How parents and preteens can navigate technology together with guest Jessica Speer

About this Episode

Social scientist and author Jessica Speer returns to the Brainy Moms podcast a third time to discuss her book, “The Phone Book: Stay Safe, Be Smart, and Make the World Better with the Powerful Device in Your Hand.” In this illuminating conversation, Jessica shares stories, insights, and tips for parents about how to help support their preteens and young teens as they navigate life online. From persuasive design (which pulls users back into the digital world) and the good that can come from digital life to new acronyms and terminology and ensuring middle schoolers are getting enough sleep when their technology beckons, this episode of the Brainy Moms is chock full of useful advice and real-life stories. Don’t miss this conversation between Dr. Amy, Teri, and Jessica!

About Jessica Speer

Social scientist and author Jessica Speer returns to the Brainy Moms podcast a third time to discuss her book, “The Phone Book: Stay Safe, Be Smart, and Make the World Better with the Powerful Device in Your Hand.” In this illuminating conversation, Jessica shares stories, insights, and tips for parents about how to help support their preteens and young teens as they navigate life online. From persuasive design (which pulls users back into the digital world) and the good that can come from digital life to new acronyms and terminology and ensuring middle schoolers are getting enough sleep when their technology beckons, this episode of the Brainy Moms is chock full of useful advice and real-life stories. Don’t miss this conversation between Dr. Amy, Teri, and Jessica!

Connect with Jessica Speer


Facebook at @JessicaSpeerAuthor

Pinterest at @JessicaSpeerAuthor

LinkedIn at @Jessica-Speer-author

Twitter at @SpeerAuthor

Purchase her book, “The Phone Book; Stay Safe, Be Smart, and Make the World Better with the Powerful Device in Your Hand,” (Aug. 8, 2023) from any of these retailers:

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Read the transcript for this episode:

DR. AMY: Hi, smart moms and dads. We are so happy to have you join us for another episode of Brainy Moms. I am your host, Dr. Amy Moore, here with my co- host, Teri Miller, coming to you today from Colorado Springs, Colorado. And we are super excited to have another conversation with our friend, Jessica Speer, who is joining us from just down the road in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Steamboat, right, Jessica?

JESSICA: Exactly.

DR. AMY: Yes. Steamboat. So let me tell you a little bit about Jessica before we talk to her. So she’s an award winning author of the book “BFF or NRF, Not Really Friends, A Girl’s Guide to Happy Friendships”, and the book, “Middle School, Safety Goggles Advised.” Blending humor, activities, stories, and practical insights, her writing unpacks the tricky stuff that peaks during preteen and teen years. Jessica has a master’s degree in social sciences and a knack for exploring complicated topics in ways that connect with kids. And she is here to talk to us about her latest book, “The Phone Book. Stay Safe, Be Smart, and Make the World Better with the Powerful Device in Your Hand.” Welcome, Jessica.

JESSICA: Thanks so much for having me back, Dr. Amy and Teri. I’m so excited to be back with you.

DR. AMY: Yeah, we are excited to talk to you too. Like when you said, “Hey, I’ve got another book coming out,” I said, “Well, bring it!” Cause we just love, we love your writing style. We love your personality. We just love how you contribute to the world. And so, it’s just always fun to have a conversation with you.

TERI: Yeah. For my middle school daughter, you’re the very first book that we, we interviewed you about that very first book, the not really friends book that was really impactful for my daughter. And it opened up some conversation about some things she had just been crying over. So, good, good, good stuff. Okay, before we dig into it, though, for listeners that did not hear those first two interviews, and if you didn’t, go back and listen to them. But so if you would, Jessica, go ahead and tell our listeners a little bit about your history, what brought you to where you are today with these incredible topics for middle schooler teenage kids.

JESSICA: Sure. Well, my name is Jessica Speer, and at this stage, I’m writing books for a preteen audience, and I’ve got a background in social sciences, and I’m just especially fascinated with this age group, because there’s so much going on. You know, kids are kind of transitioning from being kids, but they’re not quite young adults, and they’re exploring their identities, and there’s a lot going on for them socially. So for me, that really piqued my curiosity in my first book grew out of a friendship program that I ran for girls. My second book, which it really dives into middle school. I spent a lot of time in seventh grade classrooms, really trying to get a good understanding of what is it that makes middle school so tricky. And then this latest book, I actually wrote during the pandemic when we were all getting sucked into our devices. And at that time I had a preteen and early teen, and I realized, “Oh my gosh, I’ve not had the conversations I need to be having with my kids about this.” That is about to change our world.
And, you know, as we’ve seen, you know, digital devices have certainly changed how childhood plays out these days. It’s a really different childhood than our childhood. So, so yeah, that was the inspiration for that book is to really explore that in a way that connects with kids. Because I do like to write directly for kids. I feel like kids are so smart and when we could put, you know, stories and insights in their right in their hands, I feel like they make really great choices You know, we just need to give them the information and the awareness, you know, so they can navigate life at this really interesting age, those pre-teen years.

DR. AMY: Yeah, I love how you um make these solid connections and concrete examples for these kids, because, you know, we know that preteens can’t necessarily think abstractly about their future, right? Like, hey, this is really going to impact you when you go to apply for college, or this will follow you into adulthood, right? And that’s really hard for them to understand without concrete examples. And so I just love how you tell stories and create these examples for kids to kind of attach those concepts to. I’m always so impressed with how you can ground kids in those concrete ways.

JESSICA: Yeah, I love to, as much as I can, use the real stories, you know, that I’m actually seeing and hearing on the ground. So especially in this new book, “The Phone Book,” you know, all those stories are real, you know. And some of them are like, oh my gosh, that is, I’m so sorry for that preteen that that happened to, you know. But it’s important sometimes so we can learn from that experience, you know, younger kids can learn that. Oh, okay. Maybe I should try to remember that things are, you know, aren’t that I want private. I maybe shouldn’t post, you know, online. And you were just, so all those, you know, we learn through stories, you know, so I try to use that, to help kids, you know, make better choices and be more informed.

DR. AMY: Yeah. And, and so speaking of real stories, I love how when you’re doing your research for your books, you are just in the trenches with kids, right? You don’t have big mahogany desk syndrome, right? Where you’re just sitting in your home office pondering what it means to be a preteen without actually talking to preteens, right? And so as you were doing your research for this book, what surprised you the most when you were talking to kids? What was the topic or what you discovered? What was the most surprising?

