ScreenStrong Families

Video Game Addiction & Treatment with Dr. Brett Kennedy (#109)

July 06, 2022 Brett Kennedy
ScreenStrong Families
Video Game Addiction & Treatment with Dr. Brett Kennedy (#109)
Show Notes Transcript

Today, Melanie is joined by Dr. Brett Kennedy, co-director of the Digital Media Treatment & Education Center and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 20 years of experience working with adolescents, adults and couples. Dr. Kennedy and Melanie discuss the history of video games, how video games specifically meet boys' needs, and tips for helping your son through a video game detox.

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Production Team:

  • Host—Melanie Hempe
  • Producer & Audio Editor—Olivia Kernekin
  • Writer/Editor—Adrienne McKechnie
Melanie Hempe:

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the ScreenStrong families podcast, bringing you the best solutions for parents who are serious about eliminating screen conflicts in their home. This is Melanie hempy. And I am thrilled that you are here today we have such a fabulous guest, I hope you're having a great day. I want to welcome everyone back. And of course, if you are new, we are so glad that you've found us. Before I introduce our guest, I just want to talk to you a minute about what happened yesterday. So my boys is you know, I have two older teens, and they love sports. And they love all kinds of activities. And I know a lot of people out there in the Facebook group that we have just asked questions about what what are your teens do? What can they do with their time and all of this. And so I just want to mention really quickly one thing that I have noticed about raising kids in a game free home now versus the mistake that we made with our oldest when all he did was play video games. So the younger boys who are now really not young anymore, they are in there. They're 17, they do a lot of sports. And so what I want to just mention to you very quickly, before we get started with our guests is the benefit of your children, doing sports, especially boys, I'm not saying that girls is different, but girls can get involved in a lot of different activities. But they have jobs. By the way, if your teenagers don't have jobs this summer, please go get them a job. It's very important. They can find little jobs all over the place. Our kids do some work at the school, they just do work at a camp there and whatever they need them to do there. So they he came home from his job. And I'm watching how you know, they have a few minutes where they're, like, potentially bored. Now I my kids really, really aren't bored anymore. Because I taught them when they were really young, that if you're bored, then I'm going to give you the toilet brush, and you're gonna start cleaning bathrooms. So they, so they quit announcing to me that they were bored a long time ago. But he was sitting around, and he said, Mom, I'm going to go to the pickup soccer game. And I just thought, we're getting ready to eat dinner, you're getting ready to leave. And he laughed, I let him go. I always let them go when they want to do stuff like that. So he went back to the school and they were 20 kids, they were playing soccer. And it was so fun. And and while he was gone, I was just thinking how different our life is now, and how important our focus on sports not we're not over the top, we are not, you know, it's not like we're over the top with every travel team or we don't do all that stuff. But we've always made sports important in our kids lives. And it's paying off now. So you know, this wasn't a formal team. This was just a bunch of kids getting together to play soccer and how fun it was for me to sit there and just realize my kids are never going to be bored in. And if they are bored. They have the tools now to know how to get themselves out of that boredom. Because you know, even as adults, we have that emotion we have that feeling of panic, oh, no, what am I going to do? Of course, if I ever have a few minutes by myself, I don't. I'm never panicked. It's always great. But it was so fun for me to realize in that moment, as I'm cooking dinner, and we push dinner back an hour, and it was okay. You know, I just want to encourage you to get your kids to find their little group of friends. They can just jump out on the spur of the moment and go play baseball or basketball or soccer. Most of the time, they're in our driveway playing basketball. But this was just really fun last night that he was trying to find something to do. He chatted with a friend. And he ran over and did that. And he had so much fun. And there's something about kids playing sports in those environments. That is so emotionally positive for them. Because there's no referees. There's no dad screaming at the sidelines telling him to do better. It's just very fun. And it's kind of a kind of a teenager free play activity. So today we are going to take a deeper dive into boys I guess. And some of the things they do when they get bored like playing video games. And we have a fabulous guest with us today. Dr. Kennedy, I would like for you. I would just like to welcome you. And I want you to give our audience your background really quick. So Brett, go ahead. And we are so happy that you're here today.

