Screen time: how much is too much? Interview w/ Ash Brandin @TheGamerEducator

There's a negative connotation around children and screen time. But does there have to be? This interview will reframe how you think about the way children interact with video games.

Screen time: how much is too much? Interview w/ Ash Brandin @TheGamerEducator

There's a negative connotation around children and screen time. But does there have to be? This interview will reframe how you think about the way children interact with video games. Learn how to have a positive approach that teaches children how to manage their relationship with technology over time.

Natalie interviewed Ash Brandin from TheGamerEducator to find out how to impost limits, make a media plan that works for your family, and feel guilt free about screen time. Screen time recommendations have changed a lot and can be confusing.

Parents, learn the recommendations for screen time for children that are preschoolers, kindergartners, 5 years old, 6 years old, 7 years old, 8 years old, 9 years old, 10 years old, and 11 years old

Ash Brandin is the founder of TheGamerEducator



Okay, well hi Ash. Thanks for joining me today. How are you doing?

I am. Well, how are you?

I'm doing great. Do you wanna start by just introducing yourself?

Sure. So, hi everyone. I'm Ash. My pronouns are they them and I, run an Instagram account called The Gamer Educator. on that account I help caregivers, help understand technology, predominantly apps and games for their school aged children and understand how. Those can be a part of our child's life without being the center of their lives and how we can bring in boundaries and framing, to treat it kind of like other parts of parenting and raising kids.

My background is that I'm an educator. That's still what I do at my day job. I've been in education formally for about 13 years and I work in middle school.

One of the reasons why I wanted you to come on is because you really understand we need a realistic balance with screen time. I mean, I found you by looking at a screen and here we are staring at. Screens talking to each other. the no screens in our lives ever approach isn't going to work.

so I'm really happy that to find somebody that understands that and can preach for a little bit of balance, for our kids. we hear a lot about screen time for toddlers. But what are the recommendations right now for children in elementary school ages five to 11?

So this has changed somewhat in the last few years. it used to be that the a a P was really the one setting these recommendations. I have to say that these recommendations weren't really based on much of anything. They weren't really bringing in their own work, or at least not in a sighted way that I could find, to provide these recommendations. So it used to be that the recommendation was under age two, no screen time except for, video calls. Video chats with with real people. And then ages two to five was up to one hour of quality content per day. And there's a lot going on. And the term of quality content, right? That's a lot to unpack on its own.

And then. Between ages five and 12, up to two hours again, of quality content per day. And then over age 12, it was like up to family discretion. And again, this, this wasn't necessarily based, it wasn't like they had done, you know, studies of looking at. different amounts of screen time with these, kids again, that I know of.

But now, especially in the last couple of years, they've actually kind of changed those recommendations to be more kind of in alignment with the kinds of conversations that I'm often having. And so now they're recommendations are that families should make what they call a family media plan instead of talking about prescriptive amounts of time, now they're really putting the driving force on families to look at, you know, where will this screen be and what kind of content might be on it, and how is it being used and in what ways, instead of just only focusing on an amount. So that might seem like a really big shift to go from like, oh, it's just X amount of time to. It's actually like really up to you.

And there's all of these factors, but the reality is it's kind of always been that way. Like it really has always been, all of these factors need to be considered. And when we were only focusing on like the minutes, it, I think put the other things out of perspective and often. It can be much more nuanced than just time.

There's not a really short answer anymore. It's really changed, and now it's really about helping, helping empower families. And if anyone's interested in that, the a a P does have like a family media plan, like outline that you can kind of walk through to make something for your family.

I love that. I'll make sure to put that in the description as well so people can find that.

Do you think that will change again over time? Do you think there's gonna be more studies that come out with more firm recommendations?

You know, that's a really, that's a good question. I could see that happening. And at the same time, I, I think we're seeing, as you alluded to, I think we're seeing a, a lot of recognition that we we're the, we kind of already rang the bell, you know, of,

of technologies ubiquity in our world. And the last few years, have really shown that. Technology is not going away. You know, up until probably even a few years ago, if a family truly wanted to have no screens, they They could. Right? They probably could. But I think the last few years. Obviously out of necessity that changed wildly into the other direction, and now is probably course adjusted a bit, now in a, in a medium place where I, I don't think we're gonna see people, you know, realistically being able to truly have no screens. And as you mentioned, even if a family really did want to do that, then begs the question of is abstinence only education the correct way to approach this? Or rather, is it a sustainable or manageable way to approach this? Abstinence only education does not tend to work, and I use the term abstinence on purpose because that is essentially what. We're doing if we are trying to like completely ban something, obviously we all have pretty much the same intentions.

