116: How to Navigate Your Child’s Digital World with Mom and Kids-and-Media Expert Devorah Heitner

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Enjoy the show!

What worries you about technology and your kids?
Is it online predators? Cyber bullying?
The idea that they’ll disappear into their little devices and you’ll never see them again?

My guest today, Devorah Heitner, is an expert at helping us understand technology and our kids – and ourselves.

Because like it or not, we are raising digital natives; we need to get this right!

Devorah has appeared on the Today show, NPR, the Discovery Education Channel; she’s been featured in Time magazine and Real Simple. Most recently, she’s written Screenwise, a book about raising kids in this digital age, highly recommended!

Today – election day if you’re listening in real time – Devorah is on the show to help us understand both raising kids in our digital world, and how to teach civility in this era of utterly uncivil political/public discourse.

To read more about my conversation with Devorah, view her amazing TED-X talk, and to listen to our conversation, go to weturnedoutokay.com/116!

Earlier in her career, Devorah did something really interesting: she helped privileged college students connect with underprivileged third-graders.

As she became interested in technology, the lessons she learned while watching those connections stayed with her, because the very fact of the connections had to do with a key human trait:


Devorah’s TED-X talk, “Empathy is the App,” shares about her research with middle schoolers, kids just a little bit older, most likely, than your kids are right now.

She talks about how much it hurts when your friends are posting pictures on instagram of a birthday party that you weren’t invited to; about kids learning not to continually text-spam when they’re not getting a response; about how tough it is for kids when their parents get so buried in their phones that they ignore the child standing right in front of them.

Each of these issues’ solutions is the same: empathy.

In fact, empathy comes up in just about every part of our conversation, from her new book, Screenwise, about raising kids in the digital age, to how we parents can model the correct way to disagree (hint: it’s not the way the political candidates have been disagreeing!)

I hope you enjoy our conversation. I know it’s one I’ll return to again and again in my quest to remember that empathy must be the basis for how I interact with the world.

Key Links:

Devorah’s book, Screenwise, is a must read if you are raising kids in this digital culture.

Along with her son, Devorah recommends the Finn Caspian podcast.

Also, check out Black College TV, which comes up in our conversation today!

112: What’s The Antidote to Anxiety? Part 2 of The Modern Parent’s Guide to Surviving This Election Cycle

To listen to today’s episode, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post and press the triangular “play” button.


According to this article last week at Vox.com, 55% of voters were “disgusted” with the campaign… back in September.
I’m betting that that number has gone up a bit as this election has changed from PG to R-rated.

And if we are that freaked out – how are our kids?

When our fear and upset level goes up, so does theirs.

You can make both you and your kids feel better by coming to my FREE online class:

How to Parent Young Children in this Mixed-up, Crazy World

I’ll teach you how to:
– Coach your kids through the election insanity
– Help them feel less anxious
– Lessen your own anxiety

You can make “Everybody Sucks 2016” a little better for yourself and your kids –

Go to weturnedoutokay.com and sign up for the October 20 (this coming Thursday) class!

I can help you help your kids through the election craziness, Thursday October 20 at 7 PM Eastern standard Time.

See you in class!

About this episode:

We are not immune to anxiety. In a contentious election cycle like the one we’re in now, with the days getting shorter, the holidays looming…

No wonder so many of us are losing sleep and stress-eating!

Today I’m thinking about a saying that has come up for me a lot in the years since I first started confronting my chronic illness:

“The antidote to anxiety is action.” – Elven Semrad

In this episode, we talk about one kind of action to avoid – and two kinds of actions you can take every day to reduce your anxiety.

Get the full notes and key links by going to weturnedoutokay.com/112!

When my wonderful psychologist, without whom I would probably not actually be alive today, shared Elven Semrad’s words with me, they resonated so strongly.

If anxiety is fear for the future, then the antidote places us firmly in the now – taking some kind of action.

My psychologist did caution me against one kind of action, however:

DO NOT ATTEMPT to numb anxiety with alcohol or drugs.

Taking these negative actions makes everything worse, and I would caution you – just as he cautioned me – to avoid the hell out of things that numb our emotions.

If you’re tempted to reply, as so many of us are, “this anxiety hurts!”, then allow me to present to you the actions you CAN take as the antidote to that hurt.

Here they are – the 2 kinds of actions you can take to alleviate your anxiety:

1) address the small everyday issues right in front of you, one at a time.
– Feeling cooped up? Take a short walk.
– You’ve got a list as long as your arm of doctors appointments to make, car oil-changes to schedule, accommodations to figure out for people arriving for Thanksgiving? Choose the MOST CRITICAL of these, and cross it off your list now.
– If it feels too big, break the task down until you have a series of steps, the first of which you can accomplish right now.
– Your home is cluttered and messy and disorganized? Choose one tiny piece of it to declutter and organize; when that tiny piece is done, move on to the next tiny piece.

2) strike back at the negativity in the air, the toxic vibes around you.
– Though it may seem counterintuitive, striking back at this negativity is best done by taking care of YOU.
– Sleep, exercise, good – at least, decent – nutrition, forgiving yourself when you screw up (notice I said “when,” because we screw up all the time and it so tempting to beat ourselves up about that); this is how we strike back.

And if you’re tempted to say now “but my anxiety is too large to be brought down by anything,” I’d like to share about what these two kinds of actions have done for me:

Action 1: in the winter of 2012, the muscles in my right leg had wasted away to the point where, the day I started aquatic physical therapy, I literally had to push my leg to make it go backwards in the pool.

I didn’t have enough strength in the leg itself to take one single step backwards in the shallow end, never mind keep myself afloat!

But I kept getting in that damn pool.

I addressed this “everyday” issue several times a week, and after a couple months not only could my leg move itself backwards in the pool, it withstood my body weight on land.

I’ll never, ever forget the feeling of placing all my weight on that leg for the first time since summer of 2011. It was awesome.

Action 2: I hate the scary vibe in the air right now. In past election cycles, usually by mid October, when this episode airs, I am a complete wreck. This is because I’ve stayed up super-late each night, scanning the Internet and fretting and worrying about the election itself. Along with limited sleep comes the urge to consume entire bottles of Nutella, so no surprise that my jeans would stop fitting by election day.

But I’m working extra hard to take care of me this year.
My primary goals are:
– get at least seven hours of sleep each night
– walk or strengthen my muscles every other day
– to help you feel better, to alleviate your anxiety by sharing with you what’s worked for me

And I really am noticing far less of a reaction to the atmospheric anxiety!

I’m wishing you the same, during this episode and every episode this fall with my “Everybody Sucks 2016” series.

Key Links:

Listen to part 1 of the Modern Parent’s Guides to Surviving This Election Cycle by clicking here.

What actions are you taking to alleviate your anxiety? Please share!
Go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact.

If you struggle in the tough moments with your young child, you might find Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics, the book I wrote to help you keep your cool in the face of all the Jedi mind tricks little kids are capable of, to be helpful.
Click this link to check the book out in Amazon, read the introduction for free, and decide if it’s right for you!