The "Good Enough" Principle of Digital Parenting with Dr. Katie Davis


00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village. And today I got to hang out with Dr. Katie Davis. She wrote a book that I'm finding so helpful. It's called Technology's Child, Digital Media's Role in the Ages and Stages of Growing Up. One of the things as a parent that I truly like feel a little lost in is what this looks like when it comes to technology and social media and just like what they're consuming, because it's so different from how we were raised, right? Like we are really sailing this ship as we build it or whatever that phrase is. Zach always makes fun of me because I just don't ever know the right way to say the phrase, but whatever that is, we're building it as we sail it. When I was hanging out with Katie and having this conversation, it was so heartwarming because it felt achievable. She really focuses on this like "good enough" principle of digital parenting. And I don't know about you, but I need that. I need the good enough. That we only know what we know right now and who knows like what technology is going to look like for them down the road, right? Like if we had tried to prepare for what we knew five years ago or 10 years ago, or in our childhood, if our parents had tried to prepare us, I don't know about you, but I was working on like Mavis Beacon and learning how to type. And sure, it served me, I guess, but it's so different than what I experience now as an adult. So when we're looking at this and diving into this book, the thing that I really felt so strongly about was how accessible it feels and just the lack of like shame and judgment that Katie brings to this. I'm excited to hear your takeaways and what comes up for you. Take a screenshot of you tuning in and tag me at and come share. Let's continue the conversation over in DMs, over on Instagram. I would love to hear like what your takeaways are and what you want to dive deeper into on this topic. All right, folks, let's dive in. 


00:02:11    Alyssa

Hey there, I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a master's degree in early childhood education and co -creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing Method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 


00:02:33    Alyssa

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today, I get to hang out with Dr. Katie Davis. She's an associate professor at the University of Washington and director of the UW Digital Youth Lab. For nearly 20 years, she's been researching the impact of digital technologies on young people's learning, development, and wellbeing. In her latest book, Technology's Child, Digital Media's Role in the Ages and Stages of Growing Up, Dr. Davis brings clarity to what we know about technology's role in child development and provides guidance on how to help children of all ages make the most of their digital experiences. Hello, Dr. Katie Davis. How are you? 


00:03:15    Katie 

I'm good. It's great to be with you. 


00:03:17    Alyssa

I'm jazzed to be with you too. This is a topic that I feel like we've been wanting to cover here on the pod for a while, and we get so many questions about, and your book was, you know, publicists pitch us with books quite often, and we're like, eh, not a good fit, not a good fit. And we're like, oh, this one like really felt in alignment in a lot of ways. And I'm excited to be able to dive into kind of what it entails and all that jazz. But I want to kickstart with like, why did you choose to write this book? What was it about this? 


00:03:49    Katie 

Yeah. So I, as, as you said in the intro, I've been researching this space, kids and technology for almost 20 years. And for most of that time, I have not been a parent. And typically when parents or really anyone who asks me what I do, they perk up and say, oh, well, okay. So what's the answer? What's the verdict? Is technology good or is it bad? And for most of that time, I've been saying, well, it's very complicated and sometimes it can be good. And sometimes it can be bad. It really depends. And then six years ago, I became a parent and I thought, whoa, that's not particularly helpful advice for parents. You know, it's, it's the correct answer for as a researcher, but how do you translate that into, okay, what do I do today with my kid? How many episodes of Paw Patrol should I let him watch? You know, when do I introduce him to video games and these types of things? And so, um, I really just thought I want to write a book where I'm bringing all of that research, and the research that I've been doing and that I, that others have been doing in this area for a long time, we have a lot of knowledge now, but it is complex. And so I wanted to bring that and just make the complex a little bit more concrete so that parents and educators and really anyone who has a stake in the development of children could actually use it. And so that's what I'm hoping that it's, it's both informative, but also useful and provide some concrete guidance for parents. 