Brett Kennedy:

Well, thanks for having me. I'm happy to be here. So I'm a clinical psychologist. And my background is sort of how I came into this is rather interesting. I think I was living in San Francisco during the.com Boom. And I was in graduate school and at the time when people started to get involved with dot coms. The city of San Francisco kind of exploded and people's behaviors changed. People became wealthy overnight and there relationship with technology changed. And I remember seeing people parking their SUVs on sidewalks and feeling like it didn't matter because they had so much money now. And it was just this like disregard, I think for for common norms at the time, and it just fascinated me as a psychologist that technology was having such a, an influence so quickly on how people behaved. And then over the past several years, obviously, decades, we've seen it grow in all areas with devices, not just not just what we do on the internet, but with video games, our devices, smartphones, and so the technologies become almost like an extra limb on people. And that's how I've always just maintained an interest in the relationship with technology on our lives. And here we are,

Melanie Hempe:

well, boy, that's, that's really kind of eye opening. You're right, it's like people are living in an alternate universe. That's really what you're just describing, like the rules don't apply to me.

Brett Kennedy:

Right? Well, the rules are created by technology with with the architecture of the products, the iPhones, video games, or nog, Rafi you name it. There's an architecture built around technology that's designed to impact us as humans and many ways to override our natural instincts and boundaries and sensibilities,

Melanie Hempe:

that persuasive design elements around it. And just I love the way you say the word architecture. Yeah, that's right. It's just that's how it's built. It's built to suck us in and kind of give us these different ideas that aren't, don't really work in the real world. So how did you get involved with this specific issue of like video game addiction? I know that's part of what you do. explain where you are now and the treatment center that you're with now? Yes, so

Brett Kennedy:

I'm co director of the digital media treatment and education center in Boulder, Colorado, and we provide therapy and therapeutic services for people struggling with compulsive use of technology and video games. For Nagar fie social media, something we call information overload, which is where you just really go down the rabbit hole of YouTube, Tik Tok, looking up information online, and then spending spending time shopping online. But we're seeing more and more spending through game purchasing skins, financial issues surfacing because of the relationship of the consumer aspect in gaming.

Melanie Hempe:

Well, and it brings in the whole gambling aspect, too. And so this is just so mind boggling. If you're new, and you're listening to our podcast, and you just started figuring out about ScreenStrong I bet you didn't know that there are actual treatments and herbs all over the place. And this is one that's been around for a while and we've had Tracy Markel your partner on here before and we just love both of you guys so much. And I, I have such a respect for any professional that is out there trying to handle this issue. It is like David and Goliath it is such a tough issue when you're you feel like you're kind of going counterculture sometime, right? Because culture is so big. And it seems really easy to just give up and throw the talent. So what keeps you motivated? Like, what stirs your passion most about helping families and helping kids deal with this,

Brett Kennedy:

I believe life is lived best when it's lived in balance. And I think that as a psychologist, that's my job is to help people figure out where their life is out of balance or where they're stuck with something or struggling in something. So I don't think I've seen anything like the power of technology to throw people's lives out lives out of balance. And so I'm also I'm a problem solver and I feel challenged by this because it is it does feel like such a David and Goliath kind of thing. And technology moves faster than we do. So trying to get one step ahead of it. So I'm intellectually challenged, but it also just sort of naturally falls into life as humans that technology in balances us in critical ways. So we have to have tools for addressing it. And combating and counteracting, Yeah,

Melanie Hempe:

boy, I'm with you, I'm, I get a lot of like energy, I guess out of trying to solve problems too. And then when, when I'm sure you feel the same way, when you find an answer or you find something that's working, you just want to share it, and you just want more people to take advantage of it. And that's what you do pretty much every day in your in your job. So let's dive in. For the parents who are listening, you have boys specifically, and you know, girls do play video games. But I just want to talk to you specifically today about video games. And we know a lot of the reasons we already know this stuff is addictive. I think 10 years ago, when I would talk to audiences, you know, they wouldn't quite believe me that there was such a thing as a video game addiction. But obviously, our culture is sort of over that now. Now everybody understands that there is so we won't go into all that. But what I would love to do is to just talk just to have you describe what a typical presentation is in your office, you know, a patient that comes in what they're presenting with, what type of things are bringing them to you kind of what ages they are, let's talk about that a minute.