SANDY: You know, one thing that I think is really interesting is, you know, what happens with kids that are first getting their phones is so different from the insights they have when they’re in their later teen years looking back. And so, for instance, I was, you know, as the school year this year was wrapping up, I was hanging out with some juniors and seniors in their classroom, and we were just chatting about, you know, technology and phones, and they were feeling so nostalgic for the days pre-phone. You know, they were actually so grateful that phones didn’t come into their lives, so they still got to play kick the can, and they still got to play, you know, neighborhood fun games outside, so they were nostalgic and feeling bad for kids today that are getting phones so early that they don’t get to experience that. And, you know, I can find it with my own older teen, you know, the insight she has now about what she was experiencing in those preteen years on her phone is so different. Like she’s so much wiser and self-aware to know when she’s falling into FOMO or she’s, you know, she’s, but you know, we’re still in that point where kids are getting phones earlier and earlier, you know, so, you know, they don’t quite have that self-awareness yet. Um, yeah, so that’s, again, another reason I wanted to write this book is to help that along, but, you know, I guess what was inspiring to me is to see, as kids get older, they definitely get more, you know, self-aware and formed as they go. So I know some people are so worried, “Oh, my gosh, this is going to ruin kids today.” You know, it’s certainly not the best environment right now with technology and the safeguards on kids. But what I’ve seen is, you know, a few years down the road, they are so much wiser and they’re going to be great leaders and teachers moving forward. You know, I’m so interested to see how this generation of teens will raise their kids when it comes to technology, because they got to experience firsthand what it’s like to actually have a lot of technology at your fingertips and not a lot of guardrails in place.

TERI: Yeah, it’s going to be such a different world. I mean, when our kids are raising their kids. I mean, I know technology changes so fast, the world is changing all the time and yet that’s going to be just a really, really huge difference that. You know, when we were kids, it was worrying about what we’re doing in the neighborhood and who we’re going to ride bikes with and, you know, stay safe and close enough and check in and things like that. And now it’s. Oh, my goodness. Who are you riding bikes with, so to speak, online? What are you doing online? It’s just such a different perspective. It’s wow.

JESSICA: There’s so little downtime too. You know, so that’s one thing I definitely heard is there is digital stress, you know, cause they are expected to kind of respond fairly quickly to text and, you know, somehow navigate these really complex group chats. And so, you know, we didn’t have that, you know, when we were away from our friends, we were away from our friends and got that downtime and time to regenerate. And that’s not really a thing anymore. So yeah, that’s, that’s really fascinating. And, and it does add a little layer of social stress to kids these days.

TERI: Yeah. I think significantly, I mean, looking at my kids, I feel like more than a little layer.

JESSICA: Yeah, you’re right.

TERI: Because I got my oldest is just about to turn what she just turned 29. What did I say? Just about. The 16th was her birthday! She just turned 29 and my youngest is 11. And so there’s this huge range of experiences and the difference in their perspectives when they were in these middle school and high school years. It’s just huge. Then the stress that you’re talking about, I think it’s really big on preteens, middle schoolers right now. And I think so much of it is what you just said. They cannot get away from it.

JESSICA: Yeah, you’re right. I shouldn’t understate that. I think it is a big thing. And a lot of added pressure on them And complicated. You know, group chats. When you’re in sixth grade, that is a complicated place to navigate a group chat as a young person. That is very complicated. And, you know, a lot of the drama plays out online in, within these chats and DMs and, you know, people getting kicked out of groups. And so I don’t want to put a lot of fear out there, but it is complex. It is, it’s more complex than navigating these things in person, I would say.

TERI: Right.

DR. AMY: Well, and there’s a permanency to that too, right, that you talk about in your book. That it isn’t, you know, the playground or lunch table conversation that is done and over at the end of playtime or lunchtime, right? Like there’s permanent evidence of online conversations or sharing of photos or, you know, saying things and liking things that follows you. Talk a little bit about that.

JESSICA: Yeah. And so that is a chapter in the book about digital footprints. And so this is, you know, for younger brains, this is a harder concept to grasp onto. That, you know, kind of what you’re putting out there now actually might affect you in college. And it does. It is a common thing for, you know, college admissions now to search, you know, students. And for the most part, it actually, it’s really positive. They can find some really cool things that, you know, prospective students are doing online. But there have been situations where, you know, applications have been revoked. Acceptance has been revoked because of things they found online. So those conversations need to start early and often with kids and, and even beyond college or future employment. Cause you know, 12-year-olds might not even want to think about that yet, but just thinking about what do you want out there? You know, our, what we put out there in the world is kind of our, you know, and like it or not, people judge us. There’s an activity in the book. People judge us for that. It’s called “You Be the Judge.” And there’s, you know, screenshots of, you know, person A and, you know, some, you know, some positive things. And then there’s some screenshots of person B where there’s some, you know, questionable things. And, you know, the readers ask, you be the judge. Which one of these would you hire to work in your ice cream shop? So just, of those examples about, you know, we’d like to say we’re not judging a book by its cover, but we’re actually doing that all the time. You know, as human beings, that’s our brains just do that. So just helping kids be aware that they have a lot of power to shape their digital reputation. Luckily, you know, they just have to think about, you know, how do I want them? How do I want to present myself online? Which is not that different than when we are, you know, entering a room and meeting a bunch of people for the first time. We think about, how do I want to present myself? You know, except it is much more permanent, you know, once we come to the digital world. So that’s a conversation that needs to happen quite often, you know, and things can be deleted, but as kids know, it’s so easy to screenshot and then that file is no longer on, you know, your phone anymore. It’s actually on somebody else’s phone. That’s maybe then saved into the cloud and maybe shared, you know, via tech. So just being acutely aware of that. Yeah, so that’s, that’s a tough one for young brains though, but it’s, it’s important for us as the caregivers in our lives just to keep talking about the importance of that. DR. AMY: Yeah. Oh, go ahead, Teri.

TERI: Oh, I was just going to jump to a different topic that I’m curious about. So if you’re still sticking with that …

DR. AMY: I want to stay here for just a minute. So I love how you were bold enough to have a conversation about sharing nude photos with this age group, right? Because those seem like taboo topics, especially for middle schoolers, but I think. Well, talk to me about your thought process there. Your thought process. What made you want to devote real estate in your book to that?