We want our children to be safe, we want them to be successful. We

want them to be, you know, the best versions of themselves that they can be. and they are going to grow up to be adults. In a technological world we can't even really envision to. Be parts of that world. That means they're gonna have to have the skills of digital literacy, of managing, of balancing technology and screens and the rest of their lives and. It is, in my opinion, the responsibility of caregivers to provide our children with that skill. And that's gonna look different, right? So just as we would not put them on a full size bike with no training wheels, right? We can start with some training wheels and, adjust that over time so that hopefully they are, ready for that responsibility, as they grow older.

you're coming in from the right angle here because our world just, we are on screens all the time. We see how difficult it is for people who have no internet or limited access to internet. The. The world is digital now. It's online, and, and the approach of turning it to a media plan instead of saying two hours and, and that's, it really reminds me of how we got rid of the food pyramid and moved into the MyPlate model where it was more like, well, what do you have on your plate today?

And, and talking about. Balance and what makes sense. You know, a a rainy Saturday might look a lot different for the amount of screen time that you have compared to, you know, a busy Wednesday. If you're balancing out at the end of the week, hopefully you can find a way for your child to enjoy , the world IRL, and the online world as well too.

I make many comparisons and parallels to food. I think it can be a very, helpful way of framing this because many of us, especially those of us like kind of elder, millennial and older, we are often handling food and conversations around food and

bodies and eating. With our kids differently than we experienced growing up. I, that's true for me. I think it's true for many people


think for a lot of us

Yeah. Yes. And so it's, I think it's very similar in a lot of ways, and I really like that you just mentioned that, you know, like a rainy Saturday, , is probably going to look different in terms of, you know, movement or access to tech and. Framing that I think is often very helpful is similar to, food. It used to be we'd think like, oh my gosh, you know, every plate has to be like this perfect balance of nutrients and they have to eat all of it. And, uh, you know, we'd be very focused on, on like the minutiae. And now a common recommendation is, you know, zoom out. Look at what are they eating over the course of two weeks,

right? Instead of focusing on every single meal. And again, if we did, if we zoomed out and looked at a course of two weeks in our child's life and even got rid of, like, but how many minutes were they on screens over two weeks. Instead, ask, okay. Did they go outside? Did they play independently? Did they connect with other people? Did they have friends over? Did they do something out in the world and did they also have screens for leisure? Right. The, all those things, we can look for those things across a week or two weeks instead of focusing on like, oh no, it's been 31 minutes.

I think we'll be okay with the extra five minutes if you're thinking about it from the big picture, hopefully it will balance out in the end. I think it's really important for people to hear you say that. I, I hear this very negative, energy around screen time. Very often I will see parents pull out, you know, maybe I'm out to dinner with somebody and they've brought.

Their five or 6-year-old with them, they pull the iPad outta the backpack, give it to their child, and they're apologizing to me as they say it. I'm not sitting here judging. I'm just happy you could make it out to dinner at all. It's so hard to keep up with people and if we're all gonna have a better time because your kiddo got to play on their iPad a little bit and you got to refresh and have a nice conversation with an adult.

I don't see what the problem is here. And I'm certainly not gonna slap your hand and say, put the iPad away. I what is a way that we can kind of reframe this negativity in the apologizing nature parents have? When we think about screen time.

it is definitely sort of enmeshed, right? I think the, the place of, of thinking, oh, I need to like, kind of proactively apologize for this is obviously, you know, anticipating maybe some, some judgment Where that comes from is prob probably gonna change depending on the person, but I think many of us, have kind of an internalized sense of judgment or shame that we might feel around screens.

And I think a lot of it, I think is that we tend to feel, or I believe that we tend to feel that guilt or shame when we feel like we the adult. Is benefiting from the screen use. You know, if we were able to say, oh, like my child's using the screen like solely because of like all of these benefits for them, you know, if there existed some ideal right?

