Navigating Smartphone Boundaries for Kids | Techless Talks Ep. 2

Navigating Smartphone Boundaries for Kids | Techless Talks Ep. 2

About the episode

Techless CEO, Chris Kaspar, talks with Pure Hope's Dan Martin about the responsibilities of smartphones on both parents and kids and how to set the right boundaries.



Introduction  0:01  

Thanks for joining us for another Techless Talk, where we explore how consumer technology shapes our relationships, health and culture.


Chris Kaspar  0:12  

Hey, everyone, welcome to another Techless Talk. We're here at the sexual integrity Leadership Summit, where some of the nation's leaders in the conversation around sexual integrity have gathered together. And it's my honor today to talk to Dan Martin, he's a director at a organization called Pure Hope. Would you mind telling us a little bit about Pure Hope? Yeah. And then And then, after you do, we're gonna dive into this really cool perspective they have on technology. So absolutely pure hope is is really about equipping families to navigate what we would call a sexualized digital age. We live in an environment that's hyper sexualized our culture and we live in a time where digital distraction is a huge hurdle. And a lot of families are trying to figure out, hey, how do we do this? Well, how do we how do we help our kids live in this environment where those two things come together? is really where pure hope wants to spend time and wants to dive in? When my kids were getting phones, it was brand new, like there wasn't, I couldn't go to parents and say, Hey, how did you navigate this? Like, what are what's some good wisdom around it? And because I was the first generation of parents, that all sudden we're handing our kids the smartphones, that that was kind of like, oh, my gosh, I don't know what this thing can do. But here you go. Never been done before. But here you go test it. Yes. Yes. And so you know, one of the things that really drives me and drives our organization is helping parents giving them some, okay, here's how I failed as a parent, you know, in this area, here's some things I picked up along the way. And we'd love to help other families navigate this. Well, it's I checked out your website, and I saw this article that you wrote about the social dilemma. Yeah. And we've talked about the social dilemma. I mean, I love that film. I think everybody should go watch it, it will terrify you. Yeah. Well, the social dilemma does a really good job at addressing the problem. But your article talks about the solution. Yeah. Which and so unpack that. Give us the summary of that, presumably to solve the problems of the digital world? A huge problem. Okay, what do you how do we fix it? You have three minutes, I'll solve all the world's problems for you.


Dan Martin  2:29  

Well, you know, the solution is timeless. We often think that, you know, hate technology is this new thing, or this new hurdle. And yet, what I find is, there's a lot of wisdom, just given, you know, the the world that we live in, that we can draw on that doesn't necessarily talk about, you know, the latest Android or the latest Apple product, it talks about just good stewardship of our time. And so when I think about the challenges that families face today, in individuals face, it's really about digital distraction. And that's, that's what the social dilemma was really talking about is that all these tech companies are really vying for is our time and our attention. And so many of us are and I'm as guilty as anybody. Yes, I'm first in line. I'm so distracted digitally. social dilemma helped me see that there's more going on here. There's a psychology behind this. There's a there's a there's money behind this. And our time, our our time, and our attention is a commodity. You know, think about it, how much do you pay for tick tock? You know, how much are you paying for Snapchats? Free, it's free. It's free. It doesn't cost anything. And I'm like, huh, but people are becoming billionaires who start these companies talk


Chris Kaspar  4:01  

this giving away something for free? Yes. How's that work?


Dan Martin  4:06  

Yeah. And so just just being aware number one, that, that our time and attention is a commodity, what's a good thing for all of us to think about is how well am I stewarding my time? We're given a allotment of time. And we've got to make the most of that there's great wisdom that that I've learned and one of those one of those kinds of things that and I mentioned kind of the it's this has always been around. But there's a verse that I love and it talks about, it says, Be wise, don't be unwise, like live wisely. Don't live unwisely. And number one that's like intentional like so if you're not intentional, you're not going to be wise you're going to be unguided. Seed wise


Chris Kaspar  4:48  

means being intentional. Yes, yeah. Be intentional, engage your brain think ask questions right


Dan Martin  4:54  

make and make informed decisions. And then that goes on to say after that be what you know. Don't be unwise. But be wise it goes on to say make the most of your time. When I think about how many times I get lost in the endless scrolling, you know, where an hour out, I'm like, Oh my gosh, it's an it's been an hour. And I've been scrolling, you know, looking at Instagram or whatever. And I just lost an hour. Yeah. What social dilemma helped me with was helped me to see number one that there was a plot. Somebody was plotting in a boardroom somewhere, like, how can we get Dan to spend an hour and a half on his phone and just waste complete time


Chris Kaspar  5:35  

know about that plot until you watch the film?


