At START, we often talk about how this generation of parents is breaking new ground. Smartphones have changed our social and cultural landscape, and they’ve given rise to unprecedented challenges for parents as they discern how to introduce them to their kids.
For START co-founder Krista Boan, these aren’t abstract questions. From the beginning, she knew smartphones were in her kids’ future, and 2021 was the year she took the leap with her oldest daughter.
On this episode of the podcast, the tables are turned; she’s on the other side of the interview table and her friend and START tem member Adam Reck is interviewing her. Adam has years of experience working with kids as a mentor and a student minister at Krista’s church. He’s also seen countless families make this transition. In this conversation, they compare notes and share wisdom as Krista discusses the steps her family took to introduce a new smartphone, the roles apps and filters can use, and the importance of wisdom, communication, and connection with your kids.
Screen Sanity is Executive Produced by Krista Boan and START.
It is produced and edited by Mike Cosper for Cosper Productions.
[00:00:00] Krista Boan: Hey everyone, welcome to the Screen Sanity Podcast. I’m your host, Krista Boan, co-founder of START, where we help families raise happy and healthy kids in a world that is increasingly digital. We’ve had hundreds of conversations with parents everywhere who share that the number one battle ground in their homes, it screen time. And while we’ve learned that there is no easy button when it comes to parenting today’s kids, there is also an unbelievable movement of parents who are stepping into the arena and fighting for their kid’s hearts. Each episode, our guest will help us dive into some of the tensions families are facing, and walk us through some of the conversations you’ll wanna have to prepare your kids for the road ahead. Welcome to Screen Sanity.
So many of you know that part of my journey as a co-founder of START has been walking alongside you on the path of preparing my own children for the milestone of giving them a smartphone. And when I say journey, it’s like a little movie reel flashes in my mind and it’s filled with memory after memory of all these conversations that we’ve been able to have at START, and all the lessons I’ve learned. And so some of those conversations look like experts on the field who are generously sharing their research and their insights. And some of those moments are with parents who are just, you know, being open and honest about their screen time struggles and asking us hard questions that we don’t always know the answers to, and kinda graciously allowing and inviting START to learn through their mistakes and their fears, and their hopes, and their victories.
But this little movie reel in my head doesn’t just include experts and other parents, it also includes the journey with my own kids. And if I’m being honest with you, there have been moments in my journey as a parent where all of the wisdom and the advice that I’ve received has just fallen to the ground because no matter how many tips and tricks I’ve learned or that I have at my sleeve, the reality is that parenting is not for the faint of heart. [laughs] And I’ve heard [Bernie Brown 00:02:12] describe it as a rickety, swinging bridge that to me would be terrifying to cross. You know, the kind of go over that gorge that’s like 1000 feet below you. And so, you know, for our generation, it can feel like sometimes there are no handrails as we walk over this bridge and we walk our kids through the digital.
START was partly founded because I could see that rickety bridge off in the distance. [laughs] Marking the point where I would give my child… my oldest child her first smartphone and I was terrified of that bridge, you guys, I was dreading it. So along with my co-founders, I began just, you know, desperately knocking on doors, trying to gain wisdom from other people to prepare her for that big moment of transition when we would step onto that bridge and we would give her her first phone. Well, this summer we got to the bridge, y’all. We are in the process of putting our toes onto that swinging bridge. And some of it is exactly as rickety as I imagined, and some of it is stuff I didn’t see coming, and some of it is just, it’s okay. And I know that some of you are crossing this bridge at the same time as me or maybe you’ve already crossed, but I also know that there are so many of you listening because you were me several years ago, doing your best to get prepped and ready for that swinging, rickety bridge in the distance and, and if that’s you, this episode is for you.
So here’s what I did. I invited a friend and a team member, Adam Reck, who is in your shoes to join me today. Adam has 20 years of experience working with middle and high schoolers, including my own as a youth director at a church. He has his own little movie reel that includes 1000s of kids who he has mentored and guided, and he’s had a front row seat to the unfolding of the smartphone revolution and the rise of social media as a power player in our kids lives. So he has some major street cred and we’ve been so lucky to have him be part of our team as one of our lead program facilitator. So if you’ve ever participated in our Screen Sanity program or group study, you would recognize Adam’s face. But part of what we love most about Adam is his transparency in sharing about his own screen time struggles with his own kids and his authentic desire alongside his wife, Alissa, to be intentional about screens with their own four children. So Adam, welcome to the Screen Sanity Podcast, we’re so glad you are here.
[00:04:56] Adam Reck: Hey Krista, it’s great to be here. Um, used to being in front of the camera, now I’m in front of the microphone and still getting all my, my directions in everything from you in the great content that START provides.
[00:05:10] Krista Boan: We all so thankful for your face and for your voice. So I thought maybe for this episode, we could shake things up a bit, Adam, and kind of let you turn the tables on me instead of me being the one kind of directing traffic, I thought maybe I’d let you kind of like ask me anything, would that be okay?
[00:05:31] Adam Reck: Ask you anything?
[00:05:31] Krista Boan: [laughs]
[00:05:31] Adam Reck: That’s a dangerous… [laughs]
[00:05:33] Krista Boan: [laughs] Okay, maybe we limit it to just, uh, smartphone journeys. [laughs]
[00:05:40] Adam Reck: There we go. And, and, yeah, like you said, my kids are a little bit behind your kids and so just like with anything that I’m doing, with START, I’m learning as I’m also participating in it. And I’ve got a lot of questions about how are doing this as we are a couple of years away from that with our own oldest. I mean, you’ve been taking it slow, giving your kid the smartphone, what’s the path that you’ve, that you’ve taken?
