for a while I gave myself an exception to that rule.
Cause my phone was my alarm clock and it was on the other side of a long room. away from my bed. But man, did I get called out on that? And you cannot our kids are not gonna let us not. Walk the talk. So even if you're listening to this way before you give your kid a phone, like maybe you have a younger kid, start it now start the thing, the habits that you want, your 12 year old, your 13 year old, who's having a phone to have.
And one of those can be like, get just behind an alarm clock. For your room. And it's such a good, it's so much better for us to not pick up, turn, roll over from sleep and pick up the phone, but to have it, to be downstairs, to have some other things we do before we pick up the phone is a really healthy habit.
Yeah. Let's talk about rules in the house and sleep. Are there any rules in the other rules in the house that you recommend that we. So
[00:26:32] Dr Catherine Pearlman: obviously keeping everything outta the bedroom at night turning off everything an hour before bed, just to really have time to prepare for sleep and power down.
No phones during meals. We have so few times to actually connect with our kids and not be distracted by other things, driving in the car is a wonderful time and also meal time. So those are, obviously you can't use your phone while you're driving, but during meals, everyone puts their phone down.
And if one of the parents has a hard time with it, make a basket, make a rule, the kids will think it's. Everything goes there. The other thing that drives me crazy is the the apple watches because you put your phone away, but then, eyes are glancing down to the wrist and kids feel that they feel the sense that you're not paying attention to them.
So if you have a phone and a watch, they all have to go be put away. And I also like. Thinking about waking up in the morning and not having the first thing that they do is go down and get the phone and look at what's happening because when we were growing up, we had a social break. We had a break from the news.
We had a break from our social circles and that's our recharge. And nowadays. We and kids, we don't have that. So I like to have, even if you have a buffer period in the morning where we wake up, we get ready and then maybe we take a quick glance at our phone, or maybe we don't do it until after school or whatever works in your house.
But I certainly love the idea of a screen-free Sunday and or whatever works in your family could be a Saturday night. It could, whatever, but that we all put screens down and we spend time together or we communicate together. and a hundred percent what you said. I think a lot of parents have do, as I say, not as I do, but with digital, behavior, kids are watching us.
And if you don't have good digital manners in etiquette, your kids won't either. They absolutely will not. And you will not be able to enforce it. If you don't have kids with a phone start working on your own, digital etiquette, and it is not easy. These devices are actually made to keep us engaged.
And I think when we talk about it that way, then we can take away a little bit of the shame of feeling like, oh gosh, I just wanna look at my phone. Of course you wanna look at your phone, it's designed so that you can look at it. That's the whole point of all these apps and notifi. And bells and all these things.
Once we accept that and we try and work on it, even though it's hard, even though we're gonna fail, we keep working on it. Our kids will see that and see that is a value. That is a, that is important. And then they will follow suit.
[00:29:01] Hunter: Yeah, dear listener, you should check out if you haven't listened to already listen to the episode with Johan Hari who wrote a book recently on stolen focus and it's from, I don't have the number on the top of my head, but it's from this year in 2022.
So check out that. And you mentioned driving in the car. So one thing my 15 year old is totally annoyed at me at is that, with the exception of long road trips, like if we're just driving from swim practice to home, I'm like, Put your phone down, don't, you don't need to be doing that in the car on a short ride.
That's rude, I'm driving, we're here sharing space. And apparently it was funny cuz we haven't talked about this, but apparently my husband wasn't doing the same thing, but I was like, I'm sorry to me. I find that rude, so please put your phone down unless you need to do something quickly in the car, but then put it down.
Do you agree? Do you think this is a good idea? What should be the car etiquette? Cuz I can't imagine her. Like I would just feel so embarrassed if my child got in a car with some other person or immediately started like scrolling. I don't know, Instagram or something, I'd be like, oh my God raised it.
[00:30:16] Dr Catherine Pearlman: We're all raising degenerates, cuz even if that's ruin your car, she's still gonna go in someone else's car and do it because that's normative. Honestly. That is what they're doing. Yeah. But I love the rule of no screens in the car with you. Because again, driving in the car is one of the best places to talk to your kids.
You're not looking at each other. There's no pressure. Things are going on and moving around. So it is a sacred space to me to meet my kids where they're at. And so I love the idea of, no scrolling. If you have to send a text or make a call that's of course, go ahead and you're listening and being part of that process.
But yeah, there's no reason that we need to scroll and, divert our attention in the car while they're sitting with you. So I.
[00:31:00] Hunter: All right. Cool. You join me dear listener. We'll be the we'll fight. Fight the suction of our kids' attention away into the boxes. Okay. Sleep. We know there's so many factors going against our kids sleep.