Dan Martin  5:38  

Exactly. And so it was very eye opening for me in that way. But it was also like, hey, wait a minute, there's the this is a new phenomenon in the sense of, we're carrying these things around in our pockets. But the wisdom behind make the most of your time, like be aware, be intentional. We we have to make a plan to be intentional. What's your plan? Hey, parents, most of us don't have a plan. I didn't have a plan. When I handed my kids a smartphone when they were in eighth grade or whatever. When, when that new technology was coming out my plan was, I'm not sure how to use this thing. But let's figure this out together. And so for me, the plan began with let's do this together. Dad, can I get on Snapchat? Sure. Let me let me sign up for an account myself. Yeah, you know, let me let me get on Snapchat. So


Chris Kaspar  6:33  

you dove in with them. And your plan was hey, I'm gonna you're gonna do it. I'm gonna Yes.


Dan Martin  6:37  

My answer to my kids was never know. Unless there were some nose when it came to technology. You know, if if they had asked me about Pornhub, it would have been no, yeah, yeah. But yeah, but it was I heard all this, this fear about, you know, Snapchat and Tiktok. And all those things? My answer to them was always, yes. Let's do it together. And let's figure this out. And then we would get on it. You know, and we would learn it together. And they hate my kids hated it. They they hated that. No, Dad, don't you can't get on it. I


Chris Kaspar  7:11  

want to get now that they're grown. Do you ever regret that?


Dan Martin  7:14  

No, no, they don't. In fact, my daughter said to me, that I always appreciated that you gave us pretty firm boundaries. But they were never boundaries that we we wondered why you were given us like, like, if you said no to something you would always tell us why we were designed for community we were designed for face to face interaction. Technology is a great supplement, when we can't be together when we can't do this face to face.


Chris Kaspar  7:44  

It's the compromise to what we should have as the default. Exactly. Exactly. Right.


Dan Martin  7:50  

And what is lost when we lose this. What's lost is body language. I lose facial expressions. If I insult you online, I don't necessarily feel or see how that hurt you. Or I say something that that you know, body language would tell me Yeah, boy, that that impacted him differently than I wanted it. Yeah, we lose all of that Sherry Turkle wrote a book, The Art of commerce, we reclaiming the art of conversation. We've lost it, we're reclaiming. We're reclaiming it. And I love that because Sherry Turkle, who's a professor at MIT, was on the cover of Wired magazine in 1996, kind of promoting this new digital connection, like it was going to transform relationship as


Chris Kaspar  8:42  

she's writing the book to clean up the mess that she endorsed. But what's happened?


Dan Martin  8:45  

Yeah, exactly. It's like she's got 15 years of all this data with technologies. And now I mean, Wired Magazine isn't gonna put her on the cover today. Yeah, if they even exist anymore. But they're, they're not going to put her on the cover today. Because she's saying no, we were human beings were created for face to face. And we're seeing a generation of kids being raised. And from her perspective, which I love the book talks about, you know, they've studied, there are some real things, the empathy, the level of empathy of a 12 year old today, yeah, versus the level of empathy of a 12 year old 20 years ago lost their they've lost empathy. And so, again, those timeless traps are we need to be together face to face. And the beauty of technology is when we can't be together face to face. We can still have a relation. We can still cultivate our relationship. Yeah, but there's no greater joy. There's no more complete joy than being together face to face. And that's what I'm afraid kids are losing. Yeah, today.


Chris Kaspar  9:50  

I'm an art guy. I have a master's in studio art in theory. So I love paintings. One of the things I've realized is that so many paintings were designed to be experienced by To face like that's that's how to experience the pain. So unless you stood in front of Picasso's Gurmeet gua, it doesn't affect you, but I remember seeing in books and all this stuff, and then I showed up in Spain looked at it, and I was like, Whoa, it changed my life. Actually, this sounds weird to say that painting can change your life. But there's just the subtle nuance and sophistication and complexity behind it. I mean, another one of my favorite paintings, Garden of Earthly Delights. Hieronymus Bosch. It's a triptych, and it can be folded, but then it can be unfolded. And the more I've studied this painting, the more I realized that this was a conversation piece to sit and look at and engage with and talk about for three hours. I mean, it was like supposed to be this engaging thing, but it's sophisticated and nuanced and complex. And unless you see it in person, you're just gonna miss it. Everything I love about paintings is what we're missing right now in our culture and relationship to technology has replaced that. I mean, you look at a, you look at a beautiful painting on a four inch screen, and it just don't do it. Right. Right. But it's the same thing. And we've just lost that. Yeah,


Dan Martin  10:58  

yeah. That's, I think that's a great analogy. And, and that is, again, you know, the face to face or the the in person. Yeah. Is is kind of the completeness. And technology. What technology gives us is an incompleteness.