00:05:19    Alyssa

Yeah. As a parent, thank you. Cause I feel like it is the big question, right? Like how much is the right amount and whatever. And from my, just like anecdotal experience in child development with tiny humans, it has varied so much kid to kid, right? Like just last night I was cutting my child's nails and we were watching an episode of Daniel tiger, and my mother -in -law was over and she was like, Oh, this is like such a nice use of screen time. And I was like, totally, this is such, and it's not the only time that we use it. It's not the only way that we use it. And there's so many questions that circulate. And I think at least for me, one of the big ones that comes up is like, okay, right now it's in my control, but what happens when it isn't? 


00:06:03    Katie 

Yes, I know. That's something that I think a lot about. My little guy is six and right now, yeah, pretty much I'm in control, but actually just yesterday he was at a friend's house and when I picked him up, he was playing a Mario brothers game and he had never played one before, and I could just see in his eyes, he did not want to go, well, and he told me I don't want to go. And so I thought, Oh my gosh, it's not completely in my control anymore. And yeah, it's really tricky and it's really hard to know, what can you, knowing that all kids are so different, you know, there's some predictable developments that you can anticipate, but not everything. And kids are so different. So what can you hang your hat on to really say, okay, what's best for my kid? And, you know, as you mentioned, screen time, that particular example of screen time was, is wonderful. Um, but screen time, we often paint with this very broad brush, um, when it can be, it can mean so many different things. It can mean sharing a really wonderful moment with your child. It can mean the only way that you're going to get their nails cut. That was definitely the case when Oliver was little, um, or it could just mean you're exhausted and your kid's exhausted and you just need a moment to just chill out, either together or separately. And it's really hard to know, well, when is that okay, and when is it not? So in my book, I introduce a framework that really is, it consists of two questions to ask yourself, to help you figure out, is this a good use of technology? Is it not? Should I be doing something different? Should we be going outside? And so the first question is, is it self -directed? Is this experience that my child is having, is this sort of in their control? Are they the masters of their attention? Are they in the driver's seat here of this technology experience? Or has their attention been co -opted in some way by this technology? And I can get into the details of what that might look like. 


00:08:03    Alyssa

Yeah.Break down the difference between those two with an example, if you will. 


00:08:06    Katie 

Sure, absolutely. Yeah. So, well, I think of two apps that Oliver used to love, particularly during the pandemic. So one was Peppa's Paintbox, and this is a, your kind of your typical drawing and painting app where he would open it up. And the first thing he would see, in addition to Peppa, he'd be quickly taken into a blank canvas and he could kind of draw whatever he wanted to at whatever pace he wanted to. And when he was done, you know, he would kind of figure out, you know, this picture is done and now look at this wonderful picture. Peppa and her friends would ooh and ah, and then he kind of move on to the next thing. And I would say that is a really good example of a digital experience that is self -directed. So Oliver is deciding what he wants to do, what colors he wants to use, what implements he wants to use, how long he wants to use it. And the app is just making that possible. It's providing him the tools to do it. In contrast, he also at that time really liked, and actually still kind of likes, this very basic game, Paw Patrol Rescue Run, where, you know, content wise, it's lovely. It's a lovely idea that the kids go on different missions and to save Adventure Bay, to clean it up, you know, they're doing all these good things. And I really have no problem with it. The only thing is that when he plays it, I noticed that he doesn't really seem in control of his attention. He is so focused on getting from point A to point B in this very prescribed forward movement. There's no countdown clock, but there is this sense that you need to get there as efficiently as possible, and collect as many pup treats as you can and collect badges and just do your best. And all of these things, these design features that are very engaging and very motivating, what they do is they kind of co -opt his attention so that he just wants to play more and more and more. And so it's a lot harder for me to say, okay, Oliver, it's time to put that down and we're going to do something else. Much harder than with Peppa's Paintbox, which is much more typical of your standard analog play experience, where for little kids, it's about 15, 20 minutes. And then they're ready to move on to something else. Whereas with video games, it's, you know, they have very specific design features in them that just keep you playing and playing. And I'm not at all saying don't let your kids play video games. That's not the message. The message is as much as possible, try and expose your children to digital experiences that do allow them to be in the driver's seat and that they're in control of their experience. A little bit of, you know, just vegging out in front of the TV is absolutely fine. We do it every single day. We do it a lot when we're traveling. That's totally fine. Oliver plays a little bit of video games. He'll probably play more as he gets older, but it'll be harder to regulate because they are so engaging, but I also want him to have experiences with technology and ideally most of his experiences where he's creating something and he's really engaging in open -ended play experiences because those are the best kinds of play experiences for kids' development. 