JESSICA: Well, I can’t tell you how many middle schools are dealing with this right now. So I thought I can’t not talk about this because I haven’t come across a middle school yet that hasn’t had an issue with nudes, you know. And so, I know for later teens and young adults this is possibly becoming part of their culture. But when we’re talking now, preteens, you know. There is no way that that preteen girl wanted that photo shared. And she probably shared it without really thinking that through, but this it’s happens in middle school. So my thought on that is, you know, as soon as, as soon as we’re giving our young one, a connected device, you know, where they’re able to connect to others via text, or we need to have that conversation really honestly about that. And so yeah, the story is a true story in the book about, you know, you know, a boy and girl that start, you know, in quotes, dating, middle school dating is, you know, not high school dating. It’s still like our middle school dating. But, you know, was asked to share a private photo of herself and she did. And then the next thing you know, it’s shared. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. So this is something that middle school, middle school counselors are dealing with. So yeah. So to answer your question, I felt like I can’t not talk about this because as soon as we are giving kids a phone that has the ability to, you know, share texts with their friends, that’s a possibility. And it’s important for them to know what to do with that. It’s really important, you know, to not save those things on your phone. There’s still many states with laws where that is illegal. So just knowing that, knowing that nuance, that this, this is definitely not something that we want to, you know, allow them to do. Let’s help them be fully informed. You know, once they’re older young adults, that’s out of our control. But when they’re really young, let’s empower them with much information as they can so they don’t end up in that situation. Because what I’ve seen for girls is that’s hard to recover from socially, especially in middle school. When that happens in the middle school years, it is it’s a tough one for those girls to navigate.

TERI: So I want to shift and it’s it really is just a slight shift to the perspective of parental control.
And so of screens of phones of what’s happening there. And so you’re in the trenches and I know there are perspectives—I hear it from my kids, I hear it from other parents—that vary from the, the hover helicopter parent perspective, that’s like, you know, you get this limited phone. It, you have a limited use of screens. I don’t, there’s all kinds of things, you know, parameters. Internet goes off at a certain time, you dock at a certain time, you know, really strict parameters to the other perspective, which is, “Hey, you figure it out. You’re going to experience it. You’re going to learn from staying up till four o’clock in the morning and being exhausted so many days in a row, you’re going to learn. You have to actually go to sleep at night and put your phone away.” So wide range, tell us about what you’re learning as you’re in the trenches from kids.

JESSICA: I’m so glad you asked this ’cause I do feel like this is a tough one for parents. Because as of the state of the world right now is that this is all falling on the parents. I wish that there were more safeguards and supports in place so that this all didn’t have to fall on the parent’s shoulders because that is really hard. But what I’m hearing from students is they’re not getting a lot of sleep. You know, they, you know, and it makes sense. You know, they’re 11 and 12. They don’t have the self-control. If their phone is buzzing like crazy, which most of them are, you know, what I did learn is most of them have access to their phones all night long. So that phone is buzzing, buzzing. And so, so kids are not getting a lot of sleep. And I am such an advocate for sleep. I feel like that is so foundational to their mental health that, for me, this is where we do as parents need to step in and help them because the phones are designed to keep us on them. That is, that’s, it’s called “persuasive design.” That’s how they are made. And they’re, and I talk about this in the book, some of these tricks, you know, such as, Snapchat streaks, or, you know, having to earn tokens to get to the next level, or having to even check in on these young games for young kids. We have to check in and feed your pets or they die. And that’s actually a thing. So there’s all these tricks that keep us drawn back. And, you know, so kids don’t have the, you know, the self-control in their prefrontal cortex yet to manage that. So for me, where that becomes really clear is if this is really hurting their sleep, we’re not in a situation where we can even help them, you know. So then, then everything in life starts falling apart, you know, their, their relationships, their academics. You know, so once we’re not sleeping, nearly enough, you know, things start to crumble and we could see that. You know, mental health of youth right now is not great. And I wonder how much of that is sleep deprivation. So yeah, so I would say that’s where we need to come in and yeah and help put some decent sleep patterns in place. Because I don’t think young brains are quite equipped to, you know, their social world is everything so I can see where this is really hard. This phone is buzzing all night long and the party’s on, you know, game on. People are chatting, people are conversing. But we, it’s our responsibility as adults to help them, that teach them the importance of this self-care and how important that is for them. And using some examples, there’s some, you know, we can, you know, find some stories of some professional athletes that will profess how important and sacred sleep is to them. So yeah, this is, this is an ongoing discussion at my house too, you know, with two teens. But my kids, they have such clarity on, you know, how much value our family places on rest. There’s no doubt in their mind. And so, you know, I think having—sometimes we need to get to the point where the internet shuts off at a certain hour and we can control that. And it just, it’s off. It’s off. And you have to rest.

DR. AMY: So I like that approach because I, so I’m a parent who did not put limits on my children’s access to their phones. So now my kids are 18 and above now, but I was not a helicopter parent. I did not put the app that tracked them or anything like that. I was kind of, “Hey, you do you.” Is that necessarily the right choice? I don’t know, but that’s how I parented when my kids, you know, had their phones as young teens and teens. But I love that for those parents like me, who don’t feel the need to put tracking devices or monitoring devices, but care about their children’s functioning during the day and that sleep deprivation obviously impacts functioning.
I love that I could have taken that approach, right? I could have said, “Hey, we need to talk about the importance of sleep” because I preach about that all the time now. Like, I understand from, you know, a brain perspective, what sleep does. And in fact, I had a conversation with my oldest son yesterday. I interrupted him while he was sleeping yesterday morning. I needed to get into his room for something. And he said, I’m asleep. You cannot come in right now while I’m sleeping.” And I was arguing with him through the door. And so he came—I finally gave up because he kept saying, “No, I’m sleeping.” He came up yesterday evening and said, “Hey, I need to talk to you. I need to remind you how important my sleep is to me. I have ADHD, I have Tourette’s. It’s important for my attention span. It’s important for me to be able to control my tics. When you interrupt my sleep, then I can’t function.” And it was this “Aha!” moment. This is an adult child, right? Who lives in my basement. But this “Aha!” moment for me that I messed that up, right? I messed that up. I mean, I fell on my sword. I offered these apologies. And so. for them to have the self-awareness, for us to teach them that self-awareness of how important sleep is, I just like that we could use that perspective, right? So it doesn’t feel like we’re controlling them. It’s like, “Hey, we want to maximize your chances for success during the day.”

JESSICA: I do feel like kids can work around our control. So I don’t do that either. So I know kids can work around any sort of control I’m going to try to place on that. So I’m more in the conversations, let’s have conversations about what you’re going to see online. And let’s protect your sleep. But, you know, to your point, Dr. Amy, I also like, I’m sure I’ve so messed up in so many ways. So this is what I get back to. There’s so much on our shoulders. Like we’re, we don’t have a ton of guidance here. We are just trying to wing this as parents. But the cool thing is, is look, your son has got this now as a young adult, he’s like, “I got this.” And that’s kind of back to our earlier conversations. I feel like there’s this messy middle, but they’re coming out and they’re like, they’re knowing now how to practice self-care in this, you know, tech-obsessed world. And many of them, not all of them, but, you know, so they’re getting it. So don’t beat yourself up. And we all, as parents can, cause we’re just trying to figure this out. This has all been like thrown at us. We’re doing the best we can now with all this information. But that is one that I feel like, that’s a pretty clear argument. Sleep. You know, and once they get it, once they get the importance of this, you know, if they have, if they’re all academically inclined or they’re sports inclined, we got to find out what it is that their passionate about, and then we can figure out why sleep is important for that. And guaranteed there is a direct connection to what they’re passionate about and how sleep is important to that. And we just got to keep making that connection for them.

