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The scary truth about what's hurting our kids

In the past week, I’ve read several studies that are scary to me… it’s the scary truth about what’s hurting our kids.   We all know that what our kids hear becomes their inner voice, but it’s hard to control what they hear from others, isn’t it?

CNN recently interviewed Dr. Jean Twenge, author of iGen and her interview worried me – because I saw the truth that I would be facing in just a few short years as my oldest son would enter high school and I would be parenting teens and elementary ages kids too.   Dr. Twenge started doing research 25 years ago on generational differences, but when 2011 -2012 hit, she saw something that would scare her to the core.   This is the year when everyone had video games and those having iPhones went over the 50% mark.

Think about what that really means:  it was when people began to have access to the digital world.  Social media took off, sending videos & photos increased (along with feelings of being left out).  The line that separated our home lives from our school/work & social lives became very blurred.

The results of that showed teen behavior that should scare all of us.

  • This was the year that more kids started to say that they felt “sad, hopeless, useless… that they couldn’t do anything right (depression).”
  • They had frequent mood swings.
  • They felt left-out and lonely.
  • The depression rate is rising even faster among millennials (up 47 percent) and adolescents (up 47 percent for boys and up 65 percent for girls. (source: BCBS report)
  • Depression Diagnoses of major depression are rising fastest among those under age 35.
  • Depression Diagnoses have increased 47% since 2013 among millennials (ages 18–34).”
  • A substantial increase in suicide rate.

Before I give you any more info, I want you to look at these graphs of what could be considered negative behaviors and look at how the information correlates to the iPhones being released.

They aren’t hanging out with friends nearly as much.

A close up of a graph.
scary truth about what's hurting our kids

They aren’t dating as much in their teen years.

A screenshot of a graph.

More likely to feel lonely in their teen years.

scary truth about what's hurting our kids

They are getting less sleep.

She goes on to say that we are in the worst mental health crisis in decades.   You can get her book, iGen, with my Amazon affiliate link here, to read the rest of her findings.

Why is this happening?  Why are kids more depressed because of electronics?
Think about when we were in school – we didn’t know every time that there was a get-together that we weren’t invited to and we didn’t see pictures of each outing, game, or party.

We didn’t care what we looked like when we were hanging out with friends in my teenage years, because we were the only ones that were there- I can remember sitting around with my best friends in our sweatpants, just laughing – I didn’t wear makeup or care if I had my hair fixed just right, because the worry of a phone or camera wasn’t there.

Think about bullies.

When we left school, we left them. If teasing happened, it didn’t happen at home.  It didn’t happen so publicly. Everyone couldn’t see it or know what they were teasing other kids about since they weren’t there.  

Now, it’s all public knowledge, and our kids’ peer group can join in or watch. It’s horrifying.

I can’t imagine being a tween or teenager now.  Although- as the parents of children, we have to believe it, because we have to help our children navigate it. And the parents and teen relationship is much more difficult. It’s hard to be a role model and encourage your teen when you have difficulty relating, and raising teenage boys and girls well has never been important.

the scary truth hurting our children

According to Victoria Prooday, Occupational Therapist & writer at, “There is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels – our children… Researchers have been releasing alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in kids’ mental illness, which is now reaching epidemic proportions:

She goes on to say that “Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood:

  • Emotionally available parents that stay connected
  • Conversations that included eye contact
  • Clearly defined limits and guidance
  • Responsibilities
  • Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
  • Movement and outdoors
  • Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom

Instead, children are being served with:

  • Digitally distracted parents
  • Indulgent parents who let their teenage sons and daughters “Rule the world”
  • A sense of entitlement rather than responsibility
  • Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
  • Sedentary indoor lifestyle
  • Easier access to drugs and alcohol that can lead to substance abuse
  • Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments”
    How true… and how sad.

You can read the rest of her story and more at

I couldn’t agree more.  According to, “Despite the rise in teen depression, the study, which analyzed data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, reported that there wasn’t a corresponding increase in mental health treatment for adolescents and young adults. Researchers said this is an indication that there is a growing number of young people who are under-treated or not treated at all for their symptoms.”

The article goes on to say that it’s not just how our teens behave and feel, it’s young kids – in elementary school.  School Counselors like Ellen Chance in Palm Beach say they see evidence that technology and online bullying are affecting kids’ mental health as young as fifth grade, particularly girls.

“I couldn’t tell you how many students are being malicious to each other over Instagram. “I’ve had cases where girls don’t come to school, and they are cutting themselves and becoming severely depressed because they feel outcasted and targeted.” She says she now sees cutting incidents pretty much weekly at her elementary school, and while they vary in severity, it’s a signal that not all is right.”

A group of kids looking at their phones.

What can we do about it?

1. Swap Chores for Screentime

Responsibilities increase their self-worth.   Example: if you don’t set the table, we can’t eat.  If you don’t wash your clothes, you will have nothing to wear tomorrow:

“To develop a high self-esteem a person needs a purpose. A key component to high self-esteem relies on how you view yourself regarding contribution. In other words, in the child development process, chores are a big role in a kid’s self-esteem.” ~Impact Parenting.

 Swap Chores for Screen Time.  If they want to have screen time, they need to pitch in first.  