[00:06:03] Krista Boan: Yeah, that’s a good question. So when we began our journey, oh I’d say it’s probably four years ago, maybe it was five years ago, but they were not as many options on the market as there are today, which is just wonderful that we have so many more things we can try. So when we first began with our oldest, thinking that she might need or use a phone, we gave her a little cricket phone. Do you remember a Nokia phone from when we were in college and you had to like push the, the number, like, however many times to text? You-
[00:06:38] Adam Reck: Like, yeah, four, four times to… Yeah, ’cause it was all the, the typical phone setup of…
[00:06:45] Krista Boan: Yes, and that worked for us during a season but once she hit kinda middle school, she really wanted to be able to connect with her friends. And of course, we were okay with her connecting with people we knew and trusted but we just didn’t want her to connect with the entire world. [laughs] And at that point, the Gabb phone came out. And so that was three years ago, so she was in sixth grade. And it was the original Gabb, which only allowed her to text. It allowed her to take photos but it didn’t allow her to text photos which we liked because then, you know, she couldn’t get any, like, nakey photos from anybody else. And then, yeah, and then it just had like basic features, like a clock and a calender.
And then, uh, a couple years later, Gabb actually came out with a more advanced version of Gabb, and we actually upgraded to that plan because she after a couple of years of just texting and, and us having a lot of conversations about all the things that could be sent over text with photographs, she was ready to actually have that feature as well. And the Gabb Plus allowed her to add group texting and it also allowed her to send photos. And so she has had that phone for about a year now where she has been practicing those skills.
[00:08:02] Adam Reck: Was it a conscious kind of road path that you were taking of starting out with individual text to then group text? Or was it, was it kind of the technology wasn’t available at first with the Gabb?
[00:08:12] Krista Boan: Yeah. I would say probably a little bit of both. Like, I think Gabb initially met us right where we were at and we were so thankful for that because we have found in our work at START that just any time that you move from a one-to-one text with somebody into more of a group setting that… there is all these different levels of like trying to interpret, and trying to filter, and trying to understand, and give grace and all these things that happen in the group text that don’t happen in just a one-to-one text. So I do recommend that as a path. Start with one-to-one texting and then when your kid’s ready, you can upgrade to group texting and control who they are practicing that new skill with, so…
[00:08:53] Adam Reck: Yeah. We just ordered… I actually got the, the email today, our, our Gabb is coming and we mainly got it ’cause our, our son, he’s starting middle school, he’s doing cross country.
[00:09:05] Krista Boan: Yep.
[00:09:06] Adam Reck: And, and he gets out of practice at different times each day, it’s been hot and so some days I go and he’s waiting for me, other days, he’s like already halfway home.
[00:09:16] Krista Boan: Yeah.
[00:09:16] Adam Reck: And so it’s like we just need a way for him to contact us.
[00:09:20] Krista Boan: Yes, totally. And I just admire that you guys took that extra intentional step to really think through like, what do we need? We need to be able to communicate him while still avoiding that extra exposure to more mature and stuff that maybe he’s not quite ready for. So that’s definitely an extra step that is harder to take ’cause it takes more research and more time to figure out what product is right for your kid but I think you guys will be so relieved.
[00:09:45] Adam Reck: Well, the great thing is we even have doing the research, I just texted you, and you were like, “Yes, that’s the plan.”
[00:09:51] Krista Boan: [laughs] That’s true. That’s true. We are always here at START to give you recommendations for products as well.
[00:09:58] Adam Reck: Yeah. So how did you know that she was ready to cross kind of that rickety bridge, like to graduate from the, from the Gabb.
[00:10:04] Krista Boan: Yeah. Well, in terms of readiness, I think it’s, it’s such a good question and it’s so unique to each family, right? But readiness for us was not like a magical age, you know? It wasn’t like, “Once she hits the age of 14, we’ll know that she’s ready.” It was actually more of a process of just conversation after conversation and then practicing things. So with the Gabb phone, one of the great things was that she got into the habit of, like, plugging in her phone every night down in the kitchen, which is where we keep ours at night.
And so I knew that she had repetition with a lot of those things that really I think are basic in foundational for long term digital health which is like. how can we have habits that all- that allow to support the life that we want to live and, and kind of put that technology in it’s proper place? So she had been practicing that, but kind of like when we talked the Gabb, you know, from the Gabb to the Gabb Plus or the texting to the group texting, if you can kind of visualize stair steps in your head. You know, sometimes, I think in parenting we find that our kids are ready for that next step up but we aren’t ready. [laughs]
[00:11:12] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Yep.
[00:11:13] Krista Boan: And so we found this past summer that she kept bumping her toes. Like, she was ready to be up on that next step and that we were not allowing her to be on that next step. We, we found it out through a pretty, through a pretty hard situation that I probably won’t share. And she’s in high school now, and that’s how a lot of the communication’s happening and there’s this need for her to be more independent and to grow. And so, you know, Adam, at the same time that we’re kind of going through this transition, we’re also going through the transition of her learning to drive. [laughs] So she got her, she got her learners permit last spring and you know, it’s all great. Like, she took the test, she passed it, she got her picture taken, and, you know, we did the whole first few bumpy loops around the cul de sac and then she would say, “Okay, I have to get 50 hours before I can get my restricted, so let’s go out and practice, mom.” And I’m like, “Great. Let’s go down the end of the cul de sac and we’ll come back to the house.”