Some, some ideal kids app that everyone could agree was absolute. Perfection. Right?

And even if they, if they were using them, then we could say like, oh, this is for them, right? This is, this is for my kid and this is good for my kid and the focus is my kid. And the reality in real life is that we are often using screens in ways that also provide benefit to us as the adult.

And that benefit might be like. Practical, right? It

might be I have to be in a meeting, like I have to make dinner, I have to attend to the needs of someone else. and it also might just be like you said, I really, I really want to just like eat in peace or talk to my friend.

When we might be the ones benefiting from that, I think it makes us feel.

Maybe some, some guilt of like, oh, I'm sh I'm not, I'm not supposed to do it for this reason. Right. A lot of these things are really interconnected. Something we hear quite often in screen time conversations is, oh, ask yourself, like, what are screens replacing? I think that's often posed as a way of, I think helping or trying to help families figure out whether or not it's an appropriate use of screens. But the problem with that is if you're coming from a place of thinking that people are gonna judge you for screens or feeling guilty for ever using them, then if someone asks, well, what's a screen replacing? the underlying assumption there is anything is better, right?

Like anything else would be better and therefore. It doesn't really matter what this is replacing because whatever else is replacing is somehow like of better moral value once again, very similar to food. Just as we can take the morality out of food and we can say, you know, cookies have a place, French fries have a place, strawberries have a place and there's not morality in those foods.

We can also do the same for essentially leisure time in the ways that we use leisure time there's not morality to using a screen versus using a coloring book, does that mean that we're not going to also teach the skills of patients and waiting and engaging in conversation And of course not. But every parent and every caregiver doesn't necessarily want every single meal to have to be a teaching opportunity. And also I would posit that every child does not want every meal to be an assessment of their abilities.

Yeah. I, I know that. Parenting is a job. Educating children is a job. These are all skill sets and things that you have to be very intentional about. You don't have to be, but you can be as intentional as you want to be living with children, parenting is 24 7. There is no time off.

Let yourself have a minute off. Don't be afraid to let kids go on screens. I think we can talk a little bit about like what is appropriate for children of different ages. I think that there's choice within that, the same way with with the movies that you put on or, the types of toys that you have in your home.

I think going back to what you're saying about like abstinence only, you're just kind of hurting yourself in the long run. Your children might not develop all the skills that they need. So why not have a more balanced approach? So what, what is your approach? How do you feel about, letting kids have fun on screens?

I mean, I would much rather they're having fun on screens than not having fun on screens. Right. If we're gonna have them right, they should be fun. I, I think that. One of my central like foundational tenets is screen time should benefit the whole family. So instead of only focusing on like, oh, I have to find the best thing that's gonna be good and calming and educational and this and that, because we're focusing only on the kid that we also have to consider the needs of the family This is why I think it's very hard to give advice in this space because people want very, they want clear answers. the reality is it is going to be very dependent on your child and their brain and your family and many, many variables.

Along with that, framing of like, what's screen time replacing is often accompanied by a phrase of use screens as a tool. And if we really do feel that way, we have to recognize that screens aren't a hammer. Right. If we're gonna use them as a tool, then the tool doesn't have to be, this must apply in all situations.

It could be figuring out the best tool for the job. And you know, screens are at this point saying screens is like you're talking about thousands of different potential things. So I think that screens should be used in a way that's gonna benefit a family depending on what that is. And yes, I think that people should be benefiting from the use of screens.

And what benefiting is is also gonna be very dependent. I think that should be enjoyable, and I think that if, if a child is enjoying something that maybe is. Educational in nature. You know, I think that's great. I also would argue that many times we actually learn much deeper and more critical thinking skills from things that we are doing for fun

than things we are doing with the intent of learning. I mean, we can speak to this as educators, but you know, if we look at tasks that are really meant to be educational. That are not accompanied by in-person instruction, right? Like, you know, a workbook or an app. Those really can't demand much. The of the user in terms of academic output, because it has to be low level enough that the person can understand it independently, and therefore the academic tasks tend to be pretty low, right?

Like matching and fill in the blank and those kinds of things that you can brute force your way through, especially in apps, right? I try something and it says I'm wrong, so I just keep trying something else until it says I'm right and that doesn't mean I've learned anything.