They need to learn that work comes before play.   This will drastically cut back on their electronic time without any nagging or yelling from you. You can purchase the cards here. 

Cards to swap chores for screen time by yourmodernfamily

2. The AAP now suggests screening all children for depression starting at age 11.

3. Get back to what we did before phones (back to what our parents did when we were young)… spend time playing games with our kids.

4. Spend dinnertime talking.

5. Drop everything that you are doing when your kids get home from school to TALK to them.

6. Make dinner without having the TV on, the phone close by, or the tablet tuned into something.

7. Use any ‘car time’ to talk to our kids (maybe even by not allowing electronics in the car)

8. Be sure that your child is getting enough hours of sleep.   This is a substantial contributing factor.  

9. Don’t keep a lot of junk food in the house.  Limit junk food & replace it with fruits & vegetables.  If your child is picky, they can certainly find a fruit or vegetable that they like.  (I’ve taught our kids to make smoothies, too, but they have to clean up after themselves, or they lose the privilege of using the blender… they LOVE to make them, so this is a consequence that they will not want to be placed on them).

A close up of a calendar on a white background.

Join the one-on-one time challenge (30 days) for FREE. 

11Have a no-tech week and tell your kids to “go play!”   Don’t feel the need to always play with them.  My job, as a play therapist, is to teach parents how to play with their kids to help them, so while I always think that playing with your kids is a good idea, but I also want them to play alone.  I want them to learn how to keep themselves entertained.

12. From the time that our kids were very young, I gave them time to entertain themselves, and now they are able to find ways to keep themselves busy (drawing, playing, building, etc..)

13.  Don’t rescue your kids. Here’s a recent example that happened in our house:
I’ve started having our kids pack their lunches (with my supervision), but yesterday one of our sons decided to wait.. .and wait… and wait.  When it was down to 10 minutes before leaving, he asked me to pack it.  

I said no, and he then asked for lunch money.  

I said, “I think it’s upstairs in your piggy bank if you have some in there.” His face said it all.   I wasn’t going to buy him out of this.  It was his responsibility.

It is NEVER easy to teach our kids these lessons, but they serve our kids well. He quickly made himself lunch and was on his way. He learned a valuable life lesson about preparing himself for the day.

14.  Talk to your kids about why they need to come to you if something is wrong.  I talk to our kids about all of this, and they know that I would do anything to help them.   I say it daily… “If you are ever feeling sad or left out about something and it becomes too big for you to handle easily, come to me.”

Yes, it’s a lot to tell them, but it is the truth.  I need them to know it.  It’s not a joking matter, and it’s not one to take lightly. Talk to your kids TODAY.

15. Make a rule with yourself that you will limit YOUR online distractions when your kids are home. Set a time that you can put electronics away… for example: Make 3:30-9:00 a no-tech time for you, the parent.   (or whatever hours your kids are home). It will not only benefit your kids, but it will help you, too.

Yes, it’s the scary truth about what’s hurting our kids, but we have the power to help.

Here are more posts you might like:

lay with me
A group of people walking on a beach
Cards to swap chores for screen time by yourmodernfamily

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. It’s so true – it almost breaks my heart
    As you say we as parents and grandparents have to change the way we take care of our children and grandchildren. Not only must we dedicate the time we spend with them to them and talk with them, make them really useful in the family – but very important we must play with them and HUG them, kiss them, hug them again. The brain reacts when we get physical with our children and dopamine and other neurotransmitters do the same. This can counteract depression in a natural way.
    And – we need more hugs, kisses and in general more contact between people of all ages. Let us make love – let us make our lives full of love ❤️ and sunshine ☀️☀️

    1. Yep- that’s the hard part… changing US to change how they feel.

      Thank you for taking the time to write, Susanne.

      1. But what happens if it’s too late? If you have children that are older than adolescents?

        1. Honestly it may look different than what it would if your children were younger, but I don’t think it’s ever to late. It will probably be hard at first but baby steps and don’t give up!

          1. Yes as parent to teenagers when they do not want to spend time with their parents. I am always suggesting get out and play with your mates. To my son. Daughter is already hooked on her social media world😫

          2. apologize to them from deep in your heart. Tell them what you have learned and be sure they understand. They say, in family therapy, that it takes three generations to heal. Let it begin with you.

        2. I think that if YOU (as an adult) wouldn’t want someone to give up on you, you shouldn’t give up on them. Just because they’re older doesn’t mean they can’t (or won’t) change. What can it hurt to try??

          1. It never to late to help our loved kids pre teen teen younglearning adult a parents wise word amd wise teaching will always make a impacted thats why we are call parents simple we are a life time of teachers a real parents dedicates the value of a young imspiring life to the fulest sorry bad speller bit point made hugs kisses play is needed good day folks

            1. Glenn, I don’t see why your reply to this article is a punctuation bashing of someone else’s comments on this topic. What Kramer said was valuable. Who cares about the lack of punctuation in how that person replied? Maybe they do not have a great handle on the English language, like you do, but…isn’t what you just did, a case in point, of what we don’t want our children to do? Be kind. That goes a long way!