And, I mean, we did that for a few weeks and finally she was like, “Mom, like, I can’t learn to drive if I’m only going in the cul de sac.” [laughs] And I was like, “Well, yeah. You really can.” Anyway, she’s like, “Mom, we gotta go out on the road.” And I was like, “I just don’t know like that I’m ready.” And so it’s just, you know, you get them out on the road and all of a sudden things get really unpredictable. And I don’t know that I was ready for that with her… with either driving or with giving her a phone. But, you know, you get up to like, you’re like, “Okay, we made it onto this like, kinda major street, we’re doing good, just keep going straight. Like, just stop at the stop sign, don’t turn, just stop.” You know? Like, you’re like, “Don’t do anything to complicate things.” Well, before long, you know, there’s a U-Haul coming at you one direction and a biker in your lane going the other direction and she’s gotta shoot the gap. Okay? And you’re like [inaudible 00:12:55]. Like, you’re like closing your and you’re like just like hoping for the best.
[00:12:59] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:12:59] Krista Boan: Anyway, there’s this whole thing with parenthood, right? That requires that I also have to be ready to let her take risks, and that’s kinda where we were at. That we had built enough muscles that we had had every conversation that we needed to have about pornography, we’d talked about, you know, sexting, we talked about social media, we talked about digital addiction. We’ve had all these conversations and so now, you know, she wouldn’t have been ready a few years ago, but now in high school, she’s ready and so the question was, am I ready?
[00:13:30] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:13:31] Krista Boan: And, you know, some of this requires that I have to kind of carry my own burdens and my own fears and have responsibility for those so that she can spread her wings and grow into the more independent person that I want her to be. And you know, that’s kind of a pattern with parenthood, right?
[00:13:48] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:13:48] Krista Boan: So we’re used to carrying our burdens to protect our kids so that they all stay safe and healthy. So like, you know, if you’re a woman listening, that’s how pregnancy was. Like, we carried our, we carried our babies inside of us, but at that point, they were not exposed to anything, no risk, right? And even then, when they became pre-schoolers, I have this like, this story which is when, um, we were first getting started with START, my youngest was still in pre-school and I needed, uh, something busy during some of those most foundational meetings which would last for hours.
[00:14:22] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:14:23] Krista Boan: And it was so tempting for me to throw an iPad into my purse to keep her busy. [laughs]
[00:14:29] Adam Reck: Yeah.
[00:14:29] Krista Boan: But, I had this like, conscious like, decision I had to make with… like, what can I bring that doesn’t compromise my values that still keeps her busy, and so… Adam, do you guys have Magna Tiles?
[00:14:40] Adam Reck: Oh, yes, yes.
[00:14:41] Krista Boan: [laughs] They’re like the magic. They’re like the… They’re the toy, right? Like, hours and hour and hours. Like-
[00:14:48] Adam Reck: And then, like, the next kid kind of gets to that age and they find them and, and it’s like, oh, yeah, this is the, this is the secret tool.
[00:14:55] Krista Boan: It is. It’s the weapon, isn’t it? And so I would pack up our Magna Tiles into this big bag, we have, like, lots and lots of Magna Tiles and it’s heavy and clunky, right?
[00:15:06] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:15:06] Krista Boan: But I would carry it to these meetings so that she could have a healthy and safe experience while I was getting the stuff done, you know? That’s not to say that… Like, we all gotta do what we gotta do and there are moments where I just handed her an iPad but-
[00:15:19] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:15:20] Krista Boan: … I guess the point is, is that part of our role as parents is to kind of hold those burdens for our kids while allowing them to develop and to grow. But there is a point where you, where you realize that your clock is ticking , you know, she’s in high school, she’s got three more years, and so I’ve gotta be willing to kind of hold those Magna Tiles, like, hold my fears back so that she can experience some pain, she can have some independence, because ultimately, that’s there inoculation, right? That’s their vaccine so that they can learn to cope and deal with a lot of stuff that they experience in the digital world especially while they’re still under your own roof.
And you know, again in sixth grade, we weren’t ready, she was still doing other things, she was developing socially, emotionally and physically. And you know, middle school has enough natural growth opportunities and opportunities to experience discomfort and pain without a phone exacerbating those natural pain points. And I would just say if you’re gonna boil down my whole journey to one recommendation I would give to parents, it’s wait as long as you can. You’re not gonna be able to wait forever, like-
[00:16:26] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:16:26] Krista Boan: … we’re at the point where we can’t wait any longer but the more time they have that time to mature and to just kind of learn other lessons, the, the phones are gonna be there the rest of their lives so give them a Gabb or give them a Pen Wheel or give them a watch, but the longer you wait, I would say that’s one of the things that I think has been the most beneficial four our family. Because, you know, the gift of Gabb was not just that it kept her safe when she wasn’t ready, it was also a gift to me, because it helped me keep breathing when I wasn’t ready. And it gave me enough time. It was like a grace period, right, to like be like, “Okay, she’s got… We… Like the clock is starting to tick here and I, I need to get my head in the game about the season that’s coming, the smartphone season, it’s coming.” And I needed every minute of that season to prepare her for what was next.
I had a conversation just this past week with a mom who her words are just kind of haunting me and it was about waiting and she said, “I thought I had more time. He wasn’t interested in social media and then overnight he was super interested and I… and at that point I didn’t have that, kind of that bridge to prepare him. I didn’t have the runway.” And the whole, I thought I had more time, was haunting to me, ’cause I think that’s how, how we all, how we are all, um, feeling.
[00:17:49] Adam Reck: You know, one of the things I love about START is that it’s not this, like, formulaic, like, one size fits all, you, you gotta do it this way, and at, at these ages, you kind of do these things. And so this is your first, with your other kids, do you think it’ll be… you’ll try to wait to high school? Do you think it’ll, it’ll kind of be more of a, you know, a moving target of depending on their readiness and whatnot?
[00:18:13] Krista Boan: Yeah, that’s a great question. And so I have learned in Parenthood to never say never.