By the time they get to this age, like 11, 12, they need 10 hours of sleep. Like high school students. They need nine hours of sleep. And at least my daughter's high school, she goes to the local public high school. It starts ridiculously early time in the morning. And her circadian rhythms, it's all stacked up against her anyway.
Yeah. What do you, so you write about sleep in here. What should be our conversations about sleep with our kids?
[00:31:47] Dr Catherine Pearlman: So first is just how important sleep is. I think generally we are a society of sleep deprived people we're busy, we're doing more than we need to do. Like being busy has become a virtue.
We're just loading our plates and our kids are also really busy and also not getting the sleep they need. And so even before screens and cell. We know the downsides of not getting enough sleep, and especially in young people in teens not getting enough sleep, which is, nine, 10 hours is a rise in depression and anxiety, which I'll talk a little bit about why that's skyrocketed and also a loss of attention, loss of memory grades go down lower coping skills a whole host of things and including, problematic eating.
Just a lot of negative side effects to just not getting enough sleep. So what will happen to teens is that, around 2012 to 2017, the majority of teens started getting cell phones. And at the same time, the mental health crisis for teens also went up. And so that's a correlation. It's not that we can say that the cell phone is causing these things, but what we do know is more kids have cell phones, smart.
And the majority of those kids are sleeping with their cell phones. And about 30% of the kids that are sleeping with their cell phones are sleeping with them on their pillow. Oh gosh. What happens when the kid has their phone, especially on their pillow is they are texting. They are looking at notifications.
They are, involved in their peer group all night long. So they have interrupted sleep on top of not getting enough full. And so if we put all the information together, we don't have a conclusive study to say, cell phone is doing this, but we have a lot of the pieces that we can put together to say, kids are not getting enough sleep.
There are dire consequences and their phones have a lot to do with it. I think it's. The most easiest, smallest, quickest fix is just to keep them outta the bedroom that alone can improve. Sleep can improve. Mood, can improve, focus, can improve. Grades, can improve social skills. All these things can happen just by keeping it out.
So that's a super easy fix to me. And I actually was laughing when you said about the alarm clock, I just was like making promotional things for the book. And I made a sticker that basically said, buy an alarm clock. Because it's the most common thing I hear. It's valid. I get it, but that's an easy fix.
We know that our kids are suffering. It's not okay. And this is one thing as parents we can really do to make a difference is keep those phones out of the bedroom.
[00:34:32] Hunter: That's gotta be in the contract from the beginning. Like this thing gets plugged in downstairs every night. Yeah. We talk about that a lot.
[00:34:41] Dr Catherine Pearlman: But I also
wanna say, if you didn't have that rule or somehow you did, and things changed, something happened with the pandemic or you went on vacation and the phones were in the room and you came home. You can change that rule at any time, you can have a 16 year old and you say the rules are changing, and this is non-negotiable.
And this goes back to my first book of ignore it. You're gonna hear all kinds of flack. Your kid is gonna be very angry, but after three days of non-negotiable it's over your kid accepts it and you can make that change. So even if you didn't do it, it's not all lost. You can make that change at any time, just make it a non-negotiable and that.
[00:35:19] Hunter: Okay. All right, cool. Oh, I think this is so helpful. I don't know. I'm trying to think is. We talked about the rise in anxiety and depression. I guess these are things we wanna talk to our kids about too. And even that correlation between the phones and the rise in anxiety and depression and some of the ways that it adds to it, right?
I guess the ways that adds to are the sleep factor are the comparison factor. What are some of the simple, maybe what are some of the talking points that we wanna just give to our kids in that conversation?
[00:36:00] Dr Catherine Pearlman: I think because so many kids are anxious and. That it almost is normal.
If you actually hear how teens talk to each other, it is not abnormal for any given teen to know somebody who is basically crying for help in a Instagram story or on a Snapchat post or something. Or to have somebody who was so depressed that they had to go into residential treatment.
This is the norm, but I think because it's the norm kids think like it's no big deal or there's nothing we can do about it. And I think it's really important for parents to say, this does not have to be the norm. Like you living with this kind of anxiety where you don't feel comfortable going out in the world or communicating with people face to face that is.
Have to be that way and we can get help, we can get treatment. So I do really recommend parents talk to their kids about what should be our mental health and what is our mental health and that difference. And then how we can address that by getting treatment and looking through some of these posts with your kids, or even looking like sometimes I'll have something that raises something in me.
And I might even say to my kids. I actually just unfollowed this person because I was finding that they were making me very anxious. Every time I saw one of the posts or I was feeling angry or feeling like I wasn't doing enough, or I wasn't as good. One of the things I talk about in the book is influencers.
And I think that kids look at influencers and don't realize that these are paid advertisements, like commercials, and that we don't think of them in the same way. We get to know these influencers. Sometimes we feel like they're our best friends, they're in our family. Like we really know everything about them in some ways.