          2. Hi there I totally agree itz Never too late no matter how many Wrongs I am Alwayz there 24/7 no matter what!! Good or bad times!! Mum is always there I may not always have the answers or agree on what has happnd but being a mum thatz ehat I feel!! 💖💖

        3. Exactly!!! And my 14 couldn’t care less about doing chores and having privileges taken away, she couldn’t care less about not having lunch, trust me, nothing works and when she did put dishes in the dw she just laid them flat not between the racks!!! She won’t spend time with us and doesn’t like us in her room! She won’t take a walk, the only thin she will do is go to yoga

          1. Ask her to teach you about yoga. Tell her the reasons you think it might help you cope with your life. Kids love to be the experts rather than always being the ones who need to be helped. This may show her that you value her talents and knowledge and open the door to more open communication.

            1. I agree Ashley. Also despite her pushing away, most kids want to know the young are still loved. Often the way we act reflects how we think about ourselves. Maybe try verbalising that you love your daughter and always will. Maybe apologise to her for mistakes you may have made (we all make mistakes). It is so hard to be patient, but try to remember your daughter is still young and trying to work out who she is. One of my daughters brought me to despair at times (now 24) but in the end just loving her … and telling her I loved her and being as consistent as I could be with boundaries got us through (along with LOTS of prayer lol). Hang in there Mum!

          2. This doesn’t happen overnight if they are teens now. To demand they start doing thing so now will just stress you out and the kids get more rebellious. They use their learned helplessness to manipulate and control the family. You are the parent not them. You’re yelling at a kid that you groomed basically to run the show. Only problem is the real world isn’t remotely easy and they get a rude awakening too late when they try and run the show at a job. They are dictating when and what days they can work. Um sorry you’re fired and there’s a million good people behind you that need a job so bye bye. Then you get the boss discriminates or they are expecting too much when they know I can’t do what they are asking. Well hello that’s what work is you learn to do the job. But they can’t get away with it. Then the big thing now is I’m depressed have anxiety and can’t be around people, social anxiety. It is a rampant learned behaviour with able kids because they have found out that it’s easy to get meds get diagnosed with anxiety which in turn now a days is labelled a disability which in turn gets you out of working. Every single person could answer yes to getting any of these problems so Drs have to smarten up and quit helping them be helpless also. Sooner or later there’s will Ben someone that will shut your kid down and call them on their BS. Then they get more diant cause what has worked all their life isn’t working anymore, then bam reality sets in but too late. Very few people have anxiety or depression to the extent that they don’t work or demandmeds Tovar cope o. Those kids actually try harder to show they can do it on meds off meds whatever it takes. And you better believe that all these years your kid has been running you that when they’ve go to joe blows they do the dishes and say please. If they do that then there’s is a hope for them. If they don’t and act the same then look out Youl” have them living with you until you kick them out after more years of stress and fighting. We used to have to be up with our resumes at 9 in the morning and hunt for work. And if it’s was McDonald’s we didn’t care because we had to start somewhereintime. We didn’t expect 20 hr for doing nothing basically. You want more than that get your ass back to school or get a trade. And And none of this shit I don’t have money to go or you guys didn’t save for me to go. My kids both did loans or mature student loans cause we didn’t have money to put them through school band neither didn’t most our friends for their kids” so throw your kids clothes back in their room shut the door and when they have nothing to wear they either wash it or start wearing dirty clothes end of story they aren’t babies and have to arms and legs. As for eatin they get one plate one cup and cutlery. If they want to eat they have to wash their own 4 dishes. If you’re kid has a fit over those w2 simple things then you basically have raised a narcissistically entitled entitled bra,

          3. S. Bull and also Tanya — If there is going to be any fix with a child who refuses to cooperate, the only hope is in validating the not-so-subtle signs of anger. An angry child deserves a hearing, deserves to be taken seriously when he or she is expressing open anger, non-compliance, or seeming desire to be gone.
            I always recommend parental apology. First, you may have to take a good, long look at self and see where maybe there could have been better days, methods, etc., then you have to say to the older child, “I can see something here is wrong and I want to talk. I know I’m not perfect and I’ve done hurtful things, but I want to do better. Tell me what you wish I would change first.” Keep this up, b/c it is seemingly easier to some people to just pretend all is well, but actually be in denial, while at the the same time, acting out as if everything is all wrong. Kids! (And don’t we also do this on the job, sometimes?)
            Having a date time with the non-compliant child also helps. Fine–let her be sullen, but do go for ice cream or a movie together and plan awesome things like canoing or even hiking so the family gets wet or messy or starving or some other human condition–together. Doesn’t have to be expensive, just grounded in our common humanity. My folks used to love taking us out to a local park for cooking breakfast over an open fire. Nuts, they were, but some of my fave memories. The wounded child needs these events. Even if normalizing never seems to happen, even if they eventually leave angry, they will remember the goofy times, the warm ways you eventually did try. You will be filling the hole you’ve made in their lives a little, giving them something in the “family” bank to draw from, forever.

        4. No matter how old you are, you always benefit from being acknowledged as important, being loved, being hugged. Being asked your opinion to a question teaches people to think and have conversations of what they think. Together time is important — so much can be shar3d on a walk or a ca trip.