[00:18:19] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:18:19] Krista Boan: And to you know, that we are always changing and growing and learning from our mistakes. And so I would, I would definitely consider a moving target. But it’s certainly something that is… has been a really good experience and is something that we would probably shoot for rather than like, there are things that we’ll do differently and that we’ve already started doing differently with our other kids, but-
[00:18:39] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:18:40] Krista Boan: … in terms of, like, the trajectory of trying to last as long as we can before we give them a phone. And you know, I do think it’s just so dependent on each family situation, right? And in each child. Like, I actually… One of my children, she is so funny, but she is like, it’s my third, and she is like, “I…” She’s like, “Mom, do I have to get a phone in sixth grade? ‘Cause I really don’t want one.” [laughs] And so they each have these di- But I know I have another child who’s gonna be like… in third grade she’s gonna be like, “Why don’t I have my phone now?” [laughs]
[00:19:09] Adam Reck: Yeah.
[00:19:10] Krista Boan: So it’s… it is just such an individual… I think an exhausting journey that we travel, right, with our different children.
[00:19:20] Adam Reck: Yeah.
[00:19:20] Krista Boan: Yeah.
[00:19:21] Adam Reck: Our third right now, he keeps asking, when is it that he gets his own YouTube channel?
[00:19:28] Krista Boan: [laughs] Yeah, you can tell him he can come host Screen Sanity some time.
[00:19:31] Adam Reck: There we go. That’s right. Yeah, so you, so you kn- you knew it was go time, you knew she was ready. What… So what did that look like? Like, did you involve her in the whole process of, of picking up the smartphone and everything?
[00:19:43] Krista Boan: So you know, I mentioned that probably the first step is just having the conversations that needed to be had and so we did go ahead and print out… And START has a smartphone toolkit. There are kind of three components that you can kind of navigate the conversations that you need to have and different ways depending on what fits your family. For us, there’s kind of a fill in the blank worksheet that we went ahead and we went through it just to make sure that we kind of had checked all the boxes and covered everything. You know, we knew what we were going to say when somebody asked us for a nude, you know? We knew what kind of filters were going to be expected, we just kind of got that out of the way.
But then, you know, we’ve been pretty clear with all of our devices with our kids, that those belong to my husband and I and that our kids are just leasing them or renting them. So this was never gonna be a trip to the phone store to hear about which device she wanted. So once I knew that it was go time, the first decision I had to make was actually kind of basic, but it was like, are we gonna do Android or iPhone or Google? And I guess the question on my end was, does it matter if she has the same one as my husband and I? And of course, I asked the person in the store and he said, “You know, oh, it really doesn’t matter.” And maybe, maybe it actually doesn’t for families who don’t intend to stay engaged with their kids phones. But I did go ahead and do some research and I decided that if I wanted to have more control and visibility over her digital life in the next season, it would really simplify things if we were on the same system. It’s like there is going to be enough chaos ahead, like, what can we do to simplify this.
We are an Android family so we just ended up going with an Android phone. But this allowed us to use Family Link to be on the same page. So if we were an Apple family Screen Time has that same kind of feature that helps everybody in the family be on the same page. So you know, that’s one tip that might seem kind of unimportant, but now that I’m on the other side of this whole experience, I’m so grateful that we made that decision, because it has just added a layer of simplicity for me having us to be all on the same system. And I say simple, because I think, um, what happened next might feel a little clunky. [laughs] And if you’re listening, this might not be relevant for you at this exact moment, but you might wanna just doggy ear kind of these thoughts for the day that you are ready to unbox that first smartphone, because I just really wasn’t prepared for how much coffee and wine. [laughs] And just time it would take me to go through the unboxing and the prepping of this device to kind of get it stripped down to a place where I feel comfortable putting this thing into her hands.
And so, yes, she knew the day I went to the store and got the phone, it wasn’t like a big surprise or a big, you know, present or anything. But I also had to ask her to be patient, because I needed her to understand that this was gonna take a few days or maybe even a few weeks before I had it stripped down to the place where I would feel comfortable handing it to her to be as safe for her as possible. And so you know, the hard part with that wasn’t really removing the unnecessary junk and apps that the phone came preloaded with, I actually kind of got a weird sense of satisfaction from just ruthlessly, like, eliminating almost every single preloaded app, which by the way did include Snapchat. It came-
[00:23:12] Adam Reck: Oh, it was preloaded.
[00:23:13] Krista Boan: … preloaded on the phone. I was kind of like, “Wow, okay,” I, I wasn’t really surprised-
[00:23:18] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:23:18] Krista Boan: … but it was there. But so stuff like that made it easy for me to just kind of hunt around on the phone-
[00:23:24] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:23:24] Krista Boan: … and find all the different places, right? Because you can’t just delete the app, right? Then you have to go and figure out where it was installed and delete all of that.
[00:23:31] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Oh, wow.
[00:23:31] Krista Boan: But that was kind of like the easy part.
[00:23:33] Adam Reck: Oh.
[00:23:33] Krista Boan: Like just delete, delete, delete, and uninstall the things that I knew that I didn’t want to worry about. And that’s kind of my decision tree was like, “Do I want to carry this burden? No, out,” like Candy Crush? Gone. I mean, I was ruthless. I know, right? I was just like-
[00:23:49] Adam Reck: Oh, Candy Crush?
[00:23:49] Krista Boan: I know. I know. I, I mean, I did hesitate on that and then I thought, “No, we can always have that later, we can put that back on.”
[00:23:54] Adam Reck: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:23:55] Krista Boan: Um, but then the hard part was then knowing what to add back on. And I’ll, I’ll backup a little bit, because before I even went into the phone store, I knew that I was in danger of the target effect, which is you know, that you can go to target, you’re just gonna grab, you know, a quick laundry detergent, and instead you come out, maybe this isn’t you, Adam, but you come out with a red cart full of beautiful things that you didn’t intend to buy when you went into the store. I mean, they have, like, the secret sauce that, like, catches all of us.