No. You're describing me at video games right

yeah, but it's really, what it's actually doing is reinforcing, so a lot of, a lot of educational apps for kids may not, they're not necessarily teaching.

They may just be reinforcing what a child does know and what a child does not know, whereas. When we are doing something that we might find just fun and enjoyable, we often will, be applying more critical thinking skills to those things that are just not going to come up and those low level academic tasks.

So we might look at a kid playing an academic game and they're, you know, filling in. Missing vowels

and we might think, oh, well that child is clearly learning. But like, that doesn't tell us if they know, if they know phonics, if they know these sounds, if they, actually know the difference in these vowels or if they're just brute forcing it.

We might look at a child building something in Minecraft and think, oh, they're just playing, but. Just as a child building with blocks, we recognize, oh, that's not just play, that's learning. Well, that's also true in digital environments and I, one of the reasons I'm telling people it's that we can view games as a valid use of time, is that when we view them as valid. Not the best thing they do, just like valid and morally neutral. Then it also allows us to see that as something we can relate to or draw form or compare to. And so just as we would say, like, what were you building today with the magnet tiles? Now we can say, what were you building today in Minecraft?

And now. We're able to like make these clear comparisons and help them see the skills and the real life applications of the things that they're trying in digital environments.

Yeah, I, I love what you're saying. 'cause I think a lot of times when you meet adults that are very passionate about something, if you ask them, they'll talk about toys they had in their childhood. That, you know, they should have known when they were eight that they would grow up and be, you know, this, have this career

I'd love to think we've got a world of architects and people who work in construction with the popularity of Minecraft. .

So something that, I was asked a few times, is actually about children using technology in school, particularly in those lower grades. Children are spending more and more time on iPads and laptops at school.

So if they're spending 30 plus minutes at school on screens, like does that subtract from their screen time at home?

Yeah. I, I don't know this, but I do wonder when we're talking about, you know, the shift from prescribed amount of minutes to thinking about, you know what, it works within a family. I do wonder if some of it is because we're seeing more and more time spent on tech in schools. that becomes then hard for families to understand and manage. And you know what, like I'm, I am a parent in, as in, in addition to being an educator, and I have to kind of like hermetically seal that off from my consideration.


because as I mentioned earlier, I'm thinking about. what is within my control I can make my preferences known to people within my child's educational system.

Like I can, I can advocate, but the reality is. Many families are using screens because it's filling in a systemic gap that they are facing in some way, a lack of affordable childcare or a way to access cer, like accessing the outdoors, having safe neighborhoods, having more than one caregiver present in any given time, right?

All of these things are gaps, and so they're often being filled by a screen I don't think it's gonna help any family to find more balance if we're like, oh, but by the way, you should be factoring in their time spent on an iPad at school. Because we have to be considerate of the ways that screens are being practically used.

And as I mentioned earlier, often that's benefiting an adult, which is by proxy also then benefiting the child, what I would say is, we can decide how much we want to consider that. And we can also decide how we want to go about noticing that. We notice about our child in their relationship to screens, we can choose to interpret that as as data. To use it as data. And I think that's a lot more helpful than just talking about like, oh, this show is good or bad, or this game is gonna be great for them or terrible. Because if I think of stuff as data, then I can look for trends and things that I want to try differently.

If I'm noticing that, you know, they come home and they're mentally spent and then they watch TV and suddenly they're like, seems like they kind of rejuvenated a bit,

then I might think, all right, I, I actually think that this is still working. And if it's the opposite and instead it seems to like further dysregulate them, we can think about. What can I do? Like what's something I can try to potentially help me with this situation? And what I often recommend is like choose one variable that you can control and try one different thing about it. So it might be, I. Shifting when that screen time is available so

that it happens, after a meal so they're fed or after some decompression in their room or after outside time so that they're more regulated. It might mean moving it so it's like directly before, another like high interest activity so that the pivot from screens to non screens is easier. It might mean that we're, you know, like, oh, that show's like every time we watch that show we have a meltdown. So like this week we're gonna try this other show and see if it makes any difference, and then we can then use that information to then inform us going forward.