        5. Start in your home. I decorated a box and placed it inside the front door. My home has become a ‘no phone zone’ unless I say otherwise. Guests included. I became fed up with having a cup of tea w someone and they spend most of the visit on the phone instead of visiting. It was difficult at first with lots of huffing and puffing but amazing results. When they were in school we had a ‘ no screens’ policy during the school week. Worked for us

          1. Dosn’t Work when schools require them to have laptops and chrome books to do their homework on. I try to take away the electronics but they need them for school work and studying. Their text books are all online now. I wish they would allow for paper and pencils again to do homework.

          2. What a wonderful idea! My child would “die” if I did this, haha, but I might actually get to see the front of his face instead of the top of his head!! I am convinced these kids are going to have major neck, wrist, and hand problems down the road. Probably eye issues and possibly seizure issues too.

        6. As a young adult, it says a lot to me when a person, especially my parent, wants to do something with me without electronics. Start by having electronic free outings with your young adult child. Go out to dinner and leave the phones in the glove box. Go out to do something they love and leave the phone behind.

          As you do this more and more, they will follow your example.

        7. talk to them. Educate them on making smart decisions about how they use their time and what too much facebook ad such can do to your mood. Honestly, I think they sometimes listen better when they know it’s adult-to-adult and it’s their choice to think about it and decide how to act on it. When their still at home, dealing with rules, they feel more compelled to roll their eyes and rebel.

        8. Never to late to hug.
          Hugs in passing all day. Make sure they or you go say goodnight…every night.

        9. My spouse kicked me out when 3 of my kids were teenagers and replaced me with an evil stepmom. I was heartbroken because I knew that I would not have influence over them on a daily basis. They are all adults now and I can tell you that I have influence now. Why? Because each of them knows that I love them deeply and unconditionally. They confide in me in times of difficulty and return that love. So in short, it’s never too late to develop an unconditional, loving relationship with your kids. If you build a relationship of love, respect, and trust, they will listen to you and always respect your opinion. It is the most valuable blessing we as parents can possibly achieve.

        10. My husband was never hugged during his years living at home and then boarding school. It wasn’t until he moved to Hawaii that he experienced hugs from friends. He decided to hug his dad for the first time when he saw him and his dad was a bit startled but after a few times, it became second nature and you could see he appreciated it.

      2. This was a very valuable read!! Thx!!
        Value , we need more if it and having articles such as this can help one see , that when we change the way we look at things , the things we have been looking at , truly do and will change…
        cody t

      3. Children are being raised without God they don,t know anything about Him or worship Him. Therefore you are going to have big problems . Children love to talk and know all aboutGod. This has to be our first priority in raising God.

        1. I have to agree that God is the important ingredient we have taken away from our children. We have taken God and Jesus out of every part of a child’s life (and given them a cell phone). How can we expect our children to feel loved and secure? Besides parents being digitally distracted, the media is full of horror that is not fit for any one, no matter what age, to witness. We have become desensitized and unfortunately the things we expose ourselves to are enough to make one mentally unstable. Where can an adult turn, let alone a child, when bad things happen? No bedtime rules? No self-discipline. The Bible is the best teacher on how to live, because it was inspired by the loving and living creator. If there is a depression epidemic, read the Bible verses hat tell us that in times of trouble we are to rely on God’s strength. For example, the Bible warns against not getting rest, feeding the mind with evil, saying that these things will have adverse effects. The Bible says that no good thing will be withheld from those who follow Christ. We are spirit, and I believe that other religions and faiths in a loving God can also nurture people make them strong and bring them true joy. The Bible warns that too much of a good thing is bad for us. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness” (Proverbs 5:23)
          The good news is that it’s never too late!

          1. I am a mother,grand mother and great grandmother and my working secular profession is a nurse, a Early Childhood teacher and instructor and was and remain very grateful for all these wonderful helpful and learning experience’s however with this there is one ingredient that was of the utmost important wa sand is that of my belief and experience I have and required was my faith in God and the Bible which is the best educational and spiritual tool with all knowledge and human Science’s needed .therefore I totally agree with what Cheryl who so apply shared in her comment.

          2. Amen,,,,parents do all of this talking about spending time and doing things as a. family,,,if they really want to spend some quality time get there kids and themselves in a good faith based, Bible believing and preaching church…a once them and there kids come to know theLord as there personal Savior, then they will know what true love is…..

          3. I do believe that God is a very important to our children’s lives. Other wise we may loose them completely to the sins of the world.

        2. Seriously? God has nothing to do with it. It’s all about the choices we make… the bible is a great work of fiction written by men.

    2. I love this. I have a nonprofit Family Patterns Matter. This is what we address and discuss with our youth. They are the ambassador who can with the right tools from adults in their life bring change with their peers.

    3. YeS! I fully agree with you and the article saying put down the electronics! YES, communicate face to face & voice to voice~relationship!

    4. The one thing that always makes me wonder is kids saying they are bored. I was never bored, If I had free time I’d find something to do like read, a real book. We got told to go out and play when we got home from school, and that was interacting with all the kids in the neighborhood. After dinner was homework time, then bath and bed. We had chores on Saturday, and they had to be done. There were a few of us who went to the first persons house and do her chores, then moved on to the second person. But I had time with my Mom, drying dishes as she washed, lol. We went to church and Sunday school every Sunday. Our Mom’s didn’t work tho, Mom working has added a whole new wrinkle. And yet I still I suffered depression and still do.