[00:24:25] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:24:25] Krista Boan: And so I knew that that was a risk for me in this situation as well, that we would end up with clutter on our phone that we just didn’t need. And so I actually, before I even went in, I physically wrote down on a piece of paper, almost like a, like a shopping list, right? So here are the apps that we had on her Gabb phone, which we absolutely still need.
[00:24:44] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:24:44] Krista Boan: So it’s a calendar, a music player, photo gallery, a calculator, a clock, but then we allowed ourselves to add to that basic list. So here are the apps that we think she’s ready for next. So I mentioned you know, group me, that was like a big one, that was you know, the next stair case that we needed to step up on to, and also apps like Marco Polo or Team Snap. So we were kind of ready with a game plan and a vision for, you know, what I wanted her home screen to have on it when I put it in her hand. But I think what caught me off guard was that there was this whole another category of apps that I would also need to apply that would require me to learn some new skills.
[00:25:26] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:25:26] Krista Boan: So if we flashback, you know, to those days when I would carry around whose Magna Tiles on my shoulder to give my preschooler her best shot at being healthy and developing appropriately for her age, this is the equivalent of that, and it is those filtering and monitoring apps that you want to put on their device.
[00:25:43] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:25:44] Krista Boan: And it is those filtering and monitoring apps that you want to put on their device and if you’re interested in learning more about what different layers you’re gonna wanna have in place for the time when you bring home a smartphone, I highly encourage you to tune in next week when Chris Makena from [inaudible 00:26:00] is gonna join us and we’re gonna talk all about safety and filtering. And I think of the Magna Tiles because this just felt clunky to me. It felt heavy and disruptive and almost unfair, like I’d rather not. [laughs] Because I kept thinking, “Surely by now, there is some streamline easy system that I can just put on her phone…” you know it’s like a gym membership, right? Like, “Can I just pay for the membership and then the results are delivered to my body without having to work for it?” Like that’s what I wanted.
[00:26:37] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:26:38] Krista Boan: But you can’t actually just download these filtering apps and expect then to provide a blanket of safety around your child, you actually have to put a little work in, and go through kind of a painful process of, you know, choosing what filtering companies you’re gonna use, setting them up on their phone, and on your phone, and then learning how you’re going to use them and getting used to the way that they kind of disrupt your life.
[00:27:05] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:27:06] Krista Boan: And there is this time commitment that you’re kind of signing up for as well, because then you have to actually, like, decide what to do with all of the information that they’re going to send you. It’s a blessing to receive all of these notifications, but it’s also a curse. And again, because it’s a le- a learning curve. And so, you know, I had a friend who just downloaded it with, with, her son who, who she was using it for Snapchat and like the first day she was getting like 400 notifications, right?
[00:27:35] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:27:35] Krista Boan: Because this is how the nature of Snapchat works, that is just so like, viral, but it does get easier the more time that you spend with it. Anyway, in the end, I just felt like I guess a little bit caught off guard hoping that this would be kind of an easy step for me, because I have this gift of all of this tips and tricks up my sleeve and it took me several days. There was a little bit of frustration and anger in me at points throughout that, that I was having to go through this to keep my child safe, and that at the end of it and on the other side, there were still no guarantees. Like, this is hard. This a hard situation that parents are in, so my next move is to head over to congress and to start sharing my story there. [laughs] Like, “This should not be this hard to keep out kids safe.”
[00:28:25] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:28:25] Krista Boan: Yeah.
[00:28:26] Adam Reck: So Krista, what do you do, let’s say I’m a parent listening to this, and I’m like, I don’t wanna take that much time. And the even, even you know, maybe somebody that doesn’t know you and they’re like this is just an overprotective mom that’s way too worried about her kid and it’s really not such a big deal.
[00:28:46] Krista Boan: Yep. That’s a good question. Say more.
[00:28:49] Adam Reck: There’s something… Like, when with me when I’ve worked with students and you know, led smaller groups and especially working with, like, middle school that there is always the, it’s easier to, to loosen up than to tighten up or, or it’s easier to go forward than go backward and so I think-
[00:29:07] Krista Boan: Yeah.
[00:29:07] Adam Reck: I think sometimes it… you know it could be overkill and, and you may need to loosen up but that’s, that’s easier than giving them something already and then having to take it away.
[00:29:17] Krista Boan: Yeah. I’d love that. That gradual release of responsibility, right?
[00:29:21] Adam Reck: Yeah.
[00:29:21] Krista Boan: That’s so good, Adam. Yeah.
[00:29:22] Adam Reck: So in this whole thing, you know, any surprises or take aways that, that you would just kinda give younger parents, parents that are not quite there yet a heads up about.
[00:29:34] Krista Boan: Yeah. And this might again be more personal, for me, but I kind of expected to be transactional, like it was just the next step in what we needed to do to, like, move on in our lives. And maybe for a lot of families, that’s how it is. But what I didn’t really expect or it kinda caught me off guard was that it ended up being a lot more meaningful of an experience than I had anticipated, partly, part of that is because I’ve been so ramped up, right? Like, trudging forwards towards the rickety bridge for, like, so many years. And so, but, it just… It really became, like, a rite of passage almost for her and there was actually, I was kind of caught of guard because there was a little bit of joy in it. [laughs] Even though I shared all the bad things, like, I was able to kind of celebrate that we have made it to this rickety bridge, you are as ready as you’ll ever be and I’m going to like, I’m going to kiss you on the forehead and I’m going to walk with you onto this bridge. This is a new season for you. That you’re gonna learn and grow on this, on this new stair step. You’ve gotta quit stubbing that toe. But at the same time, you know, when you, when you drop your first child off at kindergarten, there’s also, like this grief which is that-
[00:30:43] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:30:43] Krista Boan: … that I was closing a chapter on a past season which was season where our lives were a little bit more simple. I think about that Gabb phone and I think about what a gift it was to have that through those extra years because for me, it was a gift that I didn’t have to worry about the things that I would now need to step in to, to worrying about. Yeah, so, uh, if I’m being honest, as much as we are prepped, it was still a very scary moment for me. And I had to like, kinda pause and just like acknowledge that and just kind of pat myself on the back and be like, “You know what? Take a deep breath. Like, we’re not gonna get this all right. There are gonna be mistakes. This isn’t going to be a quick process.”
