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Author: Penny

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Wondering if those 3 hours of unboxing toys videos is having an effect on your child's brain development? How do we balance virtual learning and regular fun screen use when it feels as though we are online for hours on end? Do my kids REALLY need to get outdoors daily? These are some of the questions that made a mom of 2 preschoolers (4 & 2) seek out answers for. Drawing from her work as a mental health nurse practitioner; Penny distills the scientific and medical data on screen use and makes it relatable to the parent just trying to make dinner and in need of someone to build a fort with the kids. Screens 'n' Kids will provide insight into why, now more than ever, we need to preserve the early childhood years. It will also share practical tools on how we can (and need to) put our phones down and look up more - recognizing that we must still find a "digital sweet spot" for our kids to interact with technology. We will engage with parents navigating these digital waters, leaders in the field of the early years - childhood educators, speech therapists, children's book authors & get to hear from recovered gaming addicts. Listen in every two weeks and lets unpack this thing together.
19 Episodes
Chukwu Emeka is a lawyer and university instructor who joins us from Lagos Nigeria. He is passionate about all things digital safety that pertain to children rights, protecting children online and shares the importance of why having a solid parent-child relationship goes a long way in empowering kids in navigating the digital sphere. He shared tips on what to look out for that make kids low lying fruit in the minds of online groomers and how as parents we can safeguard from this. Some of my takeaways from this conversation: A prepared child is less of a target : have those difficult conversations and have them early. Child predators capitalize on children's curiosity, innocence and desire to please parents  As a parent, connect, connect connect before you disconnectResources Wise and Harmless - #lagosmums#digitalsafety#childrenonline#onlinepredators#connectbeforeyoudisconnect#
Our guest on the podcast - Meghan Cox Gurdon  is an essayist, book critic, and former foreign correspondent who has been the Wall Street Journal’s children’s book reviewer since  2005. Her work has appeared widely, in publications such as the Washington Examiner, the Daily Telegraph and the Washington Post.Meghan shows how reading out loud offers a refreshing, fast-working antidote to the fractured attention spans, atomized families, and unfulfilling distractions of the tech era. From a thrilling look at what happens in a toddler’s brain when a grownup reads a story, to the way shared books are keeping far-flung military families connected; from the imaginative transport of classic novels, to the rejuvenating late-life consolations of the spoken word: the evidence is clear and the benefits irrefutable.To purchase the book Quotes from the book"The sight of a parent or teacher sitting down with a book attracts young children like iron fillings to a magnet." Meghab Cox GurdonWhen we read with a child, we are doing so much more than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language. We are doing something that I believe is just as powerful..we are teaching that child to be human.” Anna DewdneyIf you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. Albert Einstein“When a child asks for the same story again and again, he is telling us something important, though we may never find out what the important thing is. The book may be helping him perform quiet interior work having to do with fear or sadness he cannot articulate.”"Please read to your kids. Its not the schools job to get our kids reading, its our job – and it’s a wonderful, magical act of love and caring. James Patterson“There is no genius in Silicon Valley who has yet devised a machine half as effective for teching and There is one thing the purveyors of electronic toys and child-oriented tech would rather not say. They are no match for us nurturing the young mind as a flawed, fallible, physically present human being.” Meghan Cox"Picture books enhance the time parents and children spend together. Its like adding an extra shot of espresso to a café latte."Human beings need to feel competent at what they do, they need to feel authentic in their lives and they need to feel connected to others.  Sebastian Junger Bookstagram#Raisingreaders#Emergentliteracy#Theenchantedhour#MomsofIG#Readaloudrevival#Readaloudfamily#reading#homeschooling#Literacy#Kidsbooks#Childrensbookillustration#Diversebooks#Hereweread#Literacymatters#Readtoyourkids#Parenting#Dadswhoread#The30millionwordgap#Blackbabybooks#Storytime#vocabulary#Bedtimestories#Goodnightmoon#Read#JKRowlings
Our guest today, Brooke Shannon is the founder and executive director of Wait Until 8th. A national organization that empowers parents to say yes to waiting for the smartphone. She was also gracious in sharing tips on what to do if as a parent you feel you could have waited a little longer to hand your kid a smartphone. Brooke is here to tell you its never too late.  I love their mission – Let kids be kids a little longer as is it is so aligned with our work here. Take a listen#waituntil8th#delayistheway#letkidsbekidsalittlelonger#preservetheearlyyears#smartphones#kids#backtoschool#RESOURCES: Wait Until 8th Pledge - Wait Until 8th pledge empowers parents to rally together to delay giving children a smartphone until at least 8th grade.  By banding together, this will decrease the pressure felt by kids and parents alike over the kids having a smartphone. Screen Strong  Families - is an alternative way to raise kids in a screen-dependent world. If you are ready to stop the screen conflicts in your home and prevent screen addiction, we can help. Through our ScreenStrong program, we empower parents to take the lead and rethink cultural childhood screen trends, rebuild life skills, and reconnect families distracted by screen overuse.