Brett Kennedy:

While we do work with those that that are objectively struggling with compulsive use, a lot of our clients that come in may be spending upwards of six to 12 or more hours a day on digital devices. So for video games, as we know that can, it's very easy to to get immersed in gameplay. And part of the reason for that, and I think an important underlying thing for parents to understand is that most teens are drawn towards three things that sort of feed them, if you will, they're looking to experience autonomy, competence, and socialization. And unfortunately, video games provide that for them. In in a bubble, they are often engaged in isolation. So they have their autonomy, or they're able to feel like they're in charge of something they're doing and something that adds value for them. They're experiencing through gameplay competence, they're getting really good at it or feeling very adept at what they're doing. It has a purpose for them. It has winds, and it has successes, and there's a lot of socialization, albeit remotely and online. So one of the things with all of our clients that we find is that usually these three things are what we have to help them understand and focus on to find that offline. And when you started today, you really introduced something kind of critical how your boys were doing some sports, they're finding all of that I assume, in that they have, they're getting competence, they're actually socializing with people. And they're just coming up with the idea like we want to do this tonight shows that sort of autonomy is in the mix. And that's the goal.

Melanie Hempe:

It's that self direct in which we want all of our teenagers to grow to that point where they can meet all these needs in a healthy way, instead of in a way that's potentially addictive. Because I can tell you that playing soccer, while you may think, well, Melanie, you can get addicted to that too. Well, not really, because your physical body isn't going to be able to play soccer for 12 hours a day, you just physically can't do it precisely, right. I love the way that you outlined those three things. And for parents out there, write this down somewhere, autonomy, competence, and the socialization that's needed. And it is so much better and so much easier when they can get these things met in the real world during real activities. talk a minute about the social aspect of gaming, because this is a real obstacle for parents, they believe their kids are being socialized on the game. And when you've been like me, in both worlds want one world you know the other world with my oldest son, and then now I'm doing it different. I see the difference. I see. It's day and night the difference in socialization between socializing online versus socializing in person. 100%. Yeah, it's like the particle, the end of the rainbow, but for parents out there, and I was one of them. So, of course over here, we were never judgmental about anything I believed to that my son, my oldest son was getting his social needs met on line. And it wasn't until many years later that I realized he was in a complete deficit in that area. But can you talk about why the social activity online really will Never meet their their core need for social activity? Well, it has

Brett Kennedy:

to do with the fact that online social relationships can only replicate in person and visceral and one on one relationships due to something called limbic resonance, which is really where the capacity for sharing deep emotional states arises in the limbic system of the brain. These allow you to feel empathy and connection to others. And when you're online, while it you can get a version of that, for sure, you're not necessarily getting to navigate the whole range of emotions and experiences with another person. Like one interesting emotional thing that studies have shown is that if you're playing violent video games, so we all have baseline levels of hostility, just we all have a level of hostility in us. If we play video games, that are violent video games, the baseline level of hostility rises, your aggression does increase, that doesn't mean you're gonna go out and cause violence or do something, but it just, it rises. So if you're playing video games, just imagine that's your primary form of socialization, you're spending all your time online. And you're in a heightened state of aggression. Adrenaline, this is informing a lot of how you also connect with others communicate with others, versus how you might do it, if you were out on the soccer fields, are having to navigate some of those boundaries and the things that you would just simply know or have to deal with by dealing with people in person. So the balance in principle is that while you get some needs met, you can have replicated experiences online, it doesn't translate the same way.

Melanie Hempe:

It's not meeting the full gamut of all those elements that are necessary. It's like, to me, the word counterfeit kind of comes up a lot in my brain, because it looks real, but when you actually touch it and feel it, it's really not real. But I think for parents, I think they're enough removed from the experience, that it's much easier for them to believe it is meeting the need, you know, for their kids social needs, because they're not, they're sitting next to them playing this game. And I think if they were and I highly encourage parents, to sit some time, side by side with your child, and not really play with him, but watch him play and watch what's happening and put the headphones on and listen to the other things that are happening. Because I think very quickly, you will see that they're not getting any social needs met, they're spending time in what we call like sandbox play, right? They're just like toddlers playing together in the same sandbox, but they're not relating to each other on any deep emotional level. It's just the game.