DR. AMY: Absolutely. And I know Teri’s going to jump in here in a second, cause she does parent a little differently than I did. But I want to just point out something from your book. You have this weird fact. I love how you just throw weird facts in all the time. In Taiwan, parents can be fined $1,600 if their kids spend too much time on screens. $1,600! So they’ve made it easy for Taiwanese parents, right? Like, oh my gosh, I’m going to have to pay $1,600 if I don’t shut you off at 8 p.m. TERI: It’s like speeding tickets. Or not wearing seatbelts. Like we can tell our children, “Put your seatbelt on” because if an officer comes by and does not see that strap across you, we’re getting a huge ticket. And I’m not letting that happen. And that it we’re protecting them. We’re caring for them. We’re doing what feels secure and safe, but there’s someone else that’s kind of the …

DR. AMY: You can blame it on the Taiwanese government or the police officer.

TERI: Exactly!

DR. AMY: Like, “Well, if you don’t do this, here’s the consequence.” Whereas we don’t have that, right? Like, so we have to find these other ways to help motivate them to hear what we’re saying, right?

TERI: So I’m gonna, that’s what I’m gonna jump to. I want our listeners—I want me to hear some practical advice. So I was much more, um, controlling hover parent for my older kids. I mean, I came about it very naturally because my firstborn had major medical problems and I had to watch over him all the time, hydrocephalus and epilepsy. And so that created a very hover-parenting perspective for me because I worried night and day. And so I was more controlling than with his sisters that were just younger than him as well and that damaged the relationship. And it’s okay, but it’s hard. I hurt my relationship with them and there is a bit of a wall between us and they aren’t, they don’t feel super connected to me. They feel that Mommy was controlling and Daddy was fun. And so they’re kind of like, they have a hand up to me a little bit. And I regret that. And that has broken my heart. And so then with my other kids, I have nine altogether. Listeners, I know I’m completely crazy. So with some of the younger ones, I’ve gradually drifted away from that. Obviously, my older son is great. He’s doing fine. He has succeeded. I don’t have to watch over him anymore. He’s 28. But then my son that’s 18, a little less controlling, but had some of that. And what he says now is, “It didn’t matter. When Daddy would turn off the Internet. We would just turn it back on later. We would stay up anyway.”
So you just said it, Jessica. Kids are going to get around parental controls. And he says, now, as he sees me still trying to, now with his younger siblings, to step in and try somehow to help them get sleep, understand this isn’t working. You know, my 14-year-old daughter, she’s up super late at night, like watching a show or I don’t know, social media. I’m not sure what all. She’ll say she’s put it away and it’s done. And then three o’clock in the morning, she’s watching something and then she’s super emotional the next day. And then she’s angry if I say, ”You’re overtired.” And then my 13-year-old-son, “Well, Ian said this.” You know what I mean? There’s all this, there’s this fight. There’s this, I don’t know how to help them. What do I do? Jessica, help.

JESSICA: Oh my God. And this is, this is the, this is so true for everybody. So I’m so glad you said that. Cause we’re all, and all our kids are different too. Right? So they’re all are navigating this in their own unique way too. So, yeah, that’s a tough one. And, oh, let me see what would be helpful. I feel like, you know, summer might be the time to allow more, you know, allow more. But as we get closer, we already start having these conversations, you know, getting back to my sleep thing. Like, you know, “I want you to feel like you are able to be a teen and stay up late.” Because teens are going to want to stay up late. That’s just their body clock. Right? “But as we get back to school and you have to be up at 6:30 or 7 o’clock, let’s start to think this through. You know, what would help you get back to a schedule? You know, once we hit school time and we’re getting, you know, we know that you just need to function well, you know, I know schools important to you and I know you have aspirations of going to college. So what would be helpful to you to transition to this awesome freedom of summer to getting back to, you know, you, where you really are taking care of your health and getting a good night’s sleep through summer?” And you know, so I would start there. But I guess what’s so challenging is this. That’s not happening in a lot of homes, you know, and so, so just knowing that. So she’s, she’s fully aware that what’s happening in your home is not happening in your friend’s home. They just, you know, right. Yeah. So I see this all the time with my kids and they know that. And I feel like that’s okay. They can know that what’s happening in our house is different. But in our house, we feel like this is so important again. I’ve tied it back to things they want to do, you know, and so, you know, they want, you know, she wants to go to school here and, you know, she wants, you know, so I’m just trying to make her realize how important her functioning well is to all of these goals that she has. So I would, I would maybe try that. But again, who knows? You know, everybody’s every kid is different. So I think it’s also important for us to understand the vulnerabilities of our specific kids. Okay. You know, and maybe we just really hone in on that. So, so for some kids, especially girls, you know, maybe if they don’t have a lot of, they don’t have a positive body image, you know, we might have a lot more conversations about what they’re seeing online. And, you know, what, you know, just inappropriate, unrealistic, you know, body standards for women and girls online, you know. So we so knowing our own kids vulnerabilities and where they might really struggle, we can actually just focus there to if that’s, you know, that might be enough too. Like, where are they most likely to really get into a dark place and we just kind of talk about that. So yeah, that’s a tough one. I wish I had like the, these perfect solutions, but this is not easy stuff. No, it’s no wonder that we’re all trying to, trying to figure this out because there’s no easy answer here. And, you know, just go back to what Dr. Amy said, you know, what they’re doing in Asian countries, you know, it’s just like, “Boom, here. This is the rule.” But in this country, you know, that’s just not how we go about things. But I have to say that I sat in for part of the research of this book, I sat in on some Senate hearings for how to protect kids safety online, and there’s a lot of stuff in motion and we could already see individual states. You know, one’s banning. One is requiring, you know, parental permissions. You know, so there’s a lot of things bubbling up right now at the federal level there’s not consensus as to what is the answer on the path forward, but there is definitely consensus that we need more guardrails in place to protect kids privacy, to protect them from seeing, you know, really explicit and violent things online that they shouldn’t be seeing, you know, to actually even think about designing these apps in ways that are meant for kids. Because a lot of them actually were designed for adults and now they’re being used by kids.
So these conversations are happening, but, you know, in this country, it’s going to take us a while to get to some solutions. Now, just an example of like when cars were invented in the late 1800s, it took until the ‘80s before, you know, seatbelts were required in one state. And we had to start with kids because everyone was like, “No, you can’t make me put on my seatbelt.” But, you know, New York State in, I think it was the ‘80s, was the first one that to protect kids allowed seatbelts. And then it kind of flowed from there. And now, you know, seatbelts are, of course, we have seatbelts in cars, you know, we have safety sensors and backup cameras. Of course we do. But it took us a long time to get there. I’m hoping for tech, it’s not that long. I’m hoping that we can maybe get there a little faster because I do think we have there—there’s things that can be done. We could, right now, put some meaningful age verification on a lot of these sites, you know, instead of what’s now, which is not at all effective or meaningful. So there’s things we can do right now. We just need kind of some regulations at the top to get there.