    5. I Absolutely agree with all that you say! However, I see a huge breakdown of this loving, supportive interaction pattern as children become teens and develop a mind of their own. This stage is always challenging for us parents, and it is sometimes hard to see how much our teens still need hugs, words of encouragement, and a curiosity from parents as to how they view things. Parents find it hard to shift from being in charge of everything to gradually letting their teen have a say in what they do. I think that being loving, understanding, and listening to your kid is just as important–maybe moreso–than when they are younger. Good parents hold their ground on rules and policies that keep their teens safe, while still opening up these topics for discussion in order to foster mutual understanding, love, and respect for each other.

    6. Wow and thank you for this article! Much of what you wrote here is what is leading me to start Little Rooted Minds. We need families to wake up and realize they need to step in and do things differently because the impact is so harmful to their kids.

    7. This gives me hope. Finally some one that agrees with me and is willing to share it. If we don’t start making changes were destined to fail. Parents should stop buying them. There excellent baby sitters,but crave the human touch.

  2. Thank you soo much…i have 3 kids, aged 13, 11, 6. Two boys and a girl, this really helped me alot.

  3. Agreed! I really needed to read this. While my kids don’t have electronics, and I homeschool, I still sometimes struggle with structuring our day, and I know that is important in setting limits/boundaries. I will for sure make a note of these things. Kids need chores and responsibilities, even though sometimes they don’t act like it. <3

    1. I’m sure that has to be hard. I completely agree. 🙂
      Thanks for the note, Amber.

  4. Thank you for this. As a mother of 3, with a niece who took her own life, this scares me so much right now…. esp with an ex who doesn’t seem to acknowledge any of the points you raise. When on his time, they get unlimited screen and minimal quality time with him. How would you advise to deal in that case (NB: this is a high-conflict separation and he is so bitter, that nothing I do/say would be taken as being for the kids; in his eyes, it’s just about me)?

    1. OH no, Ruth. I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t even begin to understand how hard that had to have been. I would say that you just need to make the time with you matter all the more, so if they have an issue, they know to come to you.

    2. When parents have conflicting ideals it is never very easy. Thankfully your children have a chance to compare and contrast and will most certainly benefit from less screen time when they are with you. Please don’t waste any energy on trying to get their dad to change. Have your children read articles like this one, CNN reports about the cons of too much screen time etc… and they will start policing themselves!

    3. Ruth. Oh how your heart must be breaking! I am so sorry about all this.
      It is super important that you make your understanding of a healthy life clear to your children. The “no phones” box is a great idea. You might need a lock for it though.
      As your children migrate back and forth from an angry, irresponsible dad, to a loving, firm mom, they will begin to see the wisdom, the difference, and to appreciate it. They should not be allowed to use their phones except in your presence, b/c angry dads like to call during mom time. It has to be a rule. Especially at night while everyone sleeps but them. Sadly.
      But in firmness, there is room for smiles and laughs. It’s hard not to frown and holler, but smiling firmness, followed by excitement over whatever is next on the agenda, will be a memory they can draw from as they choose their own lifestyles eventually. And do plan the precious times you have with them. No time for wasting! Whether you color together, picnic, ride bikes, play Monopoly, or whatever you lead them into, make it quality they can appreciate and remember fondly when they are at the angry place. And do allow downtime, too. Find great books or classic movies that they can all snuggle down with and enjoy together. And do goofy fun things. Like roast marshmallows over the stove in the kitchen. or rearrange the living room in some nutty way or whatever. Make laughter happen. It’s good medicine.

  5. Some great points. Unfortunately, we live in a world where discomfort is sometimes considered abuse. If the child had not made lunch AND had decided not to spend their money to buy their own lunch, there may have been some well intentioned person that made the leap in logic to say that the child was being neglected.

    1. Yep- that’s the hard part of it. In the end, I would have caved because I wouldn’t want him to go without food. 🙁 (Shhh… don’t tell him that “I would have caved” part!)

      1. I just had this happen with my daughter who has been distracted when getting ready. I did make her use some of her money, but I split it with her. It still taught her a lesson, but she knew I was helping and cared too. Unfortunately, our school district is too child friendly sometimes (if that makes sense?). I made her buy lunch recently because she was late downstairs and we didn’t have time to pack and I got a call from the school asking if I would be able to drop off a lunch for her instead because she did not like the school lunch that day. I work. They know I work and was already in the office. Makes the parent’s job very hard without support from the “village!”

        1. I can totally relate. I get ZERO support from this village, and often times wonder where the adults are who enable this behaviour?.

        2. I read this comment to my teacher-spouse. He said that at the elementary school where he teaches, it is REQUIRED they allow the child to phone the parent concerning food. Not all teachers or other school personnel may agree with this rule, but must follow it. Perhaps the child should make lunch the night before while dinner is being prepared. This was my mom’s solution, back in the day, when I had difficulty getting myself and my lunch out the door on time.