Chris Kaspar  11:15  

We were talking yesterday, and you had this really cool story about the founder of Netflix, so I'm here for his tell us. Yeah, well, this came


Dan Martin  11:23  

this actually came before i i watched the social dilemma. Okay. So this is Fast Company Magazine. In 2017, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix was being interviewed. And he was asked a question, who is Netflix number one competitor, who's their biggest competitor? And so you're expecting to hear, you know, Amazon Video, or Hulu, YouTube TV or, you know, whatever, whatever the other streaming service would be. And he made a statement that just took me like, by complete surprise, his answer. And his answer to that, who their number one competitor was, he says, as he says, sleep. And I was like, sleep what? Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix views, your sleep, my sleep, our sleep? Oh, God, I love I love my sleep as a competitor. Wow. So here's, here's what I take from that Netflix has feels like they've consumed as much of our waking hours as they could. And now in order to increase market share, or get more of our time and attention, going back to that, that whole thing, that commodity that we have to sell, right? time and attention is to break into and overcome some of our sleep. And you think about I mean, when you think about that, just watching Netflix, you know, you finish a movie and you got five seconds till the next movie recommended start.


Chris Kaspar  13:03  

Oh, yeah, right. Good one, too.


Dan Martin  13:04  

Yeah. It's one o'clock in the morning. But yeah, I'm in for another two hours. And it's it's probably a pretty successful business. Model. Yeah, it but but then at the end of that article, he says this, which just sends chills down my spine, when I think about he says, and we're winning. And we're winning like he they're overcoming our sleep. Like, that's just scary. The combination of seeing social dilemma, seeing some, some Tech Insider, some industry insiders kind of giving a little bit of a insight into what is actually happening. And then to hear the CEO of Netflix, say that in a publicized he's not ashamed


Chris Kaspar  13:51  

of that. Yeah, he's promoting that. Yeah, it's like, we're taking your sleep. That's okay. Yeah.


Dan Martin 13:56  

Crazy. And we're giving it to ya.


Chris Kaspar  14:00  

And I always call, you know, these subscription services where you pay a flat rate monthly, and you can just eat as much of it as you want. I call those like all you can watch it all you can eat things, and I kind of equate them to an all you can eat buffet. And if we live on all you can bet buffet, what happens to you? Yeah, you know, you gain weight, you know, it's just inevitable, you almost feel obligated to eat more. I mean, the business model is designed to entice you to get your money's worth, I go to go and crowd, I'll skip breakfast, and I'll go and double down on it as much as I can. Because otherwise I don't get enough value out of that.


Dan Martin  14:35  

That is fat. Yeah, thinking about that, like today. You know, you made a you made an analogy with me yesterday, when we were kind of interacting a little bit that I'm already like incorporating into all the tech talks that I'm gonna give but it was the analogy of handing your kids a million dollars. And you would be a fool to hand your kids a million dollars, and they're not ready yet for that million. dollars, you know, you a wise parent and intentional parent would would give them small amounts of that. Yeah, my


Chris Kaspar  15:07  

my daughter's four or five year olds. I'm giving them nickels. Yes. And they're thrilled


Dan Martin  15:11  

with the nickel. Yeah, absolutely. But if you but that is the equivalent to handing a sixth grader or seventh grader, a smartphone, and just the responsibility and the significant the weight of that on that, that child that's not ready for that. Well, all their friends have one. That's not how we make decisions as parents. That's not a good that's not a good barometer for us cross


Chris Kaspar  15:38  

that off the list is a valid excuse. Yeah, industry. Not a good reason. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. let the viewers know a little bit more about pure hope how to plug in yet practical. Next steps for you guys. Yeah,


Dan Martin  15:50  

our website, pure is where you can find a lot of our resources, we got some great free resources that are just downloads on our websites for parents that really helped them kind of navigate these issues. And so you can go check those out. One of the things we have on there is a safe use agreement. And it is really that kind of a contract for giving your child a phone up front, what are the expectations. We also have an app, we have a new app. So we want we want your time and your attention more of it. And so hopefully you're not sleeping, you're spending time on our app


Chris Kaspar  16:24  

only. And only thing I'm sad about is that your app doesn't work on Wi Fi. So if you guys liked what you heard here today, there's definitely more I mean, I went online earlier today, they've got some really good free resources. Go check them out. I highly recommend it. They'll help you navigate those difficult conversations. So thanks again for tuning in and we'll catch you next time.