Our guests today - yes guests - today we have two guests! Jenifer and Kay bring years of experience working in the field of education – meeting both the socio-emotional and academic needs of kids. As new moms, they had so many questions about screen time and couldn't find clear answers! Like many parents with little ones, they found it hard to navigate the minute limits, all of the different shows, and the guilt that comes with screens! This led them to dig into the research, ask the questions, combine it with their background as therapists to bring us a parent curated course and community -  Raising Tech-Wise Littles. To quote from their most recent newsletter, "Our course, Raising Tech-Wise Littles, is NOT for everyone. We are organic and whole-child based, but we are super hippies that hang kale stalks off our necks. We are science-based, but not lectury or boring. We are for modern families who want realistic, research-backed tips they can use today. Families that have tech, use tech, love their iPhones, and still want tech health in their families. We stand for working families, stay-at-home families, and families who want to shed the guilt and gain confidence on tech.They were so spot on - no beating about the bush - just hardcore research backed facts. If you have a little one, are expecting a little one - this is the episode for you! #techwiselittles#screenlite#screensnkids#
Our guest today, Marlene Power founded the Carp Ridge Forest Preschool ; Canada's first outdoor, nature-based Forest Preschool. She was also part of the creation of Forest School Canada, a national initiative to promote nature-based education through Forest School and Nature School professional learning, policy and research. Marnie was so graceful in sharing her journey to being at the heart of the forest school movement in Canada and she shared the language that is beneficial for kids around risky play that fosters their confidence. Lots to learn, grab a coffee and lets dive in.#forestschool#outdoorliving#friluftsliv#getthemoutside#nature#playbasedlearningResources: The Child and Nature Alliance of Canada - ReferencedBalanced & barefoot Quotes referenced: "We do not stop playing because we grow old we grow old because we stop playing. "  - George Shaw " Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are."