Brett Kennedy:

It's limited in that capacity. And like when I was a kid back in, when video games were first developed, we had to go to the arcade, there was, first of all, they weren't as immersive. They were more or less two dimensional. But part of my day was I got I had limited time at the arcade. And then I had to do chores. And then I had to go to soccer practice. And then we played outside until it was time for dinner. So there was plenty of alternate opportunities to connect and problem solve and, and experience emotional kind of differences and work through conflict. And I think the immersive quality with video games where you feel like you're getting all your needs met is where the dangerous because you're not,

Melanie Hempe:

I love what you're you just painted this picture in my brain of the arcade. And you also had limited quarters in your pocket, whatever. And so but the other thing that just popped in my brain is we were actually with other kids, like we were physically with other kids doing that. So if you left, you know, you had some quarters after school, you met your buddies down there, right? And you got to play this game and then you watch your friend play this game. And then you got to use your quarters over here and you played this game, but then everybody ran out of quarters and and you were done. But you were maybe going to get a coke with them or you know, you were still with them in person. And that just hit me because a lot of people say was the same as our case when we play Pac Man. We are going out right now there was still something different about that. And I think you just nailed it. I think you just nailed it. We were still in the presence of other live human beings while we were playing these silly games.

Brett Kennedy:

That is the key you know, Gene 20 Who You've probably you know about searches generational trends. So she looks at different trends. In her research recently, since the iPhone came out, she says, I mean, this statistic, this definitive statement just strikes me as so powerful, and it's from her research team to spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy than those that spend more time, on average, on non screen activities. There's not a single exception, all screen activities are linked to less happiness. And all non screen activities are linked to more happiness. And the reason I, I believe is because when it's skewed to more than average, right, where you're spending more time online, you're not getting those experiences that we just talked about. And one of the things that is kind of critical for that. And I think, at least when I was growing up, parents also relied more on each other, and had a parent network supporting each other. So you had all my friends, moms, were kicking us out of the house at a certain time, we had so much time we could play Atari, but then we had to go do this, or we had to do this because that was that was what balance was she this was a new thing. We could only watch MTV for time. But everyone was sort of following suit because the technology was new. And it's like, well, you can't, and you have an allowance, you can't just have unlimited quarters. And I think but where the line is blurred. And recently, with technology being this 24/7 thing where it appears to meet everyone's needs, or it has gives the illusion of that is that we forget that the balance in principle that you have to build in those other things. Yeah. Wow, that

Melanie Hempe:

is so powerful, what you just said, that is the crux of the whole problem. And then you just touched on something that believe it or not, I have never really thought about and I'm in this issue all day long for years. And so I'm so excited when my little brain like thinking was something new. So thank you. But what? What did I say? What you said is that video game, this video game culture erases the need for the parent network, right? Because as moms, and I'll just say moms, because you know, moms and dads, for sure, but you know, used to be we were home, and our kids would play and somebody would call and we would talk to the mom and mom and mom would talk and we kind of got this relationship going and our kids would play and we'd make these arrangements. But you know what, that's all erased, right? With video games, we don't have to do that. We don't have to call and make the play date. We don't have to get to know the other parent, we don't have to get our emotional needs met to parent with a network right of other parents. So now that then all the parents out there are pretty lonely, they're isolated, they don't know what their kids are doing. Because we're not communicating. Because that need has been erased. We don't We are not forced to communicate with other parents that our kids are growing up with in these networks. Because physically, we're not doing it physically. It's all virtual. that's mind blowing.