TERI: So that’s encouraging. That’s just everything you said. DR. AMY: Like you hate the idea of big brother telling you how to parent, but at the same time, parents want a little bit of help in this area, right? Because it is so wild, wild West at the moment.

JESSICA: And every industry in this country is regulated right now, except really tech. Okay. So, so that just kind of explains why, you know, why it is the wild, wild West right now. Because we, to not stifle innovation, you know, we did not put any restrictions on tech. So tech companies are not at all liable for any content put on their platforms. And that has certainly not been great for kids, you know, so, so kids are seeing TikTok challenges that are actually really harmful and kids have died doing TikTok. So because there’s no regulations or liability yet for tech companies … but it’s coming. I mean, every other industry is regulated in this country, so it’s coming. We’re just trying to figure out how to do that to best protect kids, which is hard because so much content. I mean, the volume of content being thrown online is so incredible. And so it is really hard to try to manage that too, but I know it’s possible. I know we can do so much better when it comes to kids. I know we can, and I’m hopeful we’re going to get there.

DR. AMY: So I want to, speaking of harmful, you talk about this YouTube influencer, who kind of performed this experiment. And so I want you to talk about that in just a second. We, have interviewed a trauma therapist, Clint Davis, a couple of times and his, he talks a lot about having to protect our kids from online predators. He quotes a statistic that something like 80% of kids are propositioned online by an adult and 50% of them respond. And so statistics like that are terrifying as parents, but you spend an entire chapter talking about these potential dangers.
Tell us about this YouTube influencer and what he did and what he found.

JESSICA: Yeah. Okay. So I’m trying to figure out, okay, what’s an age appropriate way to talk to kids about stranger danger, because I still remember from being a kid that I was terrified every time I saw a white van, you know, for my whole childhood, because I remember those stories were so scary. So I’m like, okay, how can I, this is important to talk about. How can I talk about this in a way that’s slightly less scary? So I came across this story of this influencer who’s, you know, in his thirties and he got attuned with how to, you know, that this is a problem for kids. So he had some family friends and he said, “I bet you if I pose as a 15-year-old on social media, I can get your daughters to, you know, to connect with me online and to meet me.” And so we had the parental permission and the parents like, “No way. No way. You can’t do this.” So he does it. He puts up his 15-year-old profile and he’s like, you know, starts your direct messaging because they all had open social media accounts. So any other public accounts, not private accounts. So he could say, “Hey, you know, I’m so and so, you know, you look, you’re so beautiful, you know, I’d really like to get to know you.” So all those questions that, you know, we want to talk to our kids about some of these, these probing questions. Did your parents check your account? You know? So, so yeah. So starts this conversation, sure enough. You know, in a very short period of time, he convinces all three to meet with him, you know, and so the parents are just blown away. And so this gets back to the vulnerability, especially I feel like I know it’s, it’s all genders, but I feel like, especially for young girls who are in that place where, you know, those compliments, they go a long way, you know. And they are trying to connect and, you know, and they want to feel beautiful. And so, just being aware of that, um, so that, that story’s in the book. And I thought by doing this as an adult who’s pretending it’s, it’s a little less scary than, you know, the white van story that I heard that was so scary. But I feel like it is important. Again, if they have a connected device, to talk about this. Because even me as a middle-aged woman, I am amazed how many people send me—I have public accounts on social media. I’m blown away with how many people, you know, send me stuff or, you know, just, I’m like, “Really?” Yeah, I’m a middle-aged woman. So it happens. I see it happen to me. And so and I know it happens to my daughters, too. They get approached. So that’s another conversation that we just have to have. And the younger the kids are, you know, in that book, and there’s—it’s toxic. Very clearly about making sure your social accounts are private. You know that that right there is going to keep, you know, people from they can’t even see what you’re posting online if your accounts are private. And they’re under a name that is not your name, they’re under more of a nickname and you’re you never share with anybody in a direct message you know your address or you know where you go to school or you just, you know. Just teaching the basics of staying safe and keeping your information private online. So yeah, I wish I wish I didn’t have to talk about this, but I feel like with now this connectivity, it’s more important than ever.

TERI: That’s such good advice. I’m like, okay, I need to just… I’m thinking I could do this on like a road trip or a drive because the thought of sitting down, and right now I’m thinking about my 14-year-old daughter, my 13-year-old son, my 11-year-old daughter, the thought of sitting them down and saying, “We’re going to talk about this,” already, Boom! Their brains are shut. They are out. They are like, “I’m done with you. I don’t want to hear that”. And we’re like, we’re close. You know, we’re connected. I love them. They don’t need me, you know. But nevertheless, if I tried to do that about media, when I start talking about media screens, phones, they start shutting me out. Now, my 13-year-old son and my 11-year-old daughter, they don’t have phones. But my 14-year-old does because she was always at the dance studio. She doesn’t even have cell service. It’s only through internet, but she still has a phone. We needed it to be able to connect with her. Cause we can, iMessage her for pickups and things like that. I could do it on a drive. I can have them read the chapter aloud on a drive. We’re facing forward. We don’t have to look at each other.


TERI: Any other ideas like that? I want our listeners to have practical ideas. To really know how to speak to our preteens and our young teens about these issues. Other ideas?