Our guest on the podcast today, co-founded The Family Dinner Project -  a non-profit based out of Boston, MA whose slogan is food, fun and conversations about things that matter. Dr. Anne Fishel is a clinical psychologist and director of the Family & couples therapy at Mass General Hospital. She describes family dinners as “a seatbelt in the potholed road of childhood & adolescence.” She is the co-author of Eat, Laugh Talk: the family dinner playbook and the book Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids. There are several research-backed benefits to families having dinner together at the table such as increased vocabulary especially in preschoolers, lower risk of substance abuse & depression and greater resilience just to name a few.Some of my take-aways from this conversation were: Family dinners need not be fancy or grand.The "secret sauce" to a successful dinner is the atmosphere we create - through conversation and even gamesThere are many ways to engage picky (selective) eaters at the tableUsing technology practically to have conversations with tweens and teens during dinnerFamily dinners could even be breakfasts or late night snacks - its the connection, enjoyment and stability we should be focused on.Resources The Family Dinner Project - Laugh Talk - the Family Dinner Playbook -order here - for Dinner - order here - It is the job of parents to decide what, where and when the kids should it; but it is the job of the kids to decide how much and whether to eat   - Emily Sader#kids#familydinnerproject#conversations#screens#kids#fun#food#
When I found Jerrica Sannes account on Instagram, I felt a certain liberation to not feel the urge to constantly be thinking of ways to entertain the kids every waking hour. Instead, I am learning to give them the agency to come up with creative ways to engage with boredom and independent play.  Unstructured time is really the gift that keeps on giving.We had a deep dive of a conversation from education in the early years, finding yourself after having children and most important she shared insight into choosing quality kids shows/ screen time based on her ranking system. She literally sits down and reviews and rates kids shows on things like attention, diversity etc. We laughed we shared great insight we laughed some more. It was really such a great one.  Some of the preferred shows are: The Snowy DayTrash TruckIf You Give a Mouse a CookieAngela’s ChristmasBug DiariesGuess How Much I Love YouStella and SamBlueyElinor Wonders WhyHer second best shows are: StillwaterLlama LlamaLittle Bear,Puffin RockJulia Donaldson Movies – such as The Gruffalo and ZogTumble Leaf#qualityscreentime#momsofinstagram#screens#kids#unstructuredplay#boredom#creativity#wonder#cocomelon#persuausivedesign#earlychildhood#overstimulation#preservetheearlyyears#wildthings#letthemplay#unschooling#homeducation#RESOURCES: Find Jerrica on Instagram @JerricaSannes.Website - raisewildflowers.comBOOKS: The Happiest kids in the world : Bringing up children the Dutch Way - Michele Hutchinson Rina Mae AcostaVictoria Dunckley - Reset your child's brain Chasing Slow - Erin LoechnerQuotes: "Children are not dogs to be trained, they are humans to be loved."
Brenee Brown once said, “Everyone has a story that will break your heart, and if you pay really close attention, everyone has a story that will bring you to your knees.” My guest today shared with me her sons story with gaming addiction that left me speechless and yet his journey to recovery and her fight for him gave me so much hope. Elaine Uskoski empowers parents with the information and strategies needed to deal with their child’s compulsive behavior with video gaming / screen addiction. She has learned through her own personal experience helping her son overcome his video gaming addiction.We had such a rich conversation from the role of parents in supporting their child in navigating compulsive gaming use, the different types of gamers to help identify where your child or loved one is and the road to recovery tainted by the lingering and occasional fear of relapse. The question that stuck with me the most from this conversation was when Elaine asked her son, “What do you need?” Often times as humans we are so quick to fix people, offer advice and try rescue them from whatever situation they are in. But if we stop for a moment and meet people in their hurt and pain and instead ask, “what do you need?” we are halfway in solving the problem. Truly enjoyed this one – hope you will too and pass it along!#gamingaddiction#momsofgamers#gamingcommunity#persuasivedesign#caregiverburden#intentadigital#youarenotalone#kidswhogame#To connect with Elaine Uskoski through her website for consultation and coaching - Elaine Books -Cyber Sober : A Caregiver's Guide to Video Gaming Addiction through the Cracks Digital - INTENTA is at the forefront of the global conversation on how to address the emerging behavioural digital addiction crisis. Rather than advocating for less technology and digital use, we envision a world where technology supports our shared well-being.