And I did make mistakes, the first night, I’m adding all these things back on her phone, you know, and I’m like, “Okay, like we’ve got the GroupMe, we’ve got the Marco Polo, check, check, check. And she’s like, “What about Pinterest, mom?” And I’m like, “Oh, well,” I’m like, “yeah, you’ve already been kind of looking at Pinterest on your school device, sure I will add on Pinterest.” So then she’s like, and it’s late at night, I’m tired, and she’s like, “Well, we have to set up an account.” And I’m like, “Okay, well, let’s go ahead and do th-” Like, that night, I woke up at night, and I thought, “Wait a minute, she’s setting up an account. That means they’re gonna start tracking her data, that means they’re gonna start wanting her attention, that means her hand is gonna start reaching for her phone, because they’re gonna learn about her, they’re going to start feeding her things that make her want more of her phone.” And like it was kind of a spiral for me of I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” Like, that wasn’t actually what I signed up for. And so I had to wake up the next morning, and I had to give myself permission to take Pinterest back. [laughs]
[00:32:18] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:32:19] Krista Boan: And, you know, she came to me and she was like, “Uh, mom, like, did you take Pinterest off my phone?” [laughing] And I was like, “I know, I’m crazy. I totally am crazy.” I was like, “But babe,” I was like, “I just need to breathe.” Like I was like, “It’s not forever. But we need to backup, and we need to talk about if you’re gonna have Pinterest, it is going to start drawing your attention. Like, let’s have a conversation, what should your time limits be? Let’s think through this before I just add it and also like, “Thank you for loving me through this thingee. Like, I know that I’m a crazy lady, I know that this is gonna feel really obstinate compared to, you know, a lot of what your peers are experiencing. And I just appreciate, you know, your grace as we just kind of journey through this together. Thank you for understanding that this is my first time through this and I’m not going to get it right. But I’m with you and I, and I care about you” And then, yeah, being kind to myself, being honest with myself.
[00:33:15] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:33:15] Krista Boan: And then I would just say [laughs] maybe my last tip through it all is just making sure that I have somebody I can call or, you know, maybe it’s your spouse, or grabbing a glass of wine and just debriefing and laughing about it all and crying about it all, I don’t know, just processing this whole transition, I think is huge. And that’s actually a huge desire of ours at START is for you to be able to know that you are not the only parent in the world who is kind of going through these transitions going through these bumps, but that you-
[00:33:47] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:33:47] Krista Boan: … can find each other and, um, and support each other. ‘Cause we are the first generation of parents who are raising kids who would, you know, prefer to text rather than talk, there is no handbook. There are not handrails on the rickety bridge, we are building them together, that we really do need each other. And so a lot of our resources are designed so that you can, you know, grab a cup of coffee with a friend and, and go through these, these changes together. Kind of like what you and I are doing right now. What are you processing as you’re reflecting on screen time, and the changes that your family is going through, Adam?
[00:34:27] Adam Reck: Something I was thinking about our own family and, and, and dealing with devices and screens and everything is… with COVID and, and, and quarantine and everything happening online. Like, it’s been hard to-
[00:34:42] Krista Boan: Yeah.
[00:34:43] Adam Reck: … to kind of go back because of the, the, just the things that got opened up.
[00:34:47] Krista Boan: Yap.
[00:34:47] Adam Reck: You know, we fully went from just an hour of screen time when they were on non-school days and so basically for the weekends and then, and then your quarantining, so-
[00:35:00] Krista Boan: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:35:01] Adam Reck: … you’re online the whole time. And so those rules got really loose.
[00:35:05] Krista Boan: Right.
[00:35:05] Adam Reck: And with [Asher 00:35:08] starting at middle school, he, he, he just had a, a rough two weeks. I mean, he was just really like dread… he would dread everyday waking up and go to school and whatnot. And so one of the things is he just really cherished, like, being home and, and family time. And so when the weekends would come and they would get their devices that they could play on, he said, he is… “I don’t, I don’t want to be on this for this long because it takes away my time to be with you guys and-
[00:35:35] Krista Boan: Mm.
[00:35:36] Adam Reck: … talk as a family. I was like, “Who, what? Where does this come from? That’s awesome.” And so I think in that, in that time of crisis for him, he, he realized, you know, what… It goes back to that values, like what are our values? And so his value was like family time and being together with us as a family intentionally not just on screens. And so it was just a cool… Just reaffirming of that.
[00:36:01] Krista Boan: Right.
[00:36:03] Adam Reck: All right, Krista. So when you’re, when you’re the interviewer, you always kind of end with, uh, this kind of rapid fire questions and since-
[00:36:10] Krista Boan: [laughs]
[00:36:10] Adam Reck: … since I’m… we’ve turned the tables. Right now, I’m-
[00:36:13] Krista Boan: Right.
[00:36:13] Adam Reck: … I’m interviewing you. So this is now your turn to-
[00:36:17] Krista Boan: My goodness. Uh-huh [affirmative]. To give…
[00:36:17] Adam Reck: … give to… answer the rapid fire questions.