JESSICA: And I think real stories are helpful. So if you have seen this on, you know, you have actually gotten some messages online, you know, so, or you’re aware of it. You know, I think I think stories are really powerful. You know, true stories of things that have happened to other people. But I think, as much as I hate to say this, I think it’s really important for kids to know that there are people with really bad intent out there that, you know, that do grooming-like activities to connect with them. And so you talk about the questions they might ask them or what they might say to them. And, you know, and just, yeah, so I think doing it, like you said, on a drive. Or short walk so they know that, you know, maybe towards the end of the drive, as you’re pulling into your neighborhood, you know, you bring it up or, you know, just so they say, “This is going to be uncomfortable, but we’re almost home.” But it’s I think it’s so, so important, you know, and you can even tell them what to look for. And so here’s what here’s one thing I’ve noticed that for me, as this middle-aged woman that gets these really odd requests, there tends to be patterns. So what’s hard, what’s hard to pick up is the person who is 15 and is, you know, it’s a fake photo and a fake name and a fake account. So that, so talk about that. But there’s also, you know, young men, mostly men. I hate to stereotype, but it’s mostly men. And there’s often a consistency with what they’re sharing online. They tend to have a photo of them in a position of trust. They’re a doctor, or, you know, they might have a military uniform on. Or, you know, some position of trust. And then it’s them with the puppy. And then it’s them in a sports car. And, you know, so I actually should save all these. I’m like, “Wow, look at all these consistent profiles” that I, you know, over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten 25 of these of not the same person. All different people, but, you know, trying to show that, “Hey, I’m successful. I’m trustworthy. I have a puppy,” you know, so just helping them know that this is a thing, you know? And so if you ever come across something like that, you can share that with them as well. And never fun conversations. But really, really important conversations to have with our kids, especially again, when they’re, when they are fully connected, you know, when they are, they have connection with the outside world, either through social media, especially through social media, if they have a, if they have a public account and texting.

DR. AMY: So we need to take a break, let Terry read a word from our sponsor. And when we come back, I want to shift and talk a little bit about cyber bullying and digital drama and kind of the difference there that you talk about in your book when we come back.

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DR. AMY: Thank you, Teri. And we’re back talking to Jessica Speer about her new book, “The Phone Book.” I just want to clarify two things before we keep talking. Hey, I was telling a story earlier about needing to get into my adult son’s room while he was sleeping yesterday. He did not do anything wrong that I needed to get in there. We were changing the alarm sensors on all the windows in the house. And so I just needed to get in there to change out those sensors anyway.
And like, if someone was like, “Why did you need to get into your adult child’s room?” But anyway, that’s why. And then second of all, as you all know, I’m always drinking coffee. Cause I do have a coffee love. I, today I’m drinking out of this cup that I stole from my son, Evan, and it says, can y’all see it? It says, “Depresso. That feeling when you’re about to run out of coffee. Depresso.”

TERI: Well, let’s—so are you going to use the word nomophobia?

DR. AMY: Right? I love that. Yes, so before we talk about cyberbullying, Jessica, talk about nomophobia real quick because we love that.

JESSICA: So nomophobia is this new anxiety, it comes up the fear of not having our phone or the fear of not being connected. And, you know, I think we’ve all felt that, like the little panic, “Oh, where’s my phone?” You know, and so teens and preteens really experienced this, you know, not having that connected device. You can really bring up this nomophobia. So yeah, so that that term is new and it’s in the book, you know, just for fun. So kids know this is a thing and they will, they will clearly relate to that feeling of panic or anxiety when they don’t have their phone.

DR. AMY: Yeah.

TERI: And there’s so many other terms. FOMO and cyber bullying and talk about those.

JESSICA: Yeah. And so I wanted to just, again, this is just, I know we’ve been talking about the really hard topics, but, trust me, it’s not all, you know, Debbie Downer book. I wanted to, there’s a lot of really positive stories about what kids are doing a lot online too. So, you know, the whole premise is, you know, we can use our phone as a force for good, you know, but there’s a lot of information so that our kids are much more informed consumers so they can make these choices. But yeah, full of fun facts, which are, which are new, like this new term called fubbing, which is, you know, instead of paying attention to the people you’re with, you’re looking at your phone. So, you know, we can all, you know, acknowledge being fubbed to, you know, when the person we’re with is actually staring down at their phone. So, you know, all these fun terms, which goes to show how these devices have just changed our world so much and our interactions with each other.

DR. AMY: Yeah. Um, yeah, there’s sad, sad something. What is that term?

JESSICA: Oh, sad fishing. Okay. So “sad fishing.” And this is, this is pretty common. So, you know, one, one way the kids get support if they’re feeling really down as they will go and share this on social media, like share their struggles very publicly, you know, which in some cases works out really well, they will get the support that they’re hoping to get. But you know, sometimes it doesn’t it backfires, you know, so they really share, they’re putting themselves out in a vulnerable way publicly, and then, you know, they get hit with some really mean, you know, maybe bullying comments, or they don’t get the support they need. So yeah, through sharing that phenomena, I want, you know, I wanted kids to know that, you know, if you really, really need support, you know, try to go to someone who can give you that support. You know, by throwing it out there into your online world, you just never know what you’re going to get back. And it might not be exactly what you need to get you through this tough period.

TERI: Yeah. So fubbing, we got that one, what that one means. So we can, we can speak the right lingo. And then streaks, you talked a little bit about streaks. That’s like on Snapchat.

JESSICA: Mm hmm. So yeah. So on Snapchat is a big one for, you know, kids to communicate and they often have their location on so they can see pretty much where everybody in their grade is, which was interesting. One of my daughters is on that and on, on spring break, you know, she pulled it up and we could see where everybody is like, this is so weird. I mean, it’s just, it’s how they’re living these days, you know. So I don’t advise having your, your location on but you know when they get to a certain age, they’re an older teen, they might choose to have their location on if you as parents allow that. But back to streaks. Okay, so Snapchat is a main communication channel for teens and one of the ways that Snapchat keeps users so involved is these things called streaks. So, so you and your friend, you know, might start a streak and that’s day one and you have to send each other, you know, a picture of yourself. And often these days, kids will just take a random picture of a wall, which is really interesting. It’s kind of a little bit of a snuff too depending. But they’ll take, your day there is a picture exchange with whoever you’re in the streak with and it just adds up. So it could get to like day 60 and now you guys are going on a camping trip and your teen might be so nervous because they’re not going to have service and they’re going to break the streak. So this is a tough one because it becomes, it becomes really meaningful and they don’t want to be the one who is breaking the streak. But, you know, this is where I talk a lot about persuasive design. So this is a brilliant strategy, you know, to keep kids online. You know, so they, the strategy is if they, they have to check this and take a picture and share it every day, you know, so we are therefore increasing their use of this particular platform. So then knowing that, however, it doesn’t make it any easier. You know, so, so sometimes it will take, you know, I’ve seen this happen a lot too. So one kid will lose their phone and all that is broken. So all the streaks are broken, you know, text groups are lost and they actually feel, after they get over their nomophobia, they then feel still this whole sense of relief. They’re like, “Whew, hey, I don’t have to worry about maintaining these anymore” because it does get back to that social stress, that digital stress. It’s a lot to maintain that. You know, think about that, trying to do it every day. Now, Snapchat is going to send you notifications to remind you that you have this streak going, but it’s a lot to keep up on. So talking to kids again, not in a judgmental way, but just acknowledging the pressure of that and, and how that can be really hard. And sometimes you’ve got a streak with somebody that’s not even that good of a friend, but it’s become meaningful in its own way and you don’t want to be the one to end. So conversations about all that tricky stuff.