Brett Kennedy:

You had asked at the top of the of the talk about kind of the work we do and what brings people in or yeah, what we notice. And that's that's another interesting point. There's a tipping point. So a lot of times I think with technology, parents have naturally experienced this idea that that digital Babysitting is what I call it, like when you can give an iPad to a kid and it quiets them down or, yeah, a lot of times if you're in the basement playing video games, and you're quiet and you know where your kid is, it doesn't feel like there's a problem. Usually the when people come in to us, it's because suddenly a hole a hole has been punched in the wall or they're becoming more hostile or oppositional or they're letting their self care down. So the the trade off from quiet and compliant suddenly is we're in trouble. And there's a lot that we have to deconstruct that's a big thing that's just changed over the decades also with parenting styles. Like there's been an emphasis on at times compliance and as long as people are quiet and taking care of themselves, but when when I was growing up, we you kind of want things at times to be messy to where you deal with friends having conflict with each other and so so I'm a big fan in this current time of really empowering parents to connect, pay attention to what their kids are doing online, like you said, but more importantly, coming up with your own network of strategy and support to make it so that when your kid goes to the neighbor's house, you're all are operating somewhat similarly on, on that balance in principle.

Melanie Hempe:

So there's some kind of accountability, there's a relationship that with that connection, you learn about that family, even just in a short conversation, it's that human need to share information about oh, I'm so glad, you know, Adam can come over and play today, our cousin is here, and they're here from whatever, because their uncle died. And we're just trying to do what you know, you get information about people and you feel connected to them. But in our virtual babysitting world and play date world, you get none of that, you get no adult interaction. And this is just fascinating. Like I said, I hadn't even really thought about this angle of it. But that's where the problem comes in. Because then you have parents that are feeling super disconnected. And then they start losing footage to the point where they feel like they can't even you know, inject themselves into their kids lives and even know about what's happening. Because they're so far gone. They're so far in this virtual world, they don't even know it, let's face it parents out there, you don't know who your kids are playing with online. And you know, that's a thing we talk about a lot, but you really don't know who they're playing with. And you especially don't know the parents of the kids you're playing with. But you would never allow just random kids to come play in your house, if you didn't go talk to the parents first and find out a little bit about the family. Right. And the other thing that you just touched on me reminds me of this thing that I've said before, when my son was in the basement, you know, playing games, and I kept thinking he was socializing, I kept thinking he was having friends. And obviously, none of that was really happening. But a gaming situation or a gaming addict or whatever. It's like a drowning child. So you never hear a drowning child. A drowning child is under the water. You don't hear it. That's so paints the picture of an addicted gamer, you don't hear you don't hear the little conflicts. Because when you have kids playing in your backyard, somebody has a fight, whatever they work it out, you hear all that stuff, right? But yes, with a gamer, you don't hear any of that. So let's just zoom a little bit fast forward, I have a let's say 14 year old that I come to your office, we have an appointment, he just maybe punched the wall, and I have a hole in my wall. And we've done that before here. So I can say that. So here, I said, I'm new to the gaming addiction world. And I don't know what to do with my son. And I'm really frustrated. And he's causing all this conflict in our home. And we're kind of reaching this echelon of getting a little bit out of control. So how do you can you just quickly describe what you recommend for a detox are four steps moving forward? How do we take the game away? Do we try to do a detox? What do we do?

Brett Kennedy:

Well, it's not, there's not one necessarily correct path here. And that's why I think, to your point, once people come in, it's usually in a state of crisis. And when we're looking at the concept, when we're looking at the reality that you're someone may be addicted to something they have now had emotional and physiological consequences as a result of this. So it's natural to reach that point of frustration and fear and feel like the first thing to do is just take it all away. The brain and the body doesn't work that way. So if we're working with people, we spend a good amount of time educating first on what's happening, right, helping to provide actually, the data that were some of which we're talking about today to try to build some buy in and investment in replacing some of the time you're spending online with other things. You cannot deal with addiction or compulsivity without replacing what you're taking away. Yes. And I think that's key. So you mentioned sports, having and I'm a big fan of like you create structure at first that that highlight all the things that need to be in your life that aren't so whether it's self care, creative pursuits, sports, physical exercise, family time, and if you really when when most of our families look at that, and no judgement just reality like wow, we don't know We don't even have a plan or a vision or a plan for that we haven't been doing that. It's such a challenge to to not have phones at times at the dinner table, it's not worth it, we just want to get through dinner. So to be honest, when people are struggling with this, it's a slower process than people would like. But it's done thoughtfully. The number one thing probably from the very first session on and it's, I want to say I, at some point, I could probably say it's 100% of the issue is that everyone's sleep is off, is impacted. So that's the first thing we start with is trying to create a schedule that helps helps kids and adults and whoever struggling with this start to get on a sleep schedule, because your brain is just fried, unscientific. That's and so we're trying to build it back and to settle it a bit. And over time, that will involve some, some sort of detox often, but when it's done thoughtfully versus reactively, because as another and that's what I like about your program that really is very about, it's a very proactive and preventative, it's helping, it's helping parents not have to, like start from a place that they don't have to hopefully reach this kind of place where they are, they're coming in, in a crisis. But in a crisis, we, we actually slow it down and build in so that it's safe for everyone to reclaim those skills and build back their confidence, autonomy, self esteem, and help them with socialization.