00:11:28    Alyssa

Very cool. So from like the nerdy side of things, is it a difference in like level of dopamine that like the reward part, the external motivation of like, go get there as fast as possible.... 


00:11:38    Katie 

That's certainly part of it. Yeah. Yeah. The, that, whole system is being very much activated and developers of these technologies know exactly what they're doing because they, and we even have a name for it, dark patterns, where there are these specific features that are designed to keep you engaged. And so one classic example of the dark pattern would be the autoplay feature on Netflix or YouTube, where you don't have to do anything. It'll just automatically advance to the next show or video clip. 


00:12:10    Alyssa

Love that feature for me, by the way. I love it. 


00:12:12    Katie 

Yeah. Yeah. I love it personally. I don't like it with Oliver and, you know, for Netflix makes it easy enough to turn it off, but you have to, it's not really the default, unfortunately. And, you know, other examples are, you know, things that are like countdown clocks or virtual rewards, anything that's just keeps you wanting to get more or wanting to beat the clock, or even some platforms have virtual characters who get upset or cry when you leave them. 


00:12:42    Alyssa



00:12:43    Katie 

Anything that's sort of manipulating you to stay present and what dark features look like, you know, on different platforms, you know, social media, metrics, notifications, likes, all of these things. Um, they look different for, um, technologies that are geared to different ages, but the purpose is the same: to really keep kids engaged and to almost take over their attention. And again, as I said, a little bit of that is fine, but when you're thinking about child development, a really big part of child development, especially early child development is learning to regulate your behaviors and your emotions. And if all of that's being outsourced to a technology, you're not learning that for yourself. And you're also associating technology with something that will just soothe you and calm you down or entertain you. And you don't have to do anything. And technology can be so much more than that. And so that's what I'm really saying is the best kinds of technology experiences are ones that are self -directed. 


00:13:46    Alyssa

Yeah, cool. And even like personally, from an experiential perspective, I, as I was, you know, diving into your book and preparing today, I was thinking about like, what are ways that I really like enjoying technology, things that I enjoy about it, and what are things that experientially, like when I leave that, I look back and I'm like, yeah, that I just feel like I wasted time, right? Like at one point I started playing this game 1010 back in the day. And, uh, I got like so sucked in and I would find myself, like I would be hanging out with people that I want to hang out with and thinking about like, oh, I really want to like go and play that game. And like, that's problematic. And for me, that's not an experience I want to have versus like, I love a spreadsheet. You give me a spreadsheet and I can play around with formulas and build different things and whatever. Like that for me is really fun. 


00:14:35    Katie 

Absolutely, yeah.


00:14:37    Alyssa

And it's my blank canvas, right? Like, 


00:14:39    Katie 



00:14:40    Alyssa

I'm not an artist. I have no desire to draw or color. I do want to play with numbers in a spreadsheet. 


00:14:46    Alyssa



00:14:47    Alyssa

Yeah. I was just thinking about that perfectly as you were describing these. I was like, yeah, that matches up for me and in terms of my experience and noticing too for Sage, and what I've noticed in kids is that it's different. And for all humans in terms of like, how hard is it to leave that screen? And that it's not just different for all humans of like, oh, the exact same scenario, but that all these scenarios are different, because there are different types of screen time. And so when you say like, my kid has a really hard time with screens, maybe there are certain things within technology that are really challenging because they aren't that self -directed component and they are producing more dopamine. And we love dopamine inside of our body. It says like, keep me coming back for more. We systematically don't want to leave that. So even just being able to kind of notice what are those things that are easier versus harder for your kid to come away from technology saying like, is there a meltdown every time we play this one game and it's time to leave versus this other thing? 