      2. Becky, I look for ideas like yours with the lunch issue to help my kids feel some responsibility. There is a book called “The Difficult Child” by Stanley Turecki, MD. He offers a similar solution in his book, with a story from a mom, so that the child’s “problem” doesn’t become the parent’s problem. The child in the book was a middle-schooler who wouldn’t get up to go to school. The mom set it up with the principal of the school beforehand, and told the child the car was leaving for school at the normal time and no matter how ready he was for school, he had to be in that car. He wasn’t dressed for school (but the mom had some clothes in the car) and the principal knew this might happen, so calmly told the child he better go change out of his pjs. It worked — the child didn’t have a problem getting up in time to get ready for school after that. I like these ideas so the child can feel some sense of responsibility and ownership, and I think it helps them feel more confidence, too; they don’t always have to rely on a parent, they can do it themselves! And it’s good for the parents, too, as it helps us have a healthier relationship with our kids as we try to raise them to be self-sufficient adults. But they know they can count on our support at the same time. And it is important, as Kimberly pointed out, that the school is understanding and cooperative about parents trying to teach their kids life lessons.

        1. I love that book, “The Difficult Child”. By Stanley Turecki. It’s a horrible name for a book, but such helpful positive info inside for how to help make good out of difficult traits in your children! Highly recommended!

      3. Growing up my mom had us pack our lunches daily starting in 3rd grade and I did the same with my 3 boys. If they occasionally forgot to make it or bring it they SURVIVED just fine. They figured out that their mom was not a lunch taxi cab. They also figured out that their friends would share a half sandwich, their chips or an apple with them. Or my kids would walk over to the table in the cafeteria where kids could put food they weren’t going to eat instead of throwing it away, and other kids could eat it. They are all now recent college grads and very independent and well adjusted young men who have great jobs and their own apartments.

    2. I agree, Barry. I’d told my son to put his coat where it belonged. Later on, when he hadn’t, I told him if he didn’t put it in its spot and couldn’t find it in the morning, he’d have to go to school without one. Sure enough, he couldn’t find it and went without. The carpool driver that day, dropped the kids off at school, then went back home to home get him one of her son’s. She called him out of class (this was years ago) and gave him the coat because she felt sorry for him.
      We live in a warm climate and if it’s a certain temperature, the kids don’t go outside.
      When she called me later to tell me about it she started off saying, “This was probably a learning lesson, but,,,” and told me the story. She didn’t want him to be cold.
      I was so upset. This was a mother who did her kids’ homework when they were too tired to do it.

  6. I just finished teaching a class on Positive Guidance, and my class touched on many of the points you listed in the article. With my students being in their late teens and early twenties, the topic of cyber bullying is a major concern to them. They have witnessed it and many have dealt with it. It is truly alarming! Not long ago, I was in a restaurant with three friends. A nice looking family came in and were seated in a booth adjacent to us. This family, parents and children, each got out their cell phones or IPad and NEVER conversed! They only talked when the waitress took their order. Even more scary was when they continued to be engrossed in the electronics once their food arrived. We never saw them talk to each other. As a grandmother to six children, I understand how it can be in a restaurant when the wait for the food order becomes long. Also as a mother and an early childhood educator I see the importance of teaching social skills and manners when in a restaurant. I just hope and pray that families grasp the issue of how detrimental technology can be to the overall social and emotional development of children. To be honest, I totally dislike social media and truly think this has been a major breakdown in relationships rather that building relationships up. After all, why talk to one another when you can read it all anyway? And with social media, there is often no filter on what is stated. It is just sad to me! Thanks for your article. I plan to forward the link on to my students and the parents of my grandchildren.

      1. A suggestion about the restaurant – we often take a game to play whilst waiting for the food to arrive.

    1. Joyce, As a 70 year old grandmother of 5 grandchildren I totally agree with your views! I always wonder why parents of children age 16 and under would let their children become addicted to a smartphone. I believe if they need a cellphone, just purchase a no contract phone , like Tracfone, and use it for just outgoing/ receiving calls when away from the home. Upon returning home, they turn in the cellphone until they go out again. No texting, no social media, no internet, no games.
      If the child needs to email, etc.,then have them use an iPad, or the home computer under parental guidance.
      We grandparents see the writing on the wall…we can only be advocates for our grandchildren and try to be there for them and hope and pray for their survival in this fast paced, impersonal environment they are growing up in. I will not be around in 30 years to see how detrimental the age of technology will be on their physical and mental well being……how it will effect their brains, their posture and their fingers/ hands…..Thank you Becky for the wonderful informative subject matter…I 100% agree with everything!
      Gob Bless our children…..Children Come First!

  7. I have high schoolers, a freshman and a junior. I’d love to take away all electronics in the evening but nowadays 90% of their homework requires use of an electronic. Whether it’s accessing the teacher’s page for his/her online assignment, use of chats to do group projects with kids not in your neighborhood, or just typing up the report on paper, there is the forced need for electronics access. It drives me nuts! And it doesn’t help. I agree so much with these findings. The times my kids are off in their quiet rooms for homework is when they need less electronic access but if I take stuff away, they can’t complete their homework.

    1. Yes- our son is in 5th grade and ALL of his work is online. He literally has NO books. I can’t stand it. 🙁 His eyes have to hurt by the end of the day.