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah, the socialization thing is so important. I love that you are saying that. I mean, I just keep hearing all this stuff about replacing and I want, I want everybody out there to realize that with any addiction with any obsession with any imbalance, it's all about getting it back in balance, right. So you have to go get the things that are missing and things that can replace this time that your kids are spending on this game. And back to what you said earlier about the autonomy and the competence and the socialization, you look for things that meet those three needs, and, and then it then they take off, like I think parents think, well, if I try to reverse some of this, and we try to do a different lifestyle, then my child is constantly going to be arguing with me all the time. And that's not what happens they they launch into a different lifestyle. And I know ultimately, that is your goal with parents is to get them to move from point A to point B to point C, and you have to do it many times with the help of a professional like you. I think with our program, we want to do a lot of prevention. And we want to help parents avoid the visit to the doctor's office. But it's also really important for people like you to be out there available. I'm so thrilled that that you are aware you are helping families because I'm sure we're going to have some people jump over to your website, we're going to put your information in the notes. I think the few big big concerns that parents have about not having video games be an option in their house, which by the way, we do have a game free home now, just because I already did this and it didn't work for us. I was a terrible parent around video games. I didn't know what I was doing. And I'm just not doing any more. So if you're out there and you just don't want to do them, that's fine. There's no law that says your kid has to play video games. But a lot of parents say well, I have to have video games. My son has to have video games because they don't have any friends. If he doesn't play video games. What do you would you answer to that?

Brett Kennedy:

I would say that is a fear. And it's not true. Because one remember once with Jeanne 20s research and what we've seen, when kids are introduced to other things, they gravitate towards it. So while your son may not be able to play video games with his friend, he might, he will play basketball with his friends. He will meet sports with his friends, he will go bike riding with his friends, he will go to the movies with his friends. Those things will be what he does with his friends. They grieve the loss and feel marginalized or sad to a degree if if games are not an option for him. And that is part of life, that sometimes we have to do what's right for our family or our mental health or our needs, and we can't and you're helping your child do you With his grief, which can that's we don't minimize that or his frustration. But the fear that they won't have a life is exaggerated. They can have an amazing life.

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah. And because you're replacing you're replacing, and you're the parent, you're the coach, you're setting up other things. And your attitude has so much to do with it as parent. So the next question real quick is, all my son's friends play video games? So how do I handle playdates at other people's houses? So I know this one mom, I think her son was 10. And then I had another one with the seven year old, who was saying they've really gotten a handle on in their house and their own house. But when he goes to play his, you know, and she's like, I don't want to go over there. What do you recommend to your patients?