TERI: And there’s a way just to be warned. Because this has happened with me. I actually do Snapchat with just my kids and their significant others. So it’s a way that we all stay connected. Now they probably Snapchat with a 100,000 other people. I don’t know. But for us, it’s a great little connection. And we’ve had that whole thing where the streak is broken. And, you know, like my 18-year-old son, Ian, he especially he’s super, super social and he’s really into it. And he’ll be like, “Mom, you left me open!” And so apparently left me open. It means that I looked at his snap and I didn’t snap back. And then, so then I’ll just have a busy couple of days and I’ll lose my streak. And maybe we had 120-day streak. And he probably has like 450-day streaks, you know? Here’s what happens though, parents be warned. Snapchat will ask you if you want to restore that streak and with a click of “yes,” it’s 99 cents. Easy peasy, right? Not if that kid has 100 contacts. So just let your kids know. “Please, my son, if you are connected to my account,” which if they’re 13, 14, 15, they are! They don’t have their own credit card. And so right away, boom! All they’re doing is saying is “Yes, yes, yes, yes. Restore my streaks!” And all of a sudden they just spent a hundred bucks. Yikes.

DR. AMY: Wow.

JESSICA: I’m so glad you brought up the leaving open thing. Okay, so this is, we have to understand as, you know, now adults that didn’t grow up with this technology, this is really complicated social dynamics. So that means a lot. If you, if something is left open, that means a lot. But what you said, Teri, is so true. Sometimes life gets busy. And so, so one kid might be reacting to being left open where the other one didn’t intend to actually, you know, hurt this person, you know. But sometimes it is very intentional, you know. But that that whole navigating that the dynamics that are tricky. So as a parent, I have to realize I so don’t get this at a deep level, you know. So I have to come at this with a lot of curiosity to try to understand the dynamics of this, of this for my kids. You know, and often I need to be cautious with the advice I’m sharing, because it could be so off base, because I don’t understand the deeper level meaning of a lot of these communications. So we have to be aware of that as parents that we are, we are not fully getting the social dynamics of what’s happening online. And so we have to be careful with what we advise because it could be totally inappropriate and turn our kids off. So if we can come from a place of curiosity and just trying to understand how this works, we’re going to have a lot better luck connecting with our kids and giving them really horrible, unrealistic advice.

DR. AMY: I think that’s so important. Yeah.

JESSICA: Yes. There’s the key. There’s the takeaway.

DR. AMY: Yeah, because we, I mean, this isn’t our area of expertise, right? Like we don’t have the same kind of experience and not, and even if we are snapchatters, like Teri, is that what you say? Snapchatters? Even though, even though Teri is a snapper, she does not have the experience of being a snapper as a teenager. Right? So even though, yes, we use this technology, we’re not coming at it from a preteen or teenage brain.

ESSICA: Yes. Yes. And, you know, in, in this book that is, you know, really for a, you know, someone who’s just getting started, you know, I don’t unpack all those very complicated hidden rules, you know. Because they will come to those over time and those will change, you know, like, you know, Snapchat might not even be the thing by the time some of these readers are reading this book. So it’s more of a baseline. Here’s your foundational groundwork as you enter this, you know, very complex connected world. But it is always changing. And yeah, the dynamics are, they’re complicated. These kids, amazing. It’s really amazing that they are navigating this. It’s, it’s not easy.

DR. AMY: Okay, so I have a question not related. You said that you wrote the majority of this book during COVID. Now we have this explosion of AI, of artificial intelligence. Have you had an opportunity to chew on that and the implications of that yet?

JESSICA: You know, I don’t know where that’s going to go. I’ve been thinking about that. And AI is not new, you know, like, so a lot of programs that we’ve already been using use AI, you know, like when our emails start to type what we might want to say for our first line or, you know, Grammarly that’s fixed. So there’s, it’s definitely been out there. But what I don’t understand is what the impact is going to be for schools. So what I am hearing on the ground is that students are absolutely already using this to write whole entire papers and we are not in a place where we can police that and know whether that’s happening. So to answer your question, I don’t know. Like how does education respond and, and what is the impact on education? What are the skills that kids need to know now, knowing that this is just going to get smarter and faster and better. So, yeah, I, I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s, that’s a really big question of how the impact, how this could impact all of us in so many ways, including education and work.

TERI: The world is so different.

JESSICA: Oh, I know. And it’s happening so fast. I mean, that was really fast. Like last year, you know, kids in high school were writing their papers. And I’m like, wow, now there’s a lot of students—and I shouldn’t, I’m not going to generalize all, but according to, you know, the high school sources I have, there’s a lot of kids using that as their first, you know, their first blush of, of writing. And then we have to come to terms like, okay, is that okay? Or, or is that not okay? Or how do we want to, what do we want to do with this?

DR. AMY: Yeah. And why wouldn’t they? Why I would, I mean, if I, if I’d have been 13 and had to write an essay on Paraguay, you know, I feel like let this computer system write it. Even if I have to learn a little bit of the basics about Paraguay for my test … Oh, my gosh, if I don’t have to write it, why wouldn’t I? It’s really, really, really hard to tell our kids you shouldn’t do that or to shame them for it because it’s like, well, it makes sense. How incredible. Technology is amazing.

JESSICA: Yeah. Yeah. So what are the skills we need to know for the future? And how do we make sure that this is spitting out good information?

DR. AMY: Yeah, I actually, you know, I’m in some podcasting groups and I actually had saw a post of someone saying, “Hey, is it okay, because I can’t afford to hire actors to be on my podcast, is it okay if I use AI for that to have a conversation with an AI bot?”

TERI: Oh my goodness.

DR. AMY: Like, it kind of blew my mind. So this person, instead of interviewing someone, is going to interview with AI, like an AI voice.

TERI: Wow.

DR. AMY: Like fascinating.

JESSICA: Wow. That is so, it’s so, it is mind blowing. And I mean, that’s why the writer strike is happening right now. They don’t wanna be replaced by AI. And I, I also wanna, I’m like, “Gosh, I wonder if AI had written “The Phone Book.” Wonder what that would have been like. Wonder what that would have been like. So yeah, I don’t, I don’t know where this is headed. This is, yeah, stay tuned ‘cause this is going to be really interesting how this ripples through society.