[00:36:22] Krista Boan: Okay. Bring it on, Adam.
[00:36:23] Adam Reck: Okay.
[00:36:23] Krista Boan: I’m ready.
[00:36:24] Adam Reck: What, what is, what’s an old school technology that fascinates you?
[00:36:29] Krista Boan: This weekend, we were talking about the Telegram, we’re talking… Well, and actually-
[00:36:32] Adam Reck: Mm.
[00:36:32] Krista Boan: … we were talking about Morse code with our kids.
[00:36:35] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:36:35] Krista Boan: And then we’re actually talking about the Pony Express too, maybe that’s… Okay. See, I’m not good at being on the other end of the table. But, um, [laughing] We’re talking about like, the-
[00:36:44] Adam Reck: So horses fascinate you.
[00:36:45] Krista Boan: Yeah. [laughing] Well, the thing that fascinated me was just the length of time.
[00:36:50] Adam Reck: Adam Reck: Mm.
[00:36:50] Krista Boan: It used to take us, like, so much time to get communication to each other and you sent a note on the Pony Express, right? And like, it didn’t get to somebody until seven days later. And then you had to wait for it to like, come back to you. So there’s like 14 day, like, gap between when you send a message and think of how much life has changed-
[00:37:09] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:37:09] Krista Boan: … in those 14 days, or maybe it hasn’t, because maybe life didn’t change as much. But compare that to now, and you instantly send a message and, and… It’s just… I get curious about what’s been lost in that wait time. And I get curious about how that affects our experience of joy and just contentment with life and, and what we’ve lost in that process of wondering and hoping and, um, being patient with life. And not because we’re good people but because we had to. [laughs]
[00:37:38] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:37:38] Krista Boan: Like we just had to wait. Okay, but I want to flip it back on you. What is-
[00:37:42] Adam Reck: Oh. Uh.
[00:37:42] Krista Boan: … the, what’s the… Yeah, what’s a piece of old school technology that fascinates you?
[00:37:46] Adam Reck: What I miss, um, back when I was a kid is the m- mix tape, you know, the, the cassettes that you would-
[00:37:54] Krista Boan: Yeah.
[00:37:55] Adam Reck: … pop in the boom box and listen to the radio for your favorite song to come on. So then you could press record and play at the same time. And then…
[00:38:03] Krista Boan: Yes.
[00:38:04] Adam Reck: And now that everything is on demand, and you, you know, whate- whate- whatever your music app is, like, you can just find it and play it right away, everything. And, and it’s just not… It’s too easy.
[00:38:16] Krista Boan: It’s too easy and you know, what’s interesting about it, and maybe I’ve shared this on other podcasts, I don’t remember, but is that it’s, it’s made a void in culture of having a common, like, experience.
[00:38:25] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:38:26] Krista Boan: Or like, you know, back when we were kids, everybody knew how to sing Home on the Range, because that was just something that everybody, like, sang.
[00:38:33] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:38:33] Krista Boan: Or maybe that’s not a good example, but maybe Ice Ice Baby is a better example of that.
[00:38:37] Adam Reck: Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
[00:38:38] Krista Boan: Girls Just Want to Have Fun. And so we all collectively as a society, like, kind of knew. Yeah, it was a common narrative within our, within our experience of life. But now, um, everything’s so fragmented. So I miss that too. It’s good.
[00:38:53] Adam Reck: Okay, so fill in the blank. Being apparent in 2021 is…
[00:38:56] Krista Boan: Obviously, for me, it’s overwhelming. It’s just so much information. And like, how do you sort through it all? How about you what, what is being apparent in 2021 for your family?
[00:39:15] Adam Reck: I would say it is adaptive, you know, we were chugging along, back in 2020 and then everything… Or wait, no… Yeah, and then the 2021… Wait.
[00:39:27] Krista Boan: [laughs]
[00:39:27] Adam Reck: I can’t get the years straight.
[00:39:29] Krista Boan: It’s kind of all one year.
[00:39:30] Adam Reck: Yeah.
[00:39:30] Krista Boan: I feel like it should be like one long year.
[00:39:31] Adam Reck: It is, yeah.
[00:39:33] Krista Boan: [laughs]
[00:39:34] Adam Reck: But everything halted and it was sort of like a, a break and a rest and then as things loosened up and everything, you know, you… we kind of got this picture of like, okay, things are gonna go back to normal and there’s just a new normal and just trying to adapt in many different ways. That’s kind of what I feel like we’re doing.
[00:39:53] Krista Boan: Yeah, for sure.
[00:39:54] Adam Reck: Alright, what’s your, what is your favorite app?
[00:39:56] Krista Boan: I like Venmo.
[00:39:58] Adam Reck: Mm?
[00:39:58] Krista Boan: I, I kind of love Venmo. The only thing… Can we talk about Venmo for a second though? why do we need to see everybody else who they’re paying?
[00:40:06] Adam Reck: Oh.
[00:40:06] Krista Boan: I don’t… I’m not quite clear on that. But I love not having to carry cash.
[00:40:12] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:40:14] Krista Boan: And being able to take care of things quickly that need to be taken care of, ’cause otherwise, I am notorious for forgetting to write the check and send the check in. So yeah.
[00:40:22] Adam Reck: Yeah, my wife almost… she almost didn’t sign up for Venmo. Because she was like, I don’t want to tell people what I’m-
[00:40:28] Krista Boan: I know.
[00:40:29] Adam Reck: … paying people for. But you don’t have to say, you know.
[00:40:32] Krista Boan: Yeah.
[00:40:32] Adam Reck: But there is that-
[00:40:33] Krista Boan: And you can private, right?