If we see great changes, wonderful. We keep them. If not, we might choose to. Try a different variable. And what I think is really important about that is that it's also, we're not demonizing. We're not saying like, Ugh, I knew it. I knew if you watched that show, you'd act like this. It's the fault of the screen.

Like it's the fault of the thing. 'cause that doesn't help anyone. But if we're framing it in like, this is what I'm noticing, this is what we're gonna try, and also maybe involving our child in those conversations, what you notice, how do you feel, et cetera, That is teaching of digital literacy, that is teaching of management of these things so that they are then able to notice how these things affect them and it's not just this top down like dictation coming from us so that eventually

they can take more ownership.

that really goes into that concept of do what makes sense for your family. It doesn't have to be the exact same thing every day. there's always going to be a variable, and a great reminder that, parenting is just a giant science project.

Uh, and

there are gonna be variables, there are gonna be little things that you can change. You don't have to get it right. Every single time.

I think that's a great answer because in the end too, how are you supposed to know how much time your child was on a screen at school?

Yeah. Let alone like what you're using it for, right? It puts you in a position of suddenly wanting to like, micromanage everything that they're doing at, at school. And I, I, I, I can just imagine that that would just add a lot more stress than it would relieve.

So just changing gears a little bit, it's common for kids to get really enthralled with video games. What should parents do if their child is spending too much time playing ?

A common reframe that I bring to this question is to the caregiver who is like, oh my God, all they want to talk about eat, sleep, do play all the time, is Minecraft, Fortnite, Roblox, whatever. My, my common go to reframe is, would you have this same level of concern if they cared this much about any other non-screen thing, like if they were eat, sleep, breathing. Soccer statistics, would we

some are.

Yes, some are, yes. Would I have this same level of concern if all they wanted to do was, read books?

I. I have this level of concern and often the answer is no. And then if I wait longer for that, no, it's followed by because those things are good, right? Like there's a qualifier of like, but reading is good and like, I mean, there's lots of things you can read. Like, okay, well what if they read the same book over and over again for four hours?

Would that still be fine? Right. So there again, we can kind of take the morality out of it and say let's just pretend all these activities are equal in their morality. we probably would recognize that we're not gonna have that kind of reaction to every single activity, but we also might recognize that at a certain threshold, yeah, we probably would. Start to feel some level of concern if my kid wanted to ride their bike for five hours and didn't come in to take a. Drink or a snack, like,

yes, I'd probably be worried. and then what I often say is like, so what would you do? Like if you, if it was anything else and you were worried, what would you do? we'd probably impose limits. We'd probably talk to them. We'd probably find ways of pivoting that interest to something else. if all they wanted to do was read. Then we might say, we're gonna take a break from reading right now. You can come back to read in whatever amount of time. Or if all they wanted to do was bike ride outside, we might make them come in.

We might say, you know, this is the time that activity's going to end. Once again, making a comparison to food in food in the last couple of decades. There's a pretty popular model with kids called the Division of Responsibility. this comes from from child nutritionists and essentially it's adult decides when and what is available. Child decides how much they eat of what's available. And

Oh, I love that.

So there's moral neutrality to the food, right? So the plate might be french fries and broccoli and chicken and raspberries. And if the child eats, you know, all the french fries, one bite of broccoli, one bite of chicken, and three raspberries, like both are doing their jobs. Adult is deciding what's served. Child is deciding how much to eat, and the idea of that is that you're building some intuitive eating skill. I'm not a nutrition, so I'm gonna abandon this metaphor, but. I love that because we can do the same thing with tech. Adults decide when it is available and by when.

I also mean how long, right? When and for how long. And we also get to decide what is available, whether that's TV versus tablet, or it's what apps or what shows or what games we decide when and we decide what, and our kids get to decide what they do within that content. If you've ever watched your kid play a video game, sometimes they do some really weird things and you're thinking like, what are you doing? so they get to decide what they do, and they also get to decide how they feel about it, right?