      1. There was an interesting study done comparing textbooks on electronics to paper textbooks. Students loved the electronic textbooks and thought they were reading faster and learning more but the study showed there was a significant difference in reading comprehension. Students did much better with paper textbooks rather than their electronic counterparts.

        1. Oh – if you ever find it, send me my way. I’d love to read it.

    2. Our kids do all homework requiring Electronics at the dining table where we can monitor their activity. No Electronics allowed in their rooms. This way, we know it is purely school work and nothing else.

    3. I totally agree! Having schoolbooks I’m& homework on line is very bothersome as you can’t be watching over your teen every minute which means they can be gaming or skyping while doing their home work and you won’t know. Even if you know what they are up to it’s hard to limit unless you start wiping their computer or iPad clean every day which is unrealistic these days. 🙁

  8. Love your article.
    Have you heard about Brad Huddleston, Digital Cocaine. Please look it up, our school had him come speak 2 yrs ago good info

      1. Totally disagree with talking to kids while driving. Wrong wrong wrong. Say hello then go home and talk. Being distracted while driving is dangerous. We lived near a school and had to deal with this on a daily basis.

  9. I love this article especially the part you wrote about you say to your kids, “If you are every feeling sad or left out about something and it becomes too big for you to handle easily, come to me. I want you to know that if you ever hurt yourself, you would be hurting your whole family. My happiness would go away with yours.” My nephew turned to drugs in 2012 and has been a heroine addict since. He has overdosed at least 4 times, last night was one. I think it is so sad that people are not spending time as a family and doing all those things you have listed. Our 11 and 8 yr olds are not allowed to have phones or computers with internet access. They are only allowed minimal tv time through the week, but it doesn’t bother them. They would rather be outside playing or talking or doing game night or crafts. The 11 yr old does not like that she cannot have a phone because “everyone at school has one”, but we have a different way of living and raising our kids. I worry for their future every day!!

    1. I am so sorry about your nephew. That has to be so scary. I’m the same way… oh and our eleven year old says the same thing. Just yesterday, while grocery shopping, he said “Mom – everyone at school has a phone.” and I said “Well… not everyone.” lol!! I just remind him that it’s not HIM that I don’t trust… it’s just everything that pops up on the phones & the temptations.
      ps- I’ll keep your nephew in my prayers.

  10. Oh my goodness- I’m so sorry. 🙁 If it helps (I’ve never really told anyone this), I had a pretty traumatic experience once & ended up on antidepressants. They really helped. Once I was better (a year or so later, I’d say), I was able to get off of them. It was in college, but I never think of antidepressants the same – they really helped. Plus, it seems like Bri has some pretty great parents that care about her, so I know she is going to get all the help that she needs.
    In the meantime, I will pray for her daily. Please keep me posted.

    1. Hi Becky, Can you remember the name of the medication you used? I’m terrified of anti-depressants because of some of the stories I’ve heard but want to consider them for my son who is struggles with depression. Thank you. And thank you for the great article!

      1. Oh man- I”m sorry. It was about 18 years ago, so I don’t remember.

  11. This articulates many of the observations and speculations I’ve had over the past 15+ years in youth ministry. Thank you for your work. So helpful.

  12. Please think of the medication as a bridge for your daughter to walk back over to you and her previous life. I have been on medication for depression for 20 years and if I miss a dose I can tell….my mind just starts thinking of really sad things and I withdraw from life. When I take the medication I can think of those same sad things but not become incapacitated by the thoughts. Adolescent and teenage girls’ hormones are changing a lot and it is a critical time for the brain. If she gets the medication now then there may be a possibility that her brain will wire itself in a way that helps control the depression for life. Neurons that fire together will wire together… so if she doesn’t get the medication now then she may set herself up for a lifetime of being prone to depression. The brain does not finish growing until ager 25 so she still has lots of time left. Please get her the medication. And also lots of exercise. lots of exercise. A team sport or individual sport.

    1. I’m very sorry about your situation and glad antidepressants have helped. However, your understanding of antidepressants is off base and I felt it a little alarming to read this advice. I kindly and respectfully disagree. Please read on…

      Antidepressants are NOT intended to be long-term (as you said, they are a “bridge”). To put it simply, your brain by design exchanges chemicals for “normal” functioning. When we’re depressed, the brain is exchanging less of our “happy” chemicals. When this is long-term and you seek advice from a medical doctor they often default to prescribing “Antidepressants”. This is supposed to be a short-term solution that serves as a “crutch” if you will , and provides the brain the “happy chemicals” it was not making itself.

      Take note – when you’re depressed, *most of the time* there are reasons. Your brain is CAPABLE of producing its own “happy” chemicals. It simply is not when we’re depressed right?

      When you take Antidepressants, you are providing the brain the “happy” chemicals it did not have enough of. Dangerously, if you stay on these medications, your brain will STOP producing it’s own “happy” chemicals because it no longer needs to. Your pills are doing that for it, right?

      Just like when a walking person must be in a wheelchair. If it’s Long-term, what happens to the legs? They atrophy (wear away) right? Perhaps the arms pushing the wheelchair become incredibly strong and disproportionately developed. The body and brain are designed to survive and adapt.