00:15:45    Katie 

Absolutely. And keeping your eye on the goal of, yes, my kid, their interaction with a particular technology will look different from another kid's, but the goal for both kids is to have self -directed experiences as much as possible. The second piece of this that's really important, especially with children is, and it's the second question to ask yourself in this framework is, so is it self -directed is the first one. Is it community supported is the second one. And when we're talking about little kids, typically the community is the family unit, sometimes caregivers, daycare providers and things like that. But mostly it's within the family and it's about, okay, what kind of support is this child getting around their technology experiences? And so, you know, your example in the beginning where you were cuddling up with your child and cutting their nails and watching a show, that's a great example of this shared experience. And that is one form of community support where the child is getting support. Sometimes parents, older siblings will play video games alongside kids. That's another form of community support. Even just deciding, a parent who decides when to introduce their child to different kinds of TV shows or different kinds of screen activities, that sort of gatekeeping role is a form of community support. Kids are not using technology in a vacuum. They have a lot of people around them who are deciding what they can be exposed to and when, and as they're engaging. And especially when they grow up and they're doing more autonomous things on social media and things like that. It's really important, actually even more important, I would say to think about what is the kind of community support and what kind of community are they experiencing on those social media platforms as well? Like, is it a toxic environment? Is it a very supportive environment? There are certainly instances of both online. And so really asking yourself, what's the broader context and what kinds of support does my child need to make their technology experiences a good one? 


00:18:01    Alyssa

I love that. And I think, would like FaceTime fall into like community support? 


00:18:06    Katie 

Oh, I love, yes. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. It's that FaceTime, any sort of video chat, I think is great because it's a, that's really just a medium of connection, a way to connect. And I know parents and families, you know, extended families relied heavily on video chat during the pandemic. And I think that was really meaningful and important. I know for my son, we were living in Berlin at the time and being able to connect with his grandparents and they would read him books. And, you know, those are really great experiences, a great example of community support. 


00:18:42    Alyssa

Yeah, sweet. We, Sagey's right now favorite way to consume any sort of, I guess, use technology is looking at old pictures and videos of himself, even like from yesterday, right? Like he just was. But what's been really cool, I'm one of five kids. My parents don't live right where we live. And, you know, his cousins are all spread out. And we'll go back and just like watch pictures and videos that include those family members. And he has a context for them. We were looking at a picture from Christmas time. We celebrate Christmas in my household, and we had been at my parents' house. And it was just one picture from at my parents. And Sage told me this story of his big cousins who are, they were 13 and 11 at the time. And they were playing video games. And like my parents had like a front living room where the kids, the big kids gather and play. They were playing video games and they gave him a controller that wasn't connected to anything. And he told me this whole story about how Noah and Spencer gave him this controller and a white controller. And he felt included and he didn't feel left out. But that even like that conversation was even sparked from just looking at an old picture from Christmas time. And it allows us to like have conversations about our family, talk about them, especially right before we're going to go see them on a trip or something like that. We dive back into photos from the last time we saw them and share stories about them, et cetera. And it's been that use of technology for us has been such a beautiful way to keep them as a part of his life and in his memory when he doesn't see them all that often. 


00:20:20    Katie 

Absolutely. No, I think that's, it can be so helpful for families and especially little kids who may, you know, they may not remember for them last year was half of their life ago. So, you know, you could, technology can really help with those memories. And yeah, it can be a great form of community support. 


00:20:38    Alyssa

Yeah, sweet. I dig that. And the grace to be like, you know, sometimes it's not community supported and I'm getting dinner ready and he's watching an episode of Daniel Tiger or in like my first trimester was like, yeah, there's going to be some more TV that isn't necessarily community supported or self -directed. 


00:20:57    Katie 

That is so true. Sometimes you will go into survival mode at home. It's just Oliver and me. And so if one of us is sick, all bets are off, you know, then we're just in survival mode and whatever it takes to get us through the day. But I do find that sometimes, you know, if I've been sick and, or if he's been sick, we do have to do a bit of a reset after that and say, okay, that was abnormal. We watched a lot of TV. Let's dial it back a little bit. 


00:21:24    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. And that's, I think, true with all boundaries, right? Like kid's job to say, is this still the boundary when grandma's here, when dad's gone, when you're sick, when you're whatever. And then the hard part of that is pulling them back in and being like, okay, now we're out of that. We're out of vacation. No, I know for us last year at vacation, it was like there were popsicles every day. He was eating goldfish on the beach. And then it was like, yeah, it's not our typical diet back home. It's like just getting out of that flow. So I think that one's not unique to technology, but also falls into that. 