So we feel like they're very honest and very true, but they're selling a product and they are getting paid for every and every share that you are doing and breaking that down for kids. So they can see that woman's life isn't like that woman's house doesn't look like that kid doesn't really have that car they're posing in front of it or that whatever the thing is.
But to really break down Instagram, basically, Influencing advertisers so that they can see them for what they are, because once you see behind the curtain, Then we can go back to feeling good about our body. Good about our lives. Good about our vacations. Like sure. It'd be wonderful to go on a vacation to Hawaii, but that's not getting paid for.
One of the things that drives me insane is people who are having plastic surgery as influencers that is getting paid for. And then, all their posts are about their wonderful bodies, their wonderful faces, whatever it may be. and that was paid for as an advertisement, basically that this person had surgery.
Once you break that down for kids, they really see it very differently. And hopefully that breaks some of the effects that these people have on our young people.
[00:38:51] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah, we'd hope so. It's interesting because we don't see as much like I remember being a kid and being raised to be this funky spunky, go getter kid.
But then we lived down the street from a liquor store and the liquor store always had these posters with like bodacious bikini models on draped, on cars with alcohol and , I would see these images and I. Feeling a disconnect as a kid between sort of the messages I was getting in my family versus these bodacious bikini models.
You used to see everywhere in the eighties and early nineties. And, I guess see them as much anymore, but I guess that whole thing has transferred. And that is something that we should pay attention to that has transferred into social media, depending on what, what your, what things are being shown to your kid.
Another plug for, get in there and check out what's going on. All right, Katherine, this is amazing. I love the book. What did we miss that we need to tell parents about? I feel like we've talked about a lot of incredible important things, but there is so much more detail in first phone, so you definitely should check it out.
What do we miss? Katherine? What do we, should we leave the listener?
[00:40:11] Dr Catherine Pearlman: I would just say one point that we didn't talk about is digital consent. And this is something that parents don't do with their own kids. And it's something we really need to change the way we operate as a family. And so we need to teach kids.
You cannot post anything of anyone else. Without asking permission first, you can't assume you have to say, is it okay with you if I post this picture? And if you get a no, that's it. Even if you think it's the best picture in the world, even if you think your friend looks beautiful, it's a no, but the thing is, what are parents doing?
They're posting their kids and they're not asking permission and that's very bad modeling. And I think that, we are also involved in social media culture. Getting likes and shares just as much as our kids do, but especially moving into the teen years, we really need to think about digital consent and modeling that for our kids and talking to our kids about how they can get consent before they share or text or tweet
[00:41:10] Hunter: anything.
Yeah, I think that is so important. Yeah. It's interesting. Cuz if you've been a Mindful Mama podcast listener and followed me on Instagram, you probably saw way back in the day. There were a lot, it was a lot more personal. There were a lot more pictures of me and my kids, but I started to ask them for consent at some point along the way.
And I realized this and. Man. It kills me to have that amazing picture and not be able to post it at all on social media. You'd think my 15 year old does not exist, but she does exist. But but yeah, I think that is something that is really important and we have to start to think about it. It's interesting.
Cuz there's like an age, right? Everyone wants to see the baby. Pictures of the toddler and things like that. And then there's an, there's an age, we at, we, as parents decide that digital con consent at some point, but then at some point there, that's part of respecting who you are as a human being to say do you and modeling that respect, but yeah, we need to be doing that as well for, with our kids, for our.
I appreciate that is an important thing that we did not wanna miss. I love that. Thank you. Katherine, it's so great to have you back on the Mindful Mama podcast. I'm so glad that we were able to chat again. Katherine's first book. Ignore it. I remember, I love that. It's a great episode. Let, hold on.
I'll I'll get the episode number for you. Dear listener. And and I love this book. Dear listener, go back and listen to Catherine's first episode on the Mindful Mama podcast, episode two 12, we talked during the quarantine how to start by being quarantined with your kids, but those are actually lessons that are very appropriate in any time.
And definitely check out first phone, if you are ever gonna get your kid a phone, which I imagine you might be. I love it. Like I said, I'll be getting my copy, Catherine. Thank you so much for coming on the Mindful mom of podcast for writing this book. I think it's so important. So empowering for kids and parents.
It's great. I appreciate you taking the effort and the time to come share this work with us here today.
[00:43:35] Dr Catherine Pearlman: Thank you so much. I always love chatting with you. Appreciate.
[00:43:39] Hunter: Catch new episodes of the Mindful Mama podcast and other free resources, including the Mindful mom guide at Mindful Mama mentor.com.
You can listen to every back catalog episode, including interviews with Dr. Dan Siegel, Yala Vanzant, Sharon Salberg and get meditations. Join our private Facebook group and more. Go to Mindful Mama mentor.com. Now I'll see you there.