This is true in food too, right? We've all served a meal and had our kids say like, no, I don't want that. And in division of responsibility, we would say, that's all right. You don't have to eat it, right? I'm

not short order cooking. I'm not getting up and making you something else. I'm also not gonna force you to eat it. You don't have to eat it. There's probably something safe on the plate for you. And in that same way, I decide when and how much screens are available. And my child does not have to like that. It's not their job to like it. It is in fact their job to decide how they feel about it. I mentioned at the very beginning, if we're coming from a place of little kids in tech and we're hoping we end up with. College age adult who can decide I have to turn off the play station 'cause I have a midterm. Right. Which is what we hope for. That's, that's the goal. We have to get there. And so the younger the child, the more of this responsibility is living with the parent, is living with the adult. I would say if we are expecting a child independently, be like, oh, would you look at that? It's spend 30 minutes, I'm gonna turn it off. We are expecting them to do our jobs. For, for a lot of that age group, we're expecting them to enforce, but it's not their job to enforce. It's our job to enforce. I know I am making something sound very simple and it's not, and it's not fun. It's not fun. We think as adults, like I'm giving you a screen, like you should be so grateful.

Don't you know how good you have it? Right? and then when they protest, we're like, I shouldn't have done this. Right? It it reignites that shame, it reignites these feelings of like, it's my fault. But if instead we think, no, this is their job. They're allowed to not like this. And my job is to help them learn that. It's hard to end fun things and fun things will still end and we get to come back to it another time I believe that that's how we build in some of this more healthy and balanced relationship with really fun, appealing things like screens.

I, I love this and I think it helps remind us when we are working with children everybody can be a little bit empowered, right? The child leaves empowered because they got some form of choice, and you got what you're trying to give out without feeling like a complete dictator or like, you always end up being the one bearing, the brunt of the reaction.

And if you can consistently offer up an approach like this, your child will start to get used to it. They'll, it'll just. Be understood, like this is kind of how it works. They don't know what other kids have at home. This is how your home functions. I'm sure if you've gotten to a point where you don't like how screens are in your home, moving backwards a little bit to this will take a lot of work.

but if you're just trying to figure out what your approach is right now, this feels like a very simple way to approach it. It's flexible, and allows everybody to maybe feel just a little bit okay. By the end of the day.

And because we're still coming from a place of neutrality.

Sometimes people will say like, okay, but like if it's neutral then, you know, I'm still wanting to limit it. I'm like, yeah, I mean, bath time is morally neutral, but we wouldn't let our child stay in the bath for two and a half hours. those two things can coexist. when we are treating it with more of that neutrality, And having some predictability around it. That's something I commonly recommend is, you know, have it be a, a predictable part of your life. It doesn't mean every single day is exactly the same, right? But there's some predictability so that they know, okay, yes, it's really hard to stop doing this.

Yes, I don't want to stop and I know I'm going to have it again because I have a predictable relationship with this thing, because otherwise. If they don't know when they're gonna get it again, then they are gonna feel really preoccupied because scarcity is really powerful. And when we don't know when we're gonna have something, be it screens, or if we think four years ago, toilet paper, right?

All of us hoarding, right? Toilet paper and flour and hand sanitizer and beans and like, because we were in scarcity mindset. We were in a place of scarcity, that's a very powerful feeling. So when kids are unsure of when I'm gonna get this thing, they are gonna be really focused on it. And I think you brought a really good point. If. We're in kind of a nebulous place with screens or we wanna change that relationship. Yeah, that is gonna take time. And even if you're coming from a more restrictive place and you're going to a less restrictive one, especially, then you really might be thinking like I. I'm giving them screens every day.

They should be so happy. Like they should be thanking me. Right? But it's gonna take time for them to trust you. I think this is something educators know so well that we almost take for granted. Like

educators don't, we don't enter the school year being like, well, you already know how a school works.

Let's go. Really?

Not at any grade.

No, no. We spend weeks building up the skill of like, here's the expectation. Here's how you do school. Here's how we operate in this classroom. And it proves not only that. Kids are quick to adapt to that and show that they're, they're really flexible. They can be really flexible. They are good at learning these things and they, whether or not they want to admit it, they secretly love rules. They love

Oh, kids love rules and routines. They want it. That's why you know the most misbehaved child in your class, you gotta give them a job. You know? As soon as they get to enforce a rule, they're on board with you all the way.

And, and I think that's also a thing people, adults don't always realize is a reason that kids actually really do love video games. They might not realize it, but like video games are highly rule-based environments. There's rule machines, but within those rules there's a lot of freedom. At school, I might be told all day long, do this.