Brett Kennedy:

Well, this, this would depend if somebody is addicted, and and or they have significant issues that they can't manage occasional play, there'd be a different approach that might, that's where helping them understand that that friend or may not be asleep over that house may not be possible, just because there aren't enough boundaries or limit limits on that. And that's where, in a in us, I want to say another typical situation, let's say you have a screen free home, but you're comfortable with the fact that if your child goes to a neighbor's house, or friend's house, that they may be playing video games, that's where the parental communication and helping really, hopefully asking for support and help and what that would mean for your kid like, hey, my kid, really can't be up all night playing video games. So I'm gonna be monitoring like making sure everything's turned off at a certain what you often do when you communicate with parents about like your child's needs. And I think it's just being okay with the fact that you might have a different expectation, and can you get support around that? So

Melanie Hempe:

I think is really important for parents to communicate to other parents. But again, just what we touched on earlier that that communication relationship in that network with parents a lot of times is really strained. But if you can, what, what you always would do is try to talk to the other parents and say, Look, we're taking a break from video games, right now, can they do something else I know in the summer, even if it's not a sleepover, they're just going from house to house, and they'll all end up gravitating at the house that has the video games out, because who wants to go play outside when it's hot, right in the summer, and they just want to go inside and play video games, I would recommend to that maybe you just have an alternate, maybe there's a movie they can watch, which is very different than then everybody zooming in zooming in on a video game, you know. So I think, again, is communication with the parents, I think that's one of the biggest things that we are taking away from our time today is what's missing in our network in our, in our accountability with other parents, I think that we not only desperately need, but our kids need to know that their parents know our parents and their friends, parents know our parents, and that we can all agree and be on the same page with that. Finally, there's another question about how do I help? You know, how do I do a detox in my house? And how do I start limiting this when my either partner, my ex spouse, or my spouse doesn't agree with me? And we're not on the same page? Do you ever have that happen in your practice

Brett Kennedy:

all the time? So and again, I want to just give advice, like, I can't recommend doing a detox without really assessing somebody's place. But what I what I think are general rules that are that are pretty universal are Can we agree on times of the day, and opportunities where we're all going to be tech free, where we are looking to build activities into the day that are not tech related. So you approach it from a we're adding in a home that where there's a lot of conflict, or there's a lot of differences on this, we're talking about adding more you add, it automatically reduces your time online, even the most staunch video gamer or kid, I can generally get them to identify a few moments of the day that they could see value in doing. So I think like if parents could do that, and I want to piggyback off some it's a little radical idea, but for parents, okay, how many kids are in your kid's friend group? Let's say five. If all of you agreed that for the summer. All sleepovers do not involve games at all of our houses. Yeah. So to have a sleepover, it has to be tech free. Every one of you would be coming up with your own plan for that. But but your kid will wouldn't feel marginalized or odd because they know that's what's happening it Jimmy's house and as house and as parents, you don't have to power struggle, and you're not the weird family or the difficult family, you're doing it and everyone is and in the end, because I want to say something like, when we have to send a very severe kid who does need an immediate detox, there needs to be containment. So let's say they go to a program like wilderness where they spend six, six to eight weeks in a wilderness environment, no technology, they're hiking, building camps, socializing with their peers. Surprisingly, they do pretty well. Yeah, they, they, they go from full on tech to nothing. But because they're connected. They're learning autonomy, and they're building competence. But they're also it's all this novelty, it's all new stuff. They've never hiked, they've never built a fire they've never built. So if you did that at home with your, with your sleepovers, it's tech free summer sleepovers, and everyone's doing it. They are going to make forts, they're going to be creative, they're going to be on there, but they're gonna do it. Because it's not an option.

Melanie Hempe:

That is so great. What a great concept to make it a group effort. So when you make it a group effort, then you become part of this small group, and you don't feel weird anymore. And that's just what you're gonna do. And it's like a chance,

Brett Kennedy:

don't think you're weird. And they don't that and every parent is also getting the support of the other parent. Like, we're not reinventing the wheel, we're just, yeah.

Melanie Hempe:

And all the creative juices start coming out. And they start building fires in the backyard. Way to go, No, that's great, actually,

Brett Kennedy:

responsible for the alternative activities and the consequences. There have been Oh,