DR. AMY: Yeah, absolutely.

TERI: We are, we’re getting close to being out of time and I just want to come back to what I feel like you said just a little bit earlier that I want our listeners to hold onto and that I think is really, really key about this entire conversation and this concept, this new world, everything is changing. Be curious so that that’s what I need to do. I’m thinking, okay, I’m on that drive. I’m on that road trip. I want to read that chapter, have one of the kids read sections out loud, whatever, so that we can talk about it. However, that looks. But the biggest thing I need to do is say, “Nakota, help me understand why. Why is it so important that you be”—he’s my 13-year-old—”that you be online with your friends. You know, from we talked about 10 o’clock needs to be off, but you’re online with your friend from, you know, 10:30 to midnight after I think you’re off. Help me understand why.” And if I’m curious, then maybe I’m going to hear things like, “Well, that’s the only chance he had because his brother was this and it’s the only way I have to connect with my friend.” And he has said some of that, that it’s the only connection he has with that friend is that online gaming app. And how I, I need to understand that. How can I just say, “No, shut it down.” Cause social, I mean, friendships are important. That social connection is important. So that at least will give me grace. And even if I can put parameters on it, “Okay, how about three nights a week” or whatever I need to do? But if I’m curious first, that I’m all about connection with my kid instead of control.

JESSICA: Yeah. And coming to some place of compromise. So once we have that deep understanding, what is a way that, you know, “We know that you really want to connect with your friends and that’s where your friends are hanging. And I know as a mom, it’s one of my jobs to make sure that you are taking care of your well-being and sleeping. So how can we meet in the middle on that?” Because you and in many ways we come to this like with technology is often so bad, but in many ways they’re doing exactly what we did. You know, we listen to music and boom boxes. They’re listening on Spotify. You know, we used to play Atari video games. They’re all connected online. You know, we used to actually get together and have parties. They’re all hanging out on Snapchat. So they’re doing this. I think what is so different is because it’s 24 hours, you know, it is nonstop and so we can help them try to, to take care of themselves in this, in this place that is, it’s never ending. But yeah, I love that. So you have come from a place of curiosity and connection, and see if you can find some middle ground there.

DR. AMY: Yeah. And I think I want to add to that too. You all have heard me say many times that connection is the number one buffer against mental health crisis. And frequently I hear that parents choose taking phones away as their go to consequence. And so I come at that totally differently. You know, as a psychologist, I would say find another way. Like, find a different consequence if that’s the way you parent, that you want to impose a consequence. Don’t take connection away. Because our kids need that.

JESSICA: Absolutely.

DR. AMY: Okay. So one thing that I just want to make clear to our guests, I mean, our listeners, um, is that this book is for kids. Right? So this book is informational for parents, but hands on interactive for preteens. And so that’s what makes you different, Jessica, as one of our guests, right? That you’re not, you didn’t write a book for parents. You wrote a book specifically for kids so that they can dig in, hear stories about other kids their age, find out really cool weird facts, but also really truly understand what happens when they interact in different ways with their technology. Am I right? Is that how I would say it?

JESSICA: Absolutely. You know, and for me, like the ideal reader is maybe just about to take a leap up from where they are, you know, whatever they got now. They’re about to go from the iPad to the phone or something. So they’re about to launch into maybe some more freedom. So I love kids to read it at that point. And, you know, and of course, I always encourage families to read it too, because it’s going to give them a better understanding of, you know, what kids are about to experience and can have some, you know, foster some of those communications. But yeah, my hope was to arm them with information and awareness as they, as they enter this new, you know, digital world.

DR. AMY: What are you working on next?

JESSICA: Oh, that’s a good question. Yeah, I’ve been so busy on these books and I’m like, I need to write another book. So I’m open to ideas. I’ve thought about recircling back and maybe, so my first book was really written for girls and one of the biggest pieces of feedback I’ve had is that boys need this too. So I’m circling back on that and I might go there. I might go to again, a friendship focus book, maybe with a lot of this, maybe these online social dynamics, which are so complicated, you know, for all genders. But I haven’t started yet. Yeah, so open to ideas. I like tricky, hard things that teens are facing. So, so if you have any ideas, send them my way.

DR. AMY: Well, sex is always a good topic.

JESSICA: I know! Actually, that sounds like consent. Maybe I should write about consent. That would be really interesting.

TERI: And, and gaming. I think for preteen and young teen boys, you know, online games, and the, and it is, it has now become very relational, very connected. Because there’s these online gaming apps where they’ve got the headphones on, they’re talking to their friend. They have this one screen, they’re looking at a friend and then they’re all sort of viewing the same video game and they’re like participating.

DR. AMY: They’re on Discord on this screen and the actual game on this. TERI: Yeah. Which is so cool. It’s so cool. Like you can’t get together to play Monopoly because your friend is not across the street. They’re like way down in another town, you know, It’s awesome.

JESSICA: I know!

TERI: How do we navigate that in the time frame? And yeah, that would be a good topic.

JESSICA: That would be good. I’m taking notes. DR. AMY: And then, I think step-families are blended families. Oh, yeah. It’s also a really challenging topic. Like we, we know that teens have a more difficult time going through divorce and remarriage than younger children do. And so, that would be interesting. Like, how do we navigate, you know, opening our hearts to new brothers and sisters, new parents, right? Like, that would be interesting.

JESSICA: Yeah. Yeah.

DR. AMY: We have, we’ll just keep throwing those ideas. Turn them out. You can use AI to help you.

JESSICA: Okay. Good. I’ve decided as soon as my kids get back to school, I’m on it. New book. I’ll keep you posted.

TERI: All right. Sounds great.

DR. AMY: All right. We are out of time. This has been a fantastic third conversation with Jessica Speer. Thank you so much for coming back and sharing your wisdom and encouragement and cool facts. And we just love hearing from you. So listeners, if you would like more information about Jessica’s work, her website is That’s S-P-E-E-R. You can also connect with her on Facebook at Jessica Speer author, Twitter at Speer Author. She’s got a bunch of handles. I’m going to just put those in the show notes for you and of course, on the page for her episode. So we’ll also put a link on how to purchase her book, “The Phone Book; Stay safe, Be Smart, and Make the World Better With the Powerful Device in Your Hand.” Thank you so much for listening today. If you like us, please follow us on social media at the Brainy Moms. Do it right now before you forget. If you love us, we would love it if you would leave us a five-star rating and review on Apple podcasts. If you would rather watch us, we are on YouTube as well.
That is all the smart stuff we have for you today. Catch you next time.

TERI: Bye. See ya!