00:21:56    Katie 

No, absolutely, just parenting. 


00:21:57    Alyssa

Yeah, totally. Totally. This is one of the things that really drew me to your book was that it's not a one size fits all approach. And I believe that about just being human, that it's not a one size fits all approach. There's not one parenting approach that is like, this is the way to go for all kids, for all families, anything in life. I don't think that there's one right way to do anything. And so when we're looking at that, what does it look like from the tech world? If you have some tiny humans at home, say you're a parent of a few kids and you're like, okay, if it's not one size fits all, what does this look like within my family context? 


00:22:38    Katie 

Yeah, I know. So in the book, I really emphasize, it's just, and this is where the complexity of the research comes in. It's just, there are a lot of different factors at play here. And that's why I think sometimes when we talk about screen time as this monolithic category, it really obscures some of that important nuance. And also just when we're talking about older kids and social media. Social media is in the news a lot these days as this one monolithic thing, but actually there are lots of different kinds of social media platforms and social media experiences. And I think it is important to dig in a little bit to that and recognize that technology can be very different and can be used in different ways. And so the first piece I think of this is looking at the technology itself and all of the different varieties there are. It's not that two hours of this screen time, we got to cut it off because it's just screen time. It really depends. Well, what is that screen time made up of? So that's one piece. Then the individual kids, that's another piece, all kids are different, but also developmentally, there are some predictable stages that kids do go through and it manifests a little bit differently for all kids. But you really have to think about where kids are developmentally and what they need. And so in the book, I start from young kids, I go from toddlers and they go all the way up through to 20 somethings. And I really consider what's critical at these different stages of development, what's front and center. And so for little kids, that ability to regulate your behavior and your emotion is really critical. Your development of your caregiver relationships is so important. Early literacy development is super important. When you get older, you're starting to think about actual school learning and what are kids actually learning, the skills that they're learning as they get older, friendships, dynamics, things like that, identity development. And so it really changes. And that requires you as a parent to change your focus and say, okay, I have this particular technology and how is it interacting with where my kid is developmentally? And then my kid's own particular brand of that development and how it's manifesting in this individual child. And then of course, the other piece of this is the broader context of what is the broader context of my child's life? What is home like? What is school like? What kinds of friends do they have? All of that is going to impact the kinds of technology experiences they're introduced to and exposed to and what makes sense in this particular context. In this particular moment for this family, it may not be practical to just drop everything and go outside. Maybe outside is not safe for those kids or maybe there isn't a backyard or something like that. So you really have to think about what is the broader context of kids' technology use to just start to wrap your head around what are the best decisions to be making? 


00:25:44    Alyssa

Yeah, I think that's so huge. And I like that you acknowledge different developmental stages. One of my fears is around like... I think it's a fear because it's unknown for me, what skills are they missing if there's a technological substitute for where there wasn't before, right? So if it's that teens are hanging out and playing a video game together but they're in their own houses playing this video game but they're hanging out on their little headsets or whatever doing it, what skills are they not building by being in person and connecting with each other and playing? I had an N64. There was no headset involved in order for all of us to play. We had to be in the same household, right? And I totally see the benefit side of it. That part makes sense to me. It's like, yeah, it's more accessible for kids. If you can't go... If your parent can't bring you over to that person's house, pick you up... 


00:26:41    Katie 

And especially during the pandemic. 


00:26:43    Alyssa



00:26:43    Katie 

It was a lifeline, yeah. 


00:26:45    Alyssa

Yeah, but like now, in this space, what are the drawbacks and what are things that they might not be getting exposed to by being in the coziness of their own house doing this? 