      This is when the process evolves into someone being essentially ‘trapped’ on the medication for “20 years” and cannot get off the drug. Like you said, when you miss a dose you go back to depression. That’s exactly what happened to you unfortunately and it’s very common.

      The brain does indeed “wire together” and Antidepressants trained your brain to not need to produces it’s own “happy” chemicals. It’s extremely difficult if not impossible for people long-term to stop taking Antidepressants.

      Please be aware antidepressants are to be a SHORT TERM ASSIST and should not be a front-end treatment unless absolutely necessary. Seek actual therapy to address the source(s) of issues and work on healing (Talk therapy, art therapy-great for kids).

      This coupled with seeing a naturopathic doctor (or have your MD run panels) to get the body in check (why not?). Taking a combination of yoga,meditation, equine therapy and/or Neurofeedback while doing talk therapy. My kids do these practices and see a play therapist as an outlet for issues beyond my ability to help with. I’m trained in psychology and nearly all these other modalities. They are all nothing more than brain training exercises and 100% of them are proven effective against depression. There is substantial research on the effectiveness of mindfulness and meditation (& yoga) on depression.

      Medications are generally intended to “suppress”. Talk therapy & the other modalities mentioned are designed to “bring it all up” and manage it. A *quality* therapist coupled with adjuct healing modalities will open space for the deep core issues to surface (not be forever trapped as trauma).

      It is not easy, remember as parents to take care of yourselves too. With Love…

      1. As someone who has had severe depression for my whole life, I have had continuous, exercise and talk therapy. No medications have worked ( I’m now 36 with a toddler of my own). Everyone is different. Everyone. I have had to realize that there are MOMENTS of happiness and have had to teach myself to be “happy”.If, by chance, my daughter has this genetically passed to her,(I do everything in my power to raise her correctly and with lots of guidance and love) but if she ends up on an antidepressant the only thing I’m worried about is if she’s happy. Unfortunately, we lost my husband and of course her father when she was just 7 months and me 34, so I’m worried not having her dad will affect her for life. I tell her that I am both mommy and daddy, but her daddy can always see her and protect her. It’s hard to handle with a near 4 year old. My point being, antidepressants aren’t the devil. Some may need as a bridge and some for life. If the person is happy; what does it matter?
        Love and light,

        1. Very well said Gina. Everyone’s body is different and everyone’s brain reacts differently. My now 16 yo son tried to commit suicide almost two years ago (April 19th) and after hospitalization, medication and Lots and lots of therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy, we are just now beginning to see the happy, self confident, outgoing, goal oriented and funny kid that he used to be. No, I did not want him to have to start antidepressants at 14 yo. However, I would do ANYTHING to help him from going back to where he was mentally 2 years ago. NO parent should ever have to go through the nightmare that we’ve experienced. I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy what my son went through and has been through in the past two years. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t relive the night of April 19, 2016 in my head and my heart. If he has to remain on antidepressants for the rest of his life, I am now ok with that fact. Hearing his dr and his therapist tell us for the past two months that they see no signs of suicidal thoughts/ideations and that in session and between sessions he is continuing to work hard on using the skills that he’s learned to cope when the depression tries to creep back into his brain, was like God saying to me, “I got this and he’s going to be ok mom”. I still find it difficult to not hold my breath24/7, to not continuously stress, and to relax and enjoy his ‘new-old self’ , however, my heart swells when he comes in the room and he’s laughing and telling jokes and picking on me and he says, “Mom, stop being so serious and have some fun”. I’ll probably always have a little guard up and my radars in tune where he’s concerned but at least we have the help of his wonderful dr and therapist at anytime that I need reassurance.
          The meds he is on are Provil 40 mg every morning and Buspar 30 mg 3 x a day and he’s also on Neurontin 600 mg at night to help with sleep, depression and restless leg.
          God bless each parent reading this and remember our children are gifts that God entrusted us with and He intended for them to be a top priority in our lives only behind Himself and our spouse.

  13. Thanks for the great article. I have an almost 8 year old and I’m convicted about my time on the phone. It’s an easy distraction. I like the idea of parents having to put down the screen when the kids are home. We do limit screen time for her, however, I don’t think enough.

  14. I know this is going to be a contraversial statement, because I do believe that the phone world we all live in can isolate us (and I love and use my iphone just as much as anyone). I also feel that in this day and age children and young adults are not brought up with a belief in God as much as generations past. Children do not have groups of people outside of school to support them (whether that is at a church, synagogue, mosque, etc), nor do they have faith that there is a God out there who loves them unconditionally and will help them get through tough times. We teach our children now (me included) to power up and add more stressful layers to their lives- accelerated school classes, sports, academic activities, community service, but rarely do we tell them to let go of the things that they don’t mentally need.

    1. Thanks for adding that comment to this important discussion! I also feel it’s an integral part of raising healthy kids. We’ve been through 3.5 years of struggle with our daughter. Things started going bad at the end of her 8th grade year. I needed a belief that God was there and had a plan for us, even in this painful and frightening time just as much as she did!!
      Love this article! Even with all we’ve been through, I have to remind myself and our kids time and time again about our screen time!!

  15. This article really makes me think about my own actions! My daughters are still small but I don’t want to give the wrong example with being on my smartphone all the time.