[00:40:34] Adam Reck: Yeah, yeah. You can make it private. But there is that… For me, it’s like that, well, I feel like I need to contribute to the, to the feed, you know? Yeah, they are like… Which, I don’t know why, I think it’s, it’s a…
[00:40:49] Krista Boan: [laughs] It’s like everybody else is being, like, vulnerable with use so you feel kind of like, I’m fake-
[00:40:55] Adam Reck: Yeah, yeah.
[00:40:55] Krista Boan: … if you’re not gonna, like, tell people what you’re spending your money on. [laughs]
[00:40:58] Adam Reck: Yeah. It’s like, I don’t know if you’re like this, I’m also that way with the, you know… Well, I ain’t sure androids, I don’t know. With Apple, there’s the new… you have to allow the apps to track you. And so I feel this, I don’t know why, I feel like this like-
[00:41:12] Krista Boan: [laughs].
[00:41:12] Adam Reck: … “Well, I probably should let them track me, I just wanna-
[00:41:15] Krista Boan: [laughs]
[00:41:15] Adam Reck: .. I just wanna be a nice guy.” It’s, uh, it’s the peacemaker in me,.
[00:41:17] Krista Boan: You are Enneagram 9. [laughs]
[00:41:20] Adam Reck: Yep, yep.
[00:41:23] Krista Boan: That is so funny. [laughing] What is your favorite app?
[00:41:26] Adam Reck: I would say my, my podcast app. So… that or Audible.
[00:41:31] Krista Boan: Oh, that’s good stuff.
[00:41:32] Adam Reck: Yeah.
[00:41:33] Krista Boan: Yeah. What’s your favorite trick you used? What… Have you found any trick to keep your tech in check? What’s your favorite trick?
[00:41:40] Adam Reck: I, I think, especially for like the games is taking off the notifications of…
[00:41:45] Krista Boan: Yeah.
[00:41:46] Adam Reck: ‘Cause, you know, they, they’ll say, you’ve got… this is ready to do now. And, and so it’s like, I get that notification like, “Oh, well, I need to do this.”
[00:41:56] Krista Boan: Right.
[00:41:57] Adam Reck: And so I re- I realized, like, when I took them off, I could go through, throughout the day, and totally not even thought about it.
[00:42:05] Krista Boan: Right.
[00:42:05] Adam Reck: And then, and then I kind of beat myself up of like, “Oh, I didn’t progress in the game. Like I should have.” Like, “Wait a minute.”
[00:42:11] Krista Boan: Yeah, totally, yeah.
[00:42:12] Adam Reck: What about you? What’s your favorite?
[00:42:14] Krista Boan: Um, I think I would probably say, I haven’t done it as much since we’ve been more shut down but I do like to use my watch to filter notifications.
[00:42:24] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:42:24] Krista Boan: So like, I’ve just kind of got it where it only pings me if it’s like my husband or like the school nurse so that I know my kid is bleeding or throwing up at school.
[00:42:34] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:42:34] Krista Boan: So that helps me put my phone down, I think. Sometimes I, I hold it in my hand all the time, ’cause I don’t wanna… Actually it’s funny, we’re recording, right now my husband’s calling me but, you know, I don’t wanna not be available for the people who I want to be available for-
[00:42:48] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:42:48] Krista Boan: … but sometimes the, the backlash of that is that then I’m available for the people who… or the notifications that aren’t even people who don’t deserve my time and my attention.
[00:42:57] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:42:57] Krista Boan: So it helps to kind of put a barrier in place for that.
[00:43:02] Adam Reck: So the, the internet breaks down for 24 hours. What do, what do you do to unplug?
[00:43:09] Krista Boan: Oh, man, I’d be with people.
[00:43:11] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative]
[00:43:11] Krista Boan: I would probably somehow line up all my favorites [laughs] and either do coffees or go for a swim or go for a walk. That’s what fills me up.
[00:43:24] Adam Reck: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
[00:43:24] Krista Boan: It’s just time with people listening to them and getting filled in on their stories and dreaming with them and connecting and, yeah. How about you if the internet breaks down for 24 hours?
[00:43:34] Adam Reck: I think probably not 24 hours straight but, but board games.
[00:43:39] Krista Boan: Really?
[00:43:39] Adam Reck: Yeah.
[00:43:39] Krista Boan: What’s your favorite board game?
[00:43:42] Adam Reck: I mean, there’s the classic, like, strategic type games and stuff and Set- Settlers Catan. That’s how-
[00:43:50] Krista Boan: Yeah.
[00:43:51] Adam Reck: When I was in my, in my 20s and singles like doing those games just once a week or something. And then when my wife and I got married, having game nights and whatnot.
[00:44:02] Krista Boan: Yeah, that’s so fun. Well, I don’t… Man, thanks so much for hopping on and for being willing to, yeah, step into this conversation with me. I’m really grateful.
[00:44:11] Adam Reck: Oh, yeah. Yeah, this was great. It was fun to kind of hear, hear, your processing and, and everything. And like I said before, this is, this is the future for me. And so, you know, I can just relate to having to, to make sure, like, everything’s protected but also the time and process and the frustration that they actually have.
[00:44:35] Krista Boan: Well, friends, if you are listening along and you can relate to the challenges and frustrations of trying to figure out smartphones for our kids, I just invite you to check out our resources at westartnow.org. We’ve got an awesome downloadable smartphone toolkit that can help you start conversations when you’re ready to cross the rickety bridge into smartphone land. And we also have a wonderful Screen Sanity group study that you can use to find a supportive community, um, in your own community, whether that’s at church, or at work or at, um, school. You can download it on our website or you can find it on Amazon.com. But whether your rickety bridge is far off on the distance or whether you’ve already got your toes crossing over it, we just want you to know that you are not alone. Life is big, and screens are small. So keep looking up.