Nicole Rawson is a former middle & high school teacher, digital wellness expert and founder of Screen Time clinic - a network of professionals empowering families and businesses to reach their ideal level of functioning by clarifying digital wellness priorities through seminars, group courses, and personalized guidance. She wears many hats from entrepreneurial to real estate brokerage and also collaborating projects in healthcare and housing. What piqued my interest the most is that for over 10 years she raised her two boys navigating digital media and screen time use as a single mum.In addition, she wrote the book Screen Smart Sam which was written to reach families with very young children. Nicole was a wealth of information - lots to learn so sit back and lets dive in. Resources: ScreenTime clinic - Smart Sam - This read-aloud story is a great conversation starter for parents to talk about why limiting screen time is necessary and encourages social emotional learning opportunities.Featuring easy-to-understand science about the addictive nature of screens and how it affects the body and brain, this internationally-acclaimed book engages young kids & parents to think about how their time would be better served interacting with others off-line.Order book -
Ever wonder where that missing sock went? How about that last piece of a puzzle set? Are these items just lost? Maybe, or perhaps the Invisibles had something to do with it. The Invisibles are adorable, imaginative creatures that like to hide and cause a little trouble now and then. Children are the only ones to help keep them out of mischief. But children have been too busy on their screens lately.The Invisibles are bored, and chaos follows. Can children find time for both screens and the real world? Or will the Invisibles…be invisible…forever?Our guest on the podcast Eleanor Chun is writer and children's book author. She  wrote a children's books geared towards kids in the early years to enhance that sense of self regulation around screen time use and also highlight the value of imaginative play. I really enjoyed having this conversation with Eleanor - there was a lightheartedness and playfulness that kids need to see more from us as adults. Thank you for your time and bringing us this book. You can grab a copy of the book at and also follow Eleanor @eleanorchun.
If you are like myself with little ones navigating these digital waters, it is most likely you have come across surprise eggs and unboxing toys videos.  I see the views on these videos and wonder what has captivated my kids and 5million other little eyeballs on these? What is so alluring about watching another little person take out a toy from a box to show you how to play with it? Or watching hands fly Sky from paw patrol across a screen? Our guest on the podcast is here to help us unpack this together. Harsha Ganga brings his years of academic and professional experience in advertising and really just his personal experience as a dad that led him to carry out a research project on “the unboxing phenomena.” He also shares tips on how to help us help our kids navigate the advertising space; both at a micro and macro level.Harsha is an associate professor of advertising at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research interests focus on new and emerging media, social & economic effects of advertising & environmental communication. He is the current president of the American Academy of Advertising - an organization of advertising scholars and professionals with an interest in advertising and advertising education. He holds a BE in Electrical Engineering from Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology (India), an MA in Advertising from Michigan State University, and a PhD in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. This was a deep dive of a conversation – I loved how he incorporated the psychology piece behind his work as relates to advertising and commercialization of childhood. It was great. Fix your coffee and lets dive in.Resources:American Psychological Association. Advertising and Children. guidelines for influencers:, Susan. 2005. Consuming kids: Protecting our children from the onslaught of marketing and advertising. Anchor.Einstein, Mara. 2016. Black ops advertising: Native ads, content marketing, and the covert world of the digital sell. OR Books.Evans, Nathaniel J., Mariea Grubbs Hoy, and Courtney Carpenter Childers. 2018. "Parenting “YouTube natives”: the impact of pre-roll advertising and text disclosures on parental responses to sponsored child influencer videos." Journal of Advertising 47, no. 4: 326-346.Evans, Nathaniel J. 2014. "Pinpointing Persuasion in Children's Advergames: Exploring the Relationship Among Parents’ Internet Mediation, Marketplace Knowledge, Attitudes, and the Support for Regulation." Journal of Interactive Advertising 14, no. 2: 73-85.#unboxing#screensnkids#AmericanAcademyofAdvertising#harshaG#persuasivedesign#kidsadvertising#Ryantoys#childinfluencers#commercializationchildhood#influencermarketing#science&screens#centerforhumanetechnology#