Melanie Hempe:

yes, you are, we're gonna call you and talk about all of the zip lines and the broken arms and the broken legs. Know how fun we I will say that our tip here, we can wrap up with this, go get a firepit for your kids have some fun time at your house, your sleepovers at ScreenStrong wheat, we have an aversion to sleepovers because you can't control all the time what happens. But what a great idea this is to just make it a challenge to get your kids moms and dads together all on the same page in to make a challenge that your summer is going to be more fun. And you're going to actually learn to do things like build a fire in the backyard, instead of a fire in fortnight. But thank you, oh my goodness, so much. This has just been so fun today visiting with you. And we have just touched the very tip of the iceberg here. I want you to talk as we as we wrap up real quick about do things. One thing really quick about the education that you offer, in your practice. Because I love the course that you have and just talk about that just for a second. I know it's like the intro to digital addiction, right, isn't it? Yeah,

Brett Kennedy:

we have. So digital media treatment Education Center, as we also provide trainings to mental health professionals, we provide trainings to parents on the five types of digital media addiction interventions, brain science. So a big part of our mission is to educate, because again, this is a whole new world.

Melanie Hempe:

So if you're a professional out there, and you want to get some credit, and some CEU credits and CME credits, you can run over to that site and see if that course will work for you for that. If you could just share one, one quick encouragement before we leave for parents who are really struggling out there today. They're listening, they're getting really excited about all these things that you've talked about. What can you tell them to encourage them in their journey to stick to their guns on this and to not throw the towel in and to not just give in to culture,

Brett Kennedy:

I'm gonna I'm gonna reiterate, I really think it takes a village. So I think I know that if you reach out to any of your kids, friends, you're going to find some empathy and understanding in those parents, I definitely want to encourage you build a network of support. And that that you're proactive versus reactive. Because when you set a boundary or you put something in motion, you have to be strong and ready for the pushback and to weather that storm to get to the other side of it. So that's why when you're prepared and you know what you're about to get into, you'll flip the switch on what your kids expect because they expect to push back hard and you to crumble and you're not. If you haven't prepared enough, it's easier to crumble. If you don't have adequate support, it's easier to crumble. But you have to trust the science, face to face activities, creative activities, physical activities, face to face friendships translate as more happiness for your kids more happiness. And that's what everyone wants for their kids. So you have to trust it. And just giving yourself permission to be the parents that you are, that you want the best for your kids. And that's what guides you.

Melanie Hempe:

And when you know better, you do better and you have taken our courses. Well, I know you have actually gone through our material. And that's what we feel like that's a good way for parents to get their small group together of their parent friends in their network, and to start that small ScreenStrong group. So you can be on the same page, don't you think that will help to have that education?

Brett Kennedy:

It'll help tremendously.

Melanie Hempe:

Gotta have a plan. Yeah. Thank you so much for coming. And joining

Brett Kennedy:

me it was a great, it was great talking with you. And I love the work you're doing.

Melanie Hempe:

Well, thank you on our time goes by so fast. And if you're listening, you have more questions for Dr. Kennedy, please shoot them over. And we'll get him back on for sure to talk more about video game addiction and treatment and detoxes and all that. But thank you so much for joining us today.

Brett Kennedy:

Thank you.

Melanie Hempe:

So I hope you all enjoyed listening today and meaning Dr. Kennedy, I hope just as a result of this, you will start thinking about your network of friends and parents that you can gather together not only for this summer sleep Ivers what a great idea to have the non tech sleep divers, but also for your educational effort in to help build a discussion around this in your own community, we do have a group rate for small groups, if you want to get our course and use that for six or more members, we have a very good discount for that. So come to our site to look at that. We also have a 30 day detox that if you're just in the beginning stages of this, that you can actually try to go through yourself. Of course, if you need help, you do need to seek professional help join our community and get support from like minded families that are just waiting in our Facebook group to help you out. And yes, we are going to be moving some of this discussion over to a forum on our site. So stay tuned to that and get on our site to get our newsletter is well. So what's your homework, your homework is to call all your friends, all your kids, friends, parents and say, Hey, let's start having some no non tech or low tech get togethers this summer. So maybe they watch a movie here and there. But there's no interactive screens in our summer. And if you all get on board together, how fun will that be? You won't be the bad guy anymore. You'll have a team of bad guys. And there'll be a lot more fun and your other homework is to share this podcast with at least five friends today. We need to get the word out and we can't do it without you. So remember, we've got your back and we are here to help you. Until next time, stand up for your kids stand out from the crowd and stay strong.