Don't do that. Like I might feel policed as a kid for eight hours a day, depending on my relationship with school. But in a video game environment, if I'm doing something wrong, right, the game won't let me, but it won't chastise me. It's not gonna shame me. It's not going to emotionally. Kind of cut into me, right?

The game's not gonna be like I told you, if you do that again,


take away this privilege. Right? The game is just like, no, you can't do that, can't do that, still can't do that.

Uh, and so that really does give kids a feeling of power and control. And for many kids, that's a really big appeal of gaming.

I think so and, and what we want ultimately is for children to take the same kind of patterns and regulations and rules that they've grown up with and be able to self-regulate. As adults, right? The dream is that when you send them off to college, they even, they won't be perfect at it. They'll have to rewrite the rules for themselves, but they'll have some sort of a pattern to fall back on to recreate this at home.

And probably along the way some appropriate like age and ability, appropriate ways of. Of, of failing, like, of, of

screwing up and figuring it out. Right. We take the training wheels off, they're gonna fall down. do we wanna be like, when our kid's 17, you know, dictating every moment of when they're on a screen and not, no, we probably don't.

And is there gonna be time and there where they're gonna prob we're probably gonna have to give them the gift of, you know, failing, like missing a deadline or like. You know, realizing their priorities when in order, like, yeah, we probably are gonna

have to do that. And that is a really hard thing to do.

We don't want, we don't wanna feel like somehow we're setting our kids up for failure. And if we always try to eliminate their potential failures, then we are also kind of preventing them from being able to achieve their own success when we're not there.

every kid needs to know the feeling of staying up all night, playing a video game and still having to go to their soccer game the next morning, you know? Uh,

and they're gonna have to learn.

I can remember some choices of having some very late nights and waking up and working a double the next day. And like I knew what

I was doing. Like I knew my alarm's going off at seven and I, I can tell time, right? Like, and. You know what my, to my parents' credit, like, they didn't come, they didn't chastise me.

They weren't like, gosh, you were up so late. You know? It was just, I, I, I got the message.

I figured it out. I go to bed more reasonably now.

Okay. So Ash, real quick, are you playing any games right now? What's, uh, keeping you busy?

I have been playing, this is, I'm in, what is this? Like, probably the 10th month since, the newest Zelda came out called Tears of the Kingdom.

Oh, you and my husband need to talk.

oh. Sent him my way.

I have been playing, I have no idea how many. I'm, I'm, I'm assuming now we're in the, like, between one and 200 hours range, which over nine months.

Right? That's a, that's a big

number, but like over nine months, not really that much. and wow, what a great example honestly, of, of games with. So many rules, but also a game that makes you feel so, so empowered and so much control. So yeah, I could, I be doing the things the game wants me to do right now?

Yes. Instead I am riding my horse on every uh, like road on the map. 'cause I'm searching for this one character who shows up in a bunch of places and I've decided that's what I'm doing with my time. And you know, that's not what the game technically wants me to do, but it's what I'm doing right now, and

then I'm sure I'll change my mind. Yes, exactly. It's an option. I'm exercising my freedom. Yeah.

I love that. That's, uh, and that's kind of the fun of video games now too. I feel like these worlds have gotten just beautiful and intricate. And if you can ride in with your hair in the wind, inside your nice heated home during the winter, why


Ash, where can people find you? Are you promoting anything right now?

I'm not very good at being an influencer 'cause this is not my day job. So I, I say that it's a privilege that I, uh, have a day job because, I can focus on that. But yeah, my, my Instagram is the gamer educator. I do, I technically exist. On other platforms, but I don't really do anything with them.

I do have a website, I do have some longer form things. It's mostly around, content moderation. So if you are hearing this and you're really concerned about, like, particularly YouTube, I have several guides to YouTube about how to kind of restrict that and, curate it so it works for you. And some guides on things like Kindle tablets and Nintendo Switch on my website, but most everything else. Lives on Instagram at the Gamer Educator, and that's where you can find me talking all things, screens, tech and management.

That's awesome. I'll make sure to put, your, Instagram handle and your website down below so people can find you. Thanks for spending some time with me today, Ash. This was a great conversation.

Yes. Thank you so much for having me.