Our guest today, says she was that mum hauling around the heavy diaper bag when her kids were younger filled with books and all sorts of other activities to keep them preoccupied; from restaurants to doctors appointments. Kailan Carr is a mom of 2 kids who is passionate about screen-free activities, learning through play, and creating hands on kid-friendly projects through her organization – The Quiet Book Queen. Before she had children, she taught in early elementary school and earned her Master's in Literacy and a Reading Specialist Credential.I got my hands one of her books – the Toddlers science activity book and it kept my preschoolers engaged for 2-3 hours which is A LONG time in pre-school nation.. Lots of experiments & activities - all with materials that at minimum you can find in your pantry.. She even gives a messy rating of each activity which for me was so helpful as it prepared me mentally lol. In this conversation, she shares her journey to creating her first quiet book and how it has been a lifesaver on those long road trips. She had great insight on the value of play and literacy and why we really must preserve the early years. Take a listen#toddleractivities#screenfreesummer#preservetheearlyyears#toddlerscience#screenfreeparenting#engagethesenses#quietbookqueen#messyplay#sciencenkids#keeptoddlersbusy
The gaming industry is said to be worth the movie and music industry combined. While not all gaming is created equal, not all kids are created equal. My guest today battled gaming addiction, came out on the other side and went back in the battlefield to rescue other young people struggling to regain their lives again.  Cam Adair is the founder of Game Quitters - the world’s largest support community for video game addiction, serving 75,000 members in 95 countries. He also co-founded – Intenta – an internationally renown organization whose role is to equip professionals with resources on managing digital disorders. We had such a rich conversation on being on the receiving end of bullies, the role his parents played in going to the digital battlefield for him and how one night at the movies saved his life – literally. There was such a tenderness in this conversation and yet it was so empowering; There are resources for gaming support in the show notes and great advice Cam shared -  I hope you get some good nuggets here you can pass along.#gamingaddiction#wholeheartedliving#intentadigital#digitalwellness#gamingindustry#e-sports#dopamine#camadair#gamequitters#MMORPG#preservetheearlyyears#gamingcommunity#fortnite#worldofwarcraft#minecraft#parentsupportgaming# RESOURCES Game Quitters - members in our community forums from over 95 countries. Meet like-minded people on the same journey as you.Game quitters parents facebook groupIntenta Digital - from diverse fields of mental health, addiction, technology and neuroscience, we synthesize and share the most up to date worldwide research on problematic digital use.reSET Summer Camp for Gaming addiction - Summer Camp offers a fully immersive, clinical program hosted on a university campus, providing a fun-filled summer camp atmosphere. Participants are able to detox from their screen addiction and learn how to self-regulate, as they participate in individual and group therapy. Books referenced: Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl Quotes in episode: Hard is HardThe last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances 
My guest Today Jenny Hoey -  was more than kind in sharing her daughters’ story after an encounter online that led her to start the group Not My Kid - a group focused on keeping kids safe online, with an emphasis on delaying exposure to screens.She had such wisdom into how as parents we can be that soft landing spot and hold space for our kids to allow us into places that are so tender for them. We went deep from shame to normalizing difficult conversations and how child predators capitalize on kids innocence and curiosity. My take home from this episode was connect, connect, connect. Connect with your kids online and offline. Big Tech is not going to protect our kids – they only have a voracious appetite for their attention. “We have to be willing to sacrifice our time and attention to meet this generation in the trenches of the digital battlefield and pioneer a path forward together. The by-product of such sacrifice is a relationship forged in battle and love; it will not be shaken easily.” – Lisa Frost, The Fallacy of Neutrality.#onlinepredators#childhoodpredators#digitalsafety#childwellness#connect#screensnkids#ChildrenOnlinePrivacyProtectionAct#preservetheearlyyears#childrensmentalhealth#Resources: Not my Kid - - Notmykid_everProtect Young Eyes - show families, schools, and churches how to create safer digital spaces. We do this with a pretty great website, super fly presentations, and a unique learning app for parents who have ZERO free timeBARK Technologies - www.bark.usConnect to 30+ platforms to monitor text messages, emails, and social activity for signs of harmful interactions and content.Quotes : – If we share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, our shame cannot survive. Shame loves secrecy, silence and judgment - Brenee Brown
My guest on todays podcast wrote a book that changed my outlook on how I interact with the outdoors. Like literally after I read her book I stopped whining and complaining each time we had to get those snow suits on the kids to get outside in the dead of Canadian winter months. If you have little ones, teenagers, anyone -  grab a copy of Linda McGurks book - There is no such thing as bad weather. Her writing has been featured in Time magazine and in this conversation We reflected on her childhood in Sweden and the cultural shift she saw when she moved to Indiana. From outdoor cooking to adventure play & forest schools, she shared great insight on our attitude as parents towards the outdoors and why now more than ever we need our kids to embrace nature and all she has to offer. She is also working on a new book which I cannot wait for its release.#friluftsliv#Scandinavianparenting#kids&screens#kids&outdoors#nature&kids#midsommar#Mulle#solfattig#udeskole#barnvargn#outdoorgear#nature#messyplay#riskyplay#thereisnosuchthingasbadweather#hygge#riskyplay#messyplay#forestschools#Swedishkids#preservetheearlyyears#LindaMcgurk#outdoorliving#getoutside#forestschools#allemanstratten# Link to order book
Michael Jacobus has been a leader in the Summer Camp landscape for over 30 years. 3 years ago however, he started  the 1st summer camp program in the world to treat unhealthy screen time overuse and gaming addiction. reSET Summer camp is a 4-week immersive program out of Santa Barbara, California where youth are hosted on university campuses to experience what life might be like after leaving home to attend college or just getting out on their own in an apartment. At the camp, the kids learn basic life skills from as simple as boiling an egg to financial literacy. It was such a deep dive of a conversation - from the role of dopamine in gaming creation to the role of parents in either enabling or disabling excess gaming use. What I really loved was hearing about the spark return in kids eyes who had previously been gaming for hours on end. Take a listen#reSETsummercamp#gaming#detox#addiction#Nintendo#Sega#Fortnite#Minecraft#Gamecoachacademy#worldofwarcraft#videogaming#mentalhealth#screensnkids#lifeskills&gaming#clinicalcampgaming#parentingteens#parentingwins#esports#persuausivedesign#gamers#dopamine#parentsofgamers#boyswhogame#girlsgametoo#preservetheearlyyears Resources - Registration link etcBooks quoted Boys Adrift - Leonard Sax  -The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
Kids are hardwired for a sense of novelty and new experiences. Travel meets this need and also their sense of wonder and imagination as they try new experiences, taste different food and meet new people. After having kids, (especially when they are young) travel becomes a lofty idea in the rearview mirror due to all the moving parts involved - but my guest has a different take. Jennifer Allen is a mum of three who is the founder behind Wonders Within Reach - a special needs based travel family organization.  Together with her husband and three kids - one who requires assistive devices to aid in his mobility, they hike bike and travel sharing in their experiences.#screensnkids#travel&inclusion#disabilitytravel#faith&travel#preservetheearlyyears#travelkids#kidswhoexplore#wonder#travel#earlyyears#disabledtravel#inclusion#respite#kindnessWonders Within Reach Respite resources A Mother's Rest: A nonprofit, unique, nationwide, affordable respite & fellowship experience exclusively for parents & caregivers of loved ones with disabilities. Hope:Nathaniel's Hope was founded in 2002 after four-year-old Nathaniel Timothy Kuck relocated to Heaven. The organization celebrates kids with special needs (our VIPs) as well as educates and equips communities and churches to provide FREE respite care and programs to enrich the lives of VIP families. Quotes: "Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see." "You either risk a no or you take a no."
Our first guest this season, is a dad of three who has been swimming with sharks and diving in bat caves as part of his research work, but what he says scares him the most is what kids are missing out on in their childhood by being constantly on devices. Dan Riskin is an evolutionary biologist who produced an epic documentary at the height of the pandemic called, "Babies scroll before they can crawl." He was so kind in extending grace to parents as we try and  survive "pandemic parenting" - which some days has felt like I am gasping for air.#screensnkids#fatherhood&science#pandemicparenting#fatherhood#screendetox#screenresearch#babiesscrollbeforetheycancrawl#CTV#DanRiskin#kidsbrainsonscreens#delaydevices#pandemicscreenstime# Documentary: Babies Scroll before they can crawl Books Referenced: Glow Kids - Nikolas KardarasThe Enchanted Hour - The Miraculous power of reading aloud in the age of distractionQuotes: "Genetics loads the gun the environment fires the trigger." - Soania Mathur
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