00:26:59    Katie 

Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a really important question to be asking. And so on the one hand, I would urge parents to consider, well, first of all, what are the skills that are required to communicate effectively with friends over a headset while you're playing a game? That's a whole set of skills and that's pretty cool that your kid is developing that. So to take a moment to celebrate that piece. But then also I think it's perfectly valid and important to consider, well, if all of their social experiences are happening through a headset in the context of a game environment, are they missing out on any other really important social interactions? And I would say probably if all of their social experiences are happening that way, you are missing out on face -to -face, the subtleties of picking up on other people's facial cues and just sometimes navigating the awkwardness of being face -to -face in conversation. And I do think that it's worth making sure that your child is having those experiences. And I think it's possible to do that in a way where you're not dismissing their video game use because it's meaningful to them and they are developing certain skills, but not all skills. So it really does come down to as a parent. And this is where you as a parent come in with the community support, just keeping an eye and seeing, well, do I feel like this is really balanced for my child? Or do I feel like something might be missing some sort of important human connection that might be missing? 


00:28:35    Alyssa

Yeah, cool. It's like the question that comes up for me and it comes up even younger. If like a lot of schoolwork is happening digitally, what are they missing from a motor perspective? Those are where my fears come in. 


00:28:47    Katie 

Me too. I think that I do worry sometimes that we're so much and so much schooling is moving more and more digital, but that physical, especially with little kids developing their fine motor skills, their gross motor skills, that's still really important. Not to mention the kind of cognitive thinking that's happening while they're in that kind of a play environment where they're navigating social interactions and they're building things. And there's both physical and cognitive development happening there. And so I think it's really important to not displace that as much as possible with technology. 


00:29:27    Alyssa

Yeah. And I think sometimes it's in small ways we don't think about. I was chatting with a friend of mine who's an OT and she was chatting about just even the shift from pencils to the lead ones you would go sharpen to clickable pencils. And she was like, you used to have built -in kind of movement breaks where you would go up and you would sharpen your pencil. We might be dating ourselves here, but where it's screwed onto the wall and you had to put your pencil into the sharpener. 


00:29:53    Katie 

Oh I remember that so clearly. 


00:29:54    Alyssa

And she was like, but we had these built -in kind of breaks where you could go up and you could sharpen your pencil. And it was even if it was an excuse to get out of your chair for a second, you were able to do that. Just like spinning the thing to sharpen your pencil. 


00:30:06    Alyssa

And then we shifted to clickable leads inside there. And then into a lot of folks having like tablets or using technology in these spaces. And so it's not even just the like, how is it pen to paper? But also these little things that were added in that now aren't a part of just the practice of whatever you're doing. That's where those, those are like my fears are. It's always the unknown, right? Like, what aren't we thinking about or what? 


00:30:32    Katie

Yeah, those little things that just subtly change the way we go about our day. And we don't really notice. So we don't necessarily miss them when they're gone until they're gone. And then there's no one who remembers them. And then all of a sudden our, the way we navigate the world is different. Yeah, no, and it has obviously happened throughout human history. And no, I think it's so interesting. And I think often for all the fear there is around out there about technology and is particularly in the context of kids. I feel like our society has mostly, when we look back, we kind of say we've, we've grown since, you know, years past, we've developed technologies overall a net benefit. But I always do like to think about, well, what are those just ways of being in the world that are different now? And I am personally very glad that I have all of the modern comforts that I do. But sometimes I do wonder what about the way I navigate the world is maybe a little bit different. Is it a little bit less than in some way? But yeah, these are really interesting questions that are very hard, by the way, for a social scientist. 


00:31:41    Alyssa

I'm sorry. 


00:31:42    Katie

Thats ok. 


00:31:42    Alyssa

Yeah, no, for sure. It's more of the wondering. I don't even think there's necessarily an answer. But those are the things we went, my husband and I went out to eat and we don't bring our phones into a restaurant when we go out to eat. They stay in the car, which has actually been a shift, even for like caregivers who have been with our toddler. We're like, this is the restaurant we're gonna be at. They have a phone, call us if anything comes up. But we got there and it was like QR codes. Was there menus? They didn't have physical menus. And we were like, oh, yeah, we actually need a physical menu. We don't have phones on us. Just like things like that. We're like, oh, right, like that's a thing. But then if we had the QR code and we scanned it, like I know myself. Every time Zach went to the bathroom, I'd pull out my phone. And I like sitting back and like hanging and people watching and that process when my phone isn't there. And yeah, it was just interesting to notice like, oh, another place it's like embedded. 


00:32:35    Katie

No, it's so true. And actually important things are happening in those moments where you're not really focused on something particular. The part of the brain that's activated is called the default mode. And there's a lot of important things that are going on. And the default mode of the brain is associated with things like perspective taking and empathy and even just self -awareness. And so if you take away all of those moments of just sitting quietly or observing or even being bored, you're actually taking away an important part of the way your brain is functioning. 


00:33:09    Alyssa

Yeah, I dig that acknowledgement. Thank you. Another thing that really drew me into your book was the embracing of the "good enough" principle of digital parenting. Can you break this down for us? 


00:33:22    Katie

Sure, yes. Yeah, so I talk about the good enough digital parent with the recognition, you know, I start the book recognizing that parenting and just the concept of parenting has changed over the decades over, and especially I think accelerated in the last few decades where, you know, there's just a tremendous amount of pressure on parents today to get it right. And not just with technology, every aspect just to set your kid up for some sort of success. And this is part of economically, we're in a very challenging position and parents in many ways are right to be worried and they see people around them, the other parents around them being nervous and stressed out. So there's just a lot of pressure on parents. And so, and there's no different in the technology space. In the book, I draw on the concept of the "good enough parent", which is not my concept that I came up with. It's from a pediatrician from the mid 20th century, Donald Winnicott. And he wrote about the good enough mother. I guess he just assumed that fathers by default were good enough or not around enough. So as long as they made an appearance, they were good enough. But the idea for Winnicott was that the goal in parenting is not to be there for your child 100 % of the time. Because if you're there 100 % of the time, there's no space for them to figure out how to get out of their own predicament, or if they're bored, how to get un- bored. And those kinds of unpleasant sort of tricky situations are really the backbone of development. And this is how we develop resilience and our own ability to regulate our emotions and our behaviors. And it's absolutely essential. It's essential that parents give their kids that space. And you do that by being good enough. You're there pretty much when they need you, but not all the time. And recognizing that you also are a human yourself and you have needs and you have other commitments. And so I take that basic concept of the good enough parent. And I translate that into the digital world of the good enough digital parent. And the recognition here is that I know as a researcher in this area for a long time, that there is no one set way to parent around technology. We just don't know it yet. And I don't think we ever will because technologies are too diverse and kids are too diverse to be able to have this. Again, it comes back to the one size fits all doesn't work. So good enough digital parents, they're engaged, they're aware, they're doing their best to expose their children to self -directed, community supported digital experiences, with the recognition that not all experiences are gonna be that way. They're not gonna have the energy to make sure that they're that way all the time. And that's absolutely fine. This sort of try things out, see how it goes and adjust as needed is what a good enough digital parent does. And actually that is great. That's the key here. And then the other really important piece of this is to turn the attention on yourself as a parent and your own technology use and let yourself off the hook a little bit, not too much, because I think it is important to be as present as you can when you're with your children and not always have your attention pulled by your own devices, but you're always gonna have slip -ups. There's always gonna be those times when you do find that you're checking your phone for whatever reason, legitimate or otherwise. And to give yourself a little bit of grace at those moments, but also turn them into teachable moments. As much as I can, when I find myself being distracted while I'm playing with Oliver, I try to actually not just put my phone away, but call attention to it and say, you know what? I've just been distracted. And as he gets older, I fully intend to talk to him about why exactly that is. It's not me necessarily. It's not some failing in me, but actually these things are designed for me to want to look at them. And so I think that opens up a whole conversation that you can have with your children about that it's not this personal failing of yours or your child's, but there's this broader context of technology design that we're a part of. And so, yeah, that's the whole idea is to, I'm hoping with this idea of the good enough digital parent that parents actually can embrace just being good enough, but with the knowledge and comfort, that is actually great. And you're doing a good job that way. 


00:38:01    Alyssa

Yeah, I love that so much. And I think recently I was feeling like I'd been really distracted or whatever. And I was talking to my friend about this and was sharing, like, here's what I've been doing. She was asking questions and she was like, okay, did your mom like never make a phone call when you were around her? Like, and I was like, no, I guess you're right. Like I, for me, I felt like I have to put my phone away or it'll just be on and things will be happening all the time. And was like faulting myself if I jumped on the call or called a friend or whatever when we were hanging out when Sage was around really. And I was like grateful for like calling me in on this. I'm like, it's okay to call somebody. It's okay to look up a recipe. It's okay. Instead of having the cookbook in your house, you just have it digitally. Like that's all okay- 


00:38:54    Katie

Yeah, absolutely.


00:38:55    Alyssa

-to utilize. And that there are different levels of like, yeah, I guess this tech use and how it might be a part of our parenting or a part of our lifestyle versus pulling our attention away. 


00:39:09    Katie

Yeah. And sometimes it's really hard to know the boundary there because it's all on one device and you can't necessarily see it. So am I checking, you know, my social media or am I looking up a recipe? You know, it's hard to know the difference sometimes. And definitely hard for your kids to know. And that's why as much as I can, I verbalize what I'm doing on my phone so that it's not a mystery that they can actually know what it is I'm doing, why it is I'm doing that. And I find that it does help. But I also think that, you know, this, even just that guilt that you're expressing is very, it's important for us, I think, to put that in this broader historical perspective of parenting and how 30, 40 years ago, parents actually, they worked on average less and they also spent on average less time with their kids. And we have just raised the bar on ourselves tremendously. And so I just want parents to recognize and acknowledge that they're doing probably a lot more than their parents and their grandparents did in terms of just on the floor time with their kids and probably at work as well. And so that's, it's just a lot that we're putting on our shoulders. 


00:40:21    Alyssa

It's a freaking lot, Katie, it's a lot. 


00:40:24    Katie

Yep, it's true. It's why we have this feelings wheel on our kitchen table. And every morning and pretty much every evening, Oliver and I point to what feeling we're feeling. And he loves this because there's one at school too. And I'm always wondering, why isn't there a feeling of just tired? Because that's my dominant feeling.  I guess that's not a feeling, but it definitely is my feeling. 


00:40:48    Alyssa

So my book is Tiny Humans, Big Emotions. It's all about emotional development. And now I'm going to be diving into like that interceptive awareness, like hungry, tired, whatever. How do we categorize those? I love this. Thank you so much. Thank you for writing this book. Thanks for giving us a framework within which to work that is attainable, that doesn't feel like it's all or nothing. My hope for my household, at least, is that when we can use this framework and just kind of openly talk more about technology, as you were saying, like, oh yeah, I'm looking at this recipe or I'm calling Auntie Erica or whatever, that we can have a more open discussion about technology to also then create this relationship of trust. So that when they are 16 and they find themselves in a social app that doesn't feel good or where they're having a hard time, that there isn't shame around them coming to us. 


00:41:46    Katie

Yes. Because they didn't create these challenges and they should definitely not feel shame for experiencing them. 


00:41:53    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Or even the ability to say like, it is really hard to stop playing that game, you know, or just watching that show. Like I truly get that. Sometimes I stay up too late because I watch one more episode when my body actually feels tired. Like I know what that feels like. Yeah. So thank you. Thank you for helping us have this conversation within our households. Where can people learn more about you, your work? And if you can repeat the title of your book, I think that'd be so helpful. 


00:42:23    Katie

Sure. So the book is called Technology's Child, Digital Media's Role in the Ages and Stages of Growing Up. And you can buy it pretty much anywhere. I'm finding that people are saying that they're having good success finding it in their local bookstore, which is great. 


00:42:37    Alyssa



00:42:38    Katie

If they don't carry it, you can always get it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, any of those big shops. And if you are interested in reading just a free sample of the book, you can download that on my website by signing up for my newsletter, which I publish weekly. And the newsletter is, you know, just has tips and reflections. I often will draw on ideas and things in the news and connect them to the ideas in the book. And you can find all of that on my website, And yeah, that's the best place to find me. 


00:43:13    Alyssa

Awesome. Katie, we'll link to all of that in our blog post and transcript for folks who are probably like me and consuming the podcast on the go or doing dishes, et cetera. So we'll link all those things for folks. Thank you. Thank you again. Thanks for joining me today. 


00:43:30    Katie

Oh, thank you so much for having me. This was fun. 


00:43:34    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at, S